Have you ever been with someone and the moment you start taking about something uncomfortable or something that someone doesn’t want to hear, they stick their fingers in their ears and usually start singing something, so they don’t hear? God’s voice can make us uncomfortable sometimes, too. We hear the Scriptures and, like today’s second reading from James, I would not rather hear it because it is uncomfortable to hear. Listen to it again:
My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please, ” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet, ” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?
As a parish community, we need to be ready to not only give to Concerns U or Circles of Mercy or Unity House or wherever, we also need to be ready to have someone from any of those places sitting next to us and welcome them as Jesus did. This is the core of discipleship: to be like Jesus and to bring the Good News to the poor and the forgotten of society. Everything Isaiah described in the first reading are the signs that the Messiah is among us. It is up to us, you and me, to now be the signs of the reality of the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed
I have been saying that we need to challenge the Bishops of the United States and the Church to authentic discipleship and I stand behind my words. We need to hold them to accountability. Yet, we need to be living it ourselves, or as St Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13: you are a noisy gong or clanging cymbal without love. I would change it to without living as authentic disciples.
To be a Christian disciple is not an easy call. It demands from us the willingness to say publicly, “I believe in Jesus and I am Catholic” which is not an easy thing to say right now. It demands from us the willingness to be like Jesus and touch the hurting and lowly of the world. It demands that we give up the desire for the best clothes or the finest things and befriend those who have nothing.
As hard as it is to hear it, it is the truth of the Gospel.
The poor and lowly one we welcome to sit next to us here in church is Jesus himself. The stranger in our midst is Jesus himself The one who doesn’t look like us is Jesus himself
May the Lord touch our ears and open them to hear his voice and our lips to sing his praise; for He is God among us