October 6th - 2019
The 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“How long, O LORD, shall I cry out,
yet you do not listen?
I scream “outrage” to you and you do not rescue.
Why do you show me mischief and you look upon wretchedness?
Plunder and outrage are before me,
quarrel and contention I bear.
(Therefore teaching fails and
justice never comes forth.)…
And the LORD answered me and said:
“Write down the vision, make it clear on the tablets,
so that one may read it readily,
For there is yet a vision for the appointed time
and a witness for the end who is
Though it tarries, wait for it, for
it shall surely come, it shall not delay…
The righteous man lives through his
(from Hab 1:2-4, 2:2-4; Hebrew
translation by Robert Alter)
Pondering the Word…
I’ve mentioned before that I am honored to serve as the spiritual development
advisor to a group of wonderful retired persons who volunteer through the
Ignatian Volunteer Corps in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The volunteers are
involved in direct service to the poor, the elderly, immigrants, the mentally
challenged. We get together regularly to share our experiences in light of
scripture and God’s covenant. Our theme this year is “Trusting God’s Promises:
Social Justice and Hope,” and today’s reading from Habakkuk is right on target.
Whether it is a deeply personal intention for which we are praying, or a more
general cry of lament like the prophet’s, it often feels like God is not
listening. We wonder why God does not rescue us from the misery of both natural
and man-made disasters and suffering that take place. We may look to the
teachings of God’s prophets—ancient and current day—and the teachings of his
son, the witness to the vision, and think all has failed, that justice will
God says the vision will come, but we are called to live through our
faithfulness today, not waiting around for some far-off utopia in the clouds,
but to be instruments of God’s vision, right here, right now.
“Wait for it, for it shall surely come.”
And with God’s grace, it will come, in some small way, through you and through
me and through all who serve their brothers and sisters with loving and
Living the Word…
In the second reading today, Paul encourages Timothy to remain faithful, “to
stir into flame” the gifts God has given, to not lose hope. God does not give us
a spirit of cowardice; instead we are empowered by love and self-control to
remain faithful to God’s vision and God’s promise. In the gospel, Jesus reminds
us this faithfulness and perseverance is exactly what is expected of us as God’s
servants. Nothing less will do.
If you find yourself disheartened or bitter about the lack of justice and peace
you see, don’t sit back and complain. Be a voice for change, for peace, for
love. Stir into flame your gifts and offer them to others.
(If you are interested in learning more about the Ignatian Volunteer Corps in
the US, go to https://ivcusa.org/)
The word of the LORD came to Jonah: "Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah made
ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD. (Jon: 1-2:1-2, 11)
This week, we are treated to the Book of Jonah, a fable chocked full of the
wonder and complexity of humanity’s interaction with the Divine. Jonah’s
relationship with God is so real. We might think Jonah is wimping out on his job
as a prophet, but as Robert Alter comments, “To send a Hebrew prophet to
Nineveh would be like sending a Jewish speaker to deliver a moral exhortation to
the Germens in Berlin in 1936.” Jonah does not want to go because he’s
afraid he might be successful, which means God would show mercy to the Ninevites
(4.2), but he also fears for his life. He winds up having to sacrifice it
anyway…except God’s mercy comes through yet again. This short, powerful book
forces us to look at ourselves. Do we run from God’s will out of fear or an
unwillingness to learn something new, to have our opinions challenged? Might we
be just a wee bit resentful when God grants God’s all-encompassing mercy on
those we deem unworthy?
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need
of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from
Sharing a tweet from the Maryknolls earlier this year that opened up for me a
whole new perspective on this story: Maryknoll Missioners (@MaryknollFrsBrs)
7/21/19, 10:34 AM: “Jesus commends Mary’s violation of social norms that
dictate a woman’s job is to serve; a man’s privilege is to sit at Jesus’ feet.
Too bad a few of the men didn’t put aside their privilege and get up to help
Martha.” Jesus was not afraid to dispel commonly held beliefs about gender
roles. Perhaps we should be thinking about this as well? (And who knows--maybe
an enlightened man or two in the group got the message and allowed Martha to sit
while they served!)
Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the
evil he threatened against Nineveh. ...But the LORD asked, “Have you reason to
Translation: “And the thing was very evil for Jonah, and he was incensed.
…And the Lord said, “Are you good and angry?” Alter points out that after
the Ninevites repent and God spares them the evil he had threatened, Jonah then
harbors evil in his heart. Provocative, isn’t it? And God provokes Jonah even
more by his response. It’s interesting….prophets in the Bible are rarely
successful in terms of getting people to change their ways; it even seems they
like to be angry. What happens to all that righteous anger when their message is
listened to and acted upon? Do they, like Moses, continue to intervene when the
people inevitably slip back into evil ways? Do they, like Jesus, ask for God’s
mercy upon the people even in the face of death? How do we react when those we
view as “fallen” repent?
You have said, "It is vain to serve God, and what do we profit by keeping his
command? Rather must we call the proud blessed; for indeed evildoers prosper,
and even tempt God with impunity?"(Mal
powerful readings from the Old Testament this week! This passage hearkens back
to our reflection on Sunday. It may seem that evil is having its way and those
who make a mockery of God’s laws do so with impunity. But our hope, our strength
is in God’s promise: “For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of
justice with its healing rays.”
Then (the unclean spirit) goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked
than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is
worse than the first."
A good reminder for those who have experienced the healing hand of God’s mercy.
Don’t take it for granted. Evil and temptation are always lurking, looking for a
way in. Our human nature is weak. Return constantly to the throne of grace for
strength and forgiveness and always forgive others. Don’t let resentment and
bitterness create a place for discord to plant a new seed.
are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
And especially blessed are those who hear God’s invitation and accept it; those
who willingly put aside their own assumptions and fears, their own plans for
their lives, and risk carrying and bearing Christ in the world. “Hail, Mary,
full of grace, blessed are you among women.”
Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
We hope you
enjoy "Come and See!"
and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at
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© 2009 - 2018, Elaine H. Ireland -