Based on Lectionary # 482
Reading 1: EPH 6:10-20
Psalm: 144:1B, 2, 9-10
Gospel: LK 13:31-35
Reflection on the Readings of the Day
Shortly after its premier in the USA, I watched the new documentary film about Pope Francis, simply titled, Francesco. It’s not your typical biography. It’s a movie that shows us the reality of the world that we may not see or to which we have limited exposure. The movie touches about many issues including, climate change, war and peace, the refugee crises, clergy sexual abuse, religious intolerance, and social inequality. Through the example of the pastoral leadership Pope Francis, which is rooted in the example of Jesus Christ, we have a pathway to imagining what a brighter future can be. If there has ever been a moment when the world needed missionaries of God’s hope, compassion, unity, and redemption… it’s now. And it’s not going to be an easy journey.
Just reading the headlines, listening to the daily newscast, and scrolling through posts on social media are enough to make me anxious and almost afraid to face the state that the world is in. In the Gospel, we hear the Pharisees try to make Jesus scared, too, telling him that Herod is coming to kill him. You should get out of here, they say. But, Jesus is not afraid and doesn’t back down. He says to them, thanks, but no thanks — I’m going to continue doing what I am doing as long as I stay true to God. The same goes for us who are discerning our lives of service. Rather than letting the reality of fear and suffering to force us to retreat, the gospel is inviting us to refocus and persevere in healing the earth, bridging gaps, repairing relationships, and restoring dignity. He won’t, of course, send us empty-handed and unprepared.
Our first reading gives us the tools for the mission in which we are being formed. The letter written in Paul’s name illustrates six things steeped in symbolism which we will need. First, be grounded in the truth. Second, be in proper relationship with God. Third, be ready to work for peace. Fourth, rely on your faith to protect you. Fifth, renew your minds and keep an eternal perspective. And sixth, carry the Word of God as our tool for softening and changing hearts.
As the first reading comes to the end, it reminds us that the redemption of the world and our own readiness for mission are fortified through prayer in the Spirit, so that when the moment comes we will know what is the right thing to say, we will be bold in proclaiming the Good News, and we will have the courage to use our voice for good even when we want to hold back.
As I watched Francesco, the soundtrack playing in the background caught my attention. It was a sampling of a familiar church song, but I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. It was a variation of The Servant Song, in a minor key. As we continue to prepare ourselves to serve as God’s missionaries of hope, compassion, unity, and redemption, I think the lyrics of the background music underscore what we hoping to achieve with the help of the Spirit:
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the nighttime of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through