A Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings (Year C):

Wisdom 18:6–9
Psalms 33:1, 12, 18 – 19, 20 – 22
Hebrews 11:1 – 2, 8 – 19
Luke 12:32 – 48

Reflection: How do you work for liberation?

Three words or phrases from today’s readings jump out at me and seem to provide the unifying context for the selections: ‘courage’, ‘faith’ and ‘fear not’.

I’ve been thinking about dystopia a lot lately. There seems to be a lot to worry about these days. The rise of Christian nationalism and blatant white supremacy – and the marriage of the two. The current and likely to worsen climate crisis. The slow collapse of democracy. Stories of women and girls unable to obtain medication for autoimmune diseases as a result of Dobbs Supreme Court decision.

Our first reading today points to such a time in the life of the Hebrew people. Enslaved by the Egyptians and going through the last plague before the Passover, the Hebrew people had gone through so much without the promise of victory.

How often do we think of the actual experiences of the Hebrew people before the Exodus?

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What would it have been like to see your entire community doing hard physical labor and returning home each day exhausted with little energy for anything beyond survival?

What might it have been like for every mother to face the loss of her child at birth because a selfish dictator ordered the death of all Hebrew baby boys?

What kind of faith did it take for Moses’ mother and sister to hide him in the reeds, unaware of what the future held for him and them?

This is the context of the Hebrew people when they were warned of the Passover so that they “have courage,” as our first reading says.

Meanwhile, Pharaoh and his court lived in luxury. His daughter could quietly take a bath among the reeds of the river, assisted by several servants.

The dystopia, it seems, simply depends on which side of the socio-political and economic power structures you are on.

It was therefore in a dystopian context that the People of God worked to reverse injustice. Emphasis on work. Liberating practice is hard work. As the first reading of Wisdom says, “in secret the holy children of the good offered sacrifices and implemented the divine institution with one accord.”

As with Abraham, we do not know where we will end up as a nation and as a world in the days, months and years to come. What are we willing to give up “in faith” to go where God calls us?

I suggest that today’s readings provide us with an opportunity to reflect on these questions:

Which side of power do you live on? How do the socio-political and economic institutions of our world serve you? How do you use your power and privilege in service of your own liberation and the liberation of others? How do you work to “implement the divine institution” of liberation and justice?

“Blessed be the people whom God has chosen to belong to God.” God chose the Hebrews. God chose the Palestinians of Judea. God chose the oppressed and those who are marginalized in every society. Will you be among the Blessed?

As Jesus says in today’s gospel, “much will be demanded of the person to whom much has been entrusted, and even more will be demanded of the person to whom more has been entrusted.”

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