Lay it to Heart
I don’t know where to start with this Sunday’s readings; the scripture is so rich. There is so much to think about and discern, and God tells us exactly where to take all of this, not to our heads but to our hearts.
Rules are an interesting concept we need to have to live in community; how else would we know how to work within all the systems we need to survive? And how can rules work if we don’t have someone to oversee them? We need someone to be in charge of things like the economic and medical systems; what about our food and education systems? So, what about our faith system; who administers that? Well, the practical answer would be the bishops. And, like other forms of leadership, don’t we love to question them? On the surface, Matthew’s version of the Gospel and the first reading from Malachi seems very clear; the leaders have done a poor job and led the faithful astray. They took the rules and used them to make the faith life impossible for their people. We can see what is happening here: the leaders became powerful and took advantage of those who could not question them.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I fully support the direction Pope Francis is taking us in; clericalism is real, and it is dangerous. Our leadership has allowed some horrific things to happen. However, part of fixing any system is about understanding it, and I don’t believe many of us fully understand our system. Vatican II made something very clear: as baptized people, we are all priests, prophets and kings. That statement has a lot wrapped up, too much for this reflection. However, if we look at the first of the three, we are all priests. So now, how does Matthew’s story read? I’m not saying that we all need to try and be in charge or do the job of bishops. But I would say that in this context, we are all guilty of using the rules to take advantage of others.
In 1 Thessalonians, I hear Paul very clearly speaking about community, “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own selves.” We cannot do any of this alone; we need each other. We are better people and better Christians when we are together. How can we be in community if all we are doing is using the rules to keep each other down? Paul thanks those in his letter for hearing The Word of God in what he has been sharing, not his own words. Imagine if we could listen to each other as if God were speaking to us; how intentional and loving would we be with our words? I know this is not exactly what Paul is getting at, but sometimes things have more than one meaning. If we lay it on our hearts, we may be able to hear something we have been missing.
The Psalm for Sunday reads, “In you, Lord, I have found my peace.” Imagine taking all our thoughts to our hearts, where God is within us. How peaceful would we be?
By Serena Shaw
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate
Contact info: linktr.ee/oblatevocations