Jesus Christ started a revolution: we find joy in the renewed world only when we love family first and help others
What does it mean to be harassed and dejected? We can think of refugees fleeing the war in Sudan. We can think of children who have lost their parents… or even those who are going through a separation of their parents. Or can you remember how it felt, as a child, to become separated from our parents in a crowded shop? What are they all looking for, hoping for?
Surely the first desire we have is for security, and certainty that we can be re-connected to our loved ones. Unfortunately, many criminals take advantage of people who are lost or refugees: they promise freedom, but end up exploiting them by taking their money or human trafficking.
By contrast, in the First Reading we hear God telling the people through Moses: “You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians… From this you know that now, if you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all the nations shall be my very own, for all the earth is mine. I will count you a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation’.”
The “consecrated nation” is not an ethnic tribe, but all the people who are faithful to God.
We are now guided on how to discern who is a genuine helper that will lead us to safety, and find our loved ones again: check who has a history of helping, and not exploiting, people.
Too often in our world we trust people or activities that bring pleasure, but eventually they lead us into selfishness and unhappiness, as the following story illustrates:
So a politician died and stood before St Peter who told him “you must spend a day in Hell before choosing Heaven or Hell for eternity.” He entered the elevator and exited at Hell. Satan greeted him wearing a nice suit and holding a glass of champagne. The politician is amazed and sees people and friends enjoying themselves and celebrating. There are air-conditioners, etc. He asked Satan “this is Hell? But, where’s all the pain and suffering?” Satan winks and says ‟We’ve been misjudged over the years. We even have a golf course.” After the day, he entered the elevator back to St Peter, who asked “what is your choice: Hell or Heaven.”
The Politician says, “I can’t believe it, but I will choose Hell.” So he jumped into the elevator and goes down. As he stepped out of the elevator, he saw burned out buildings, no grass, fires burning here and there and Satan giving him an evil grin. His friends there looked unhappy, skinny and with torn clothes. ‟What’s this?” the politician cried out. And Satan replied ‟Yesterday, we were campaigning. But today, you voted.”
So, God is the only source of security, hope and lasting joy that does not become selfish. Perhaps you are getting tired of the things that you thought would bring you joy and security?
So, what to do now? It seems that most of the leaders in the world are all looking to better themselves, so all the people are doing the same. How do we find a leader who will guide us to a lifestyle and place where we find real and lasting joy? Let’s review St Paul’s Letter: But what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
This is why Jesus said “many are called but few are chosen.” To be a shepherd means suffering for others. And most of us do not want it: priests and parents alike. When hardships come, do we stay or run away? Do we decide because “they no longer make me happy?”
Most of us keep turning away from God thinking we can be happier if we have this or that. But, fortunately for us, God is very compassionate and will welcome us back. And the way God welcomes us back is through local “leaders” in our community.
Jesus selected ordinary people to be Apostles and they did amazing things in standing up to the Roman rulers, etc. And, eventually, with the grace of God the world started changing for the better, and eventually to democracy. The question is “will we misuse our freedom?”
The message here is that God works through ordinary people like you and I to lead people close to us. Just as the Kenyan President said, “we will have a bottom up approach,” so, too, God works from the bottom up. As we repent (turn around personally), so we help our families to improve; and good healthy families create a good healthy community (where we find joy).
The bottom up approach is reflected in these instructions: ‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ Happiness starts at home, but we need to work at it by investing more than words.
It is often easier to help others and receive their thanks, than to help our loved ones and be taken for granted or, perhaps, be misunderstood! But unless we take time to love, help, nurture and protect our immediate family, we will fail to be true witnesses of God’s love for us. Outsiders will view us with suspicion.
Please pause and consider: Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly, Remain faithful.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI