Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wednesday in the 19th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Groaning Unto Life
Readings: Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22; Psalms 13:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Matthew 18:15-20
Picture: CC rogiro
There are two apparently contradictory aspects to the stereotypical Singaporean, aren’t there? On the one hand, we are known for our skill at complaining. From rising prices to rowdy neighbors, from inclement weather to inconsiderate bosses, we tend to grumble at every little thing that inconveniences or irritates us. And yet, on the other hand, isn’t it interesting how this skill of ours coexists so happily with apathy – a certain ability to remain blind to the many troublesome aspects of the world around us – poverty and oppression, for example, or loneliness and loss of direction in life? Isn’t it amazing how adept we are at grumbling at inconvenience while remaining oblivious to injustice?
How different we are from the people who survive the great purge described in the first reading today. Here we find a fearsome scene of massive destruction. Old men, youths and maidens, women and children – wipe them out! Only one group of people is spared – those who bear God’s mark on their foreheads. And who are these people? What sets them apart from all the others? They are those who are unable to find ultimate comfort in the earthly city. They moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced around them. They prefer to swim against the tide of prevailing prejudices. They wholeheartedly yearn for, and work towards, that day when the idolatry and injustice that they see around them will be brought to an end. And perhaps they have even known persecution for being the odd ones out. On the day of slaughter, it is they who find safety and vindication.
But what difference is there, we may wonder, between their groaning and our grumbling? We find some indication of a possible answer in the gospel. While our self-centered complaints often tend to fracture relationships and alienate people, their concern is the sort that builds true community. While our grumbling is often simply in the interest of letting off steam or to attract attention, their groaning is born of the kind of fellowship that begins and ends in the presence and action of God. If two of you agree on earth about anything… For where two or three are gathered together in my name…
Considering their example, do we not find ourselves challenged to seek the grace that would make us more like them? Is this not a crucial first gift for which we need to ask, even as we may continue to gather in Christ’s name – that the Lord may turn our apathy into awareness, that he may transform our empty grumbling into the groaning that leads to life?
How might we continue to do this today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 9:09 am