The Shiny Penny


The Shiny Penny

This week’s readings have me thinking about distractions, the proverbial shiny penny. How easily we can all be distracted away from God. There are so many things that can grab our attention and lead us on a path away from where we are headed. As human beings, this is something we will always have to deal with; and so, we need each other to practice the discipline needed to stay the course.

In the first reading in Exodus, we hear that God is angry with His people as they have become distracted by bounty and beautiful things. Here we have a community that had been enslaved for generations and has now achieved freedom; and this has not been an easy journey. Can we really blame them for wanting to enjoy the abundance that they have finally acquired? No, I don’t think we can. Yet, the celebration of having, has become a distraction. They have forgotten how to treat each other, how to treat themselves, and how to love God. Having nice things is not a sin; however, if we aren’t using our blessings, whether material or otherwise to benefit the community on our path to God, this is a failing on our part, as we aren’t really a community at all.

In Timothy, we have a beautiful story about mercy. Here, we read about how easy it could be to write off Timothy. We can be distracted by his transgressions instead of focusing on the mercy he has been shown by Jesus. Because of his faults and the forgiveness he has received, he is now able to share mercy and the gospel message with others.

In Luke’s gospel account we hear three very well-known parables. The shepherd looking for one lost sheep, the woman looking for one lost coin, and a father reuniting with one of his sons. These stories seem counterintuitive on the surface; it feels like we are being distracted by a minority, when taking care of the majority should really be enough. However, if even one of us in the Body of Christ is missing or hurting, shouldn’t that be the priority? We can become distracted by the fact that “most” of us are happy, we can be distracted by jealousy when the father celebrates the son we perceive to have done wrong. We can be distracted by thinking that our ideas are more right than those of others in the community.

It takes all of us, working together in community to make sure that we stay focused on the end goal. We need to be there to help each other when we get distracted by things that may often not even seem wrong on the surface. The message of Jesus is about contradictions. Things that seem good can be bad, our righteous ideas can cause pain, and our strengths can be our weaknesses. Yet, if we aren’t in community, how will we ever know? If we don’t have others to help us remain focused on our love of Christ, how will we avoid the shiny penny? And if we aren’t in it together, can we really reach eternal life?

By Serena Shaw
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate
Phone: (780) 231-3066