An Invitation to Be Light
Fifth Week of Lent 2019
By: Jeanne Connolly, Director of Charism and Mission
Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Fr. Thomas M. Santa, CSsR, writes, “Most people-centered stories of Jesus in the gospel are about relationship, intimacy, forgiveness, and mercy. They’re about becoming whole, integrated, and filled with life. None of Jesus’ stories are about righteousness, judgment, sin, and punishment. We might hear the stories recast that way, but that isn’t how they were intended.”
How frequently do we “recast” a story or a situation with righteousness, judgment, and blame? How easy is it to slip into “they” language that naturally separates us from one another? How often do we hang on to old hurts and “things of long ago” that separate us from experiencing God’s love?
These final weeks before Easter we see a growing negative crowd mentality as the crowd looks for ways to trap Jesus. A negative crowd mentality surrounds us to this day. We see it played out when any group of people or individual is cast in a negative or dismissive light. We might hear it in phrases such as, “They are all criminals and rapists,” “They are paid, they should be happy,” “They are all lazy,” “They don’t speak English,” “Why did they do that?” I am certain you can fill in many more examples of how we cast people and situations in a negative light.
The crowd mentality occurs in the Gospel reading of the Woman Caught in Adultery. We don’t have the whole picture (we seldom do), but we know that the crowd wanted to cast Jesus in a negative light. Instead, Jesus paused, and as a result, invited self-reflection on the part of the crowd. How frequently is our slide into the negative mindset the result of not taking time to be self-reflective? How often does it grow because we desire others to be just like us and not the unique individual God created them to be? Jesus’ invitation is to pause and to enter the light of God’s compassion, mercy and forgiveness for ourselves and others, and to live the way of love.
The word “respect” is derived from the Latin respicere, which means “to look back at” or “to look again.” As Franciscan-hearted people, we are called “to look again, and again” at ourselves and others with new eyes, eyes filled with love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. A person who respects pays attention. This means striving to see situations as they are and not solely through the filter of our own desires, fears, likes, and dislikes. When we follow the crowd, or focus on the anonymous “they,” we create barriers that block the new that is arising.
Always merciful and compassionate God, help me to let go of anything that keeps me from accepting your invitation to be the light of your love in our world today.
Who is the anonymous “they” I am blaming for keeping me from seeing something new?
How might I let go of all that is keeping me from living the way of love?