Reflection for Sunday – February 26, 2017

Readings: Isaiah 49: 14-15; 1 Corinthians 4: 1-5; Matthew 6: 24-34
Preacher: Sr. Janet Korn RSM

When things in life begin to look bleak and troublesome we tend to pull away, as it were, to take shelter or look for some space and time to deal with the issue or issues that troubles us. We take time out to go on a retreat or spend some time alone wrestling with the things that bother us. We generally pray for light, truth and courage.

These past few months have led many of us into the desert, if not a physical desert, then certainly a virtual spiritual one. Energies have been drained, spirits exhausted and a feeling of helplessness invades our hearts.

Could Moses have felt the same? His people were living under the domination of the Egyptians. They had become slaves rather than free men and women. Moses was weighed down by the suffering of his people and eventually, in a moment of anger, killed an Egyptian who threatened one of his Hebrew brothers. The anger that he was holding inside for so long erupted in an act of murder.

Moses knew that soon the Pharaoh would be looking to kill him. Devastated by the state of his people and out of fear for his life he, too, fled to the desert. He, like us, had to get away to think things out and feed his drooping spirit. Moses hid for years while establishing a family and caring for sheep but he continually thought about his brothers and sisters he left behind in Egypt. As the days and years passed Moses could never forget the suffering of his people but while he lived with their pain in his heart he was gradually renewing his own strength and his sense of purpose.

The power of his God was healing him and clarifying his vocation until he became inflamed with love, courage and justice for his people. Moses was ready! He knew that the power of his God was with him and would give him all the fire that he needed to lead his people to freedom. Moses burned with the desire to release his people from bondage and lead them into freedom from tyranny and oppression.
It took Moses years of contemplation to gather the wisdom and courage to lead his people to freedom. We, too, need time and prayer to gather our courage and energy to support our call in life. We need to be pruned, to be prepared, nurtured and strengthened.

Today’s Gospel makes us aware that of ourselves “we can do nothing.” This is especially true when times are difficult, confusing and unknown. It’s possible to go for years just putting one foot in front of the other, going about our daily tasks with little energy and even less enthusiasm.

The tree in the Gospel narrative hadn’t produced any fruit in years. Every now and then we can say that about our lives. We ask ourselves, “Where has the time gone?” “What have I done with my life?” “Where should I put my energy now?” When those thoughts invade our beings it behooves us to step back and, like Moses, take the time and the prayer to rekindle our fire. Just like the tree in the Gospel had to be cultivated, so too do we need to be watered, refreshed and renewed. When we take time to ponder our mission in life we go about living our lives more mindfully, thoughtfully and with purpose. We know and feel our direction more clearly.

Is it possible that for years in our country we have been living like the dormant tree, totally consumed by personal pressures while failing to see the painful signs of racism? Have we been asleep as the one percent accumulated so much of this world’s profits while the majority around the world was working for poverty wages? Have we not appreciated the “outsiders” who come to plant and pick our crops? Have we told the war-torn people of Aleppo that we have no room for them? Have we intentionally been blind to the ways we rape our earth because we want to extract all that it has to offer? Is this our tree that has been lying dormant? Is this our tree that has failed to produce?

Let us dig around this tree and release all that it has to offer—charity, truth, justice, wisdom…all that has been trapped within it…within us. And, like Moses, we can lead the country to freedom.

Sr. Janet Korn, RSM

Sister Janet Korn, RSM, is the coordinator of Justice Ministry for Sisters of Mercy in Buffalo and Rochester. She has served as an elementary school teacher, worked as a missionary in Chile (1959-1965), and worked as the coordinator of urban ministry for the Diocesan Parish and Clergy Services.
Sr. Janet Korn, RSM

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