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Really hearing

I still remember the first time as if it were today. Actually, it was some 50 years ago at an Easter Vigil in the late 1960’s. As a newly ordained I knew I was living in a time of social turmoil. Liz, an undergraduate student, reached into my heart as she forcefully proclaimed the passage from Isaiah. “Can’t you see I am doing something new?”

I had “heard” the passage many times before. This time was different.

In her passion I could hear the frustration of the prophet crying out “thus says the Lord…!” Israel was in cultural and religious crisis in the midst of their Babylonian captivity.

The Bishop’s Labor Day statement 2020 begins “This Labor Day is a somber one. The COVID-19 pandemic goes on. Economic circumstances for so many families are stressful or even dire. Anxiety is high.”

They are quick to add … Pope Francis points out in a set of beautiful and challenging reflections on the pandemic,

In this wasteland, the Lord is committed to the regeneration of beauty and rebirth of hope: ‘Behold, I am doing something new: right now it is sprouting, don’t you see it?’ (Is 43:19). God never abandons his people, he is always close to them, especially when pain becomes more present.” As God declares to John in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). God knows the challenges we face and the loss and grief we feel.

The Question Today

They continue…

The question to us is this: will we pray for and willingly participate in God’s work healing the hurt, loss, and injustice that this pandemic has caused and exposed? Will we offer all we can to the Lord to “make all things new?”

Pope Francis writes… We are all frail, all equal, all precious. May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us: the time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family!

The fruits of individualism are clear in the disparities brought to light by this crisis. Through our work of solidarity, let us be a counter-witness to individualism. “Let us not think only of our interests, our vested interests. Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future, a future for all without discarding anyone.” Let us pray for the grace to participate in God’s work in healing what is so deeply wounded in our society. Let our response to the Psalm at Mass this Labor Day echo in deed and truth: “Lead me in your justice, Lord” (Ps 5:9).

Participating in God’s work

Christ has no body but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

St. Teresa of Ávila (attributed)

Will you participate in God’s work of healing?

PS I encourage you to read the entire 43rd chapter of Isaiah against the backdrop of our world today.

Click below to listen to an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.

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