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THE BEGINNING OF ECUMENISM

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23 & Lk. 9:51-56

Job was so miserable in his misfortunes that he wished he had never been born. He was near despair because he could not see any reason or purpose for his sufferings. It was only through a desperate and blind act of faith that he continued to cling to God.

There must be many people who feel as Job did because of the troubles and hardships they experience. A child may die of some illness, a loved one may be killed or injured in an accident, a marriage partner is deserted or a breadwinner is made redundant. It is easy to feel despair, as Job did, and to ask God why these things are happening. That is a natural human reaction.

We often have no control over the disasters which occur in our lives. But we can choose how we react to them. We can allow tragedy to defeat us, giving in to misery, bitterness and hopelessness. This poisons our lives and our relationships with other people. On the other hand, we can react positively. We can believe that God can bring good out of tragedy. Life will never be the same as before, but we can learn to live and even enjoy life in a new and different way. There are many examples of people who suffered terrible disasters but with God’s help they were able to find a purpose for living.

Jesus knew that He was heading for a showdown with His enemies during the feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. He might have tried to avoid a confrontation but that would merely have delayed completion of His Mission. Messengers were sent ahead to inform the villages along the way that He would be passing through: one was a Samaritan community but they refused to give Him passage - the Samaritans and the Jews were enemies.

The Apostles James and John made the mistake of wanting to punish that village for not welcoming Jesus. Would they not have done better to have encouraged Jesus, with all His ability and power, to try and convert them to share the blessings of the Jews and to worship the one true God in Jerusalem? That would have been more positive thinking on their part! He chose a detour rather than making an issue of how the Samaritans had responded to His request.

We Catholics can make the mistake of assuming that the Holy Spirit limits His attention to us. We forget that the Spirit lives and moves wherever He wills and that He can work just as effectively through a pagan as He does through a Christian. Yet there are many proofs of this.

While the Church has been given the great gift of the sacraments as a means of spiritual life we are called to be a source of blessing to the whole world. To be a Catholic is to have a universal outlook, to go beyond the desire to save our own soul to a concern for all of God's people.

Lord Jesus, may we never underestimate our importance in God's plan, because Your Father wants to make us, through our prayers and sacrifices, a channel of His grace to the whole world. The salvation and well-being of many people depends on our prayers and sacrifices.

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