January 19, 2023
AND YOU COMFORTED ME
A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thomas P, Bonacci, C.P.
As the Gospel of St. Matthew unfolds throughout this liturgical year, many Christians will hear of the ongoing confrontation between Jesus and those charged with political and religious authority. The Nazarian was uncompromising in defense of the poor and those who suffered injustice. He demanded his disciples welcome strangers and “outsiders” with the love of God. Jesus did not separate his religious convictions from his practical life. He invited anyone who would follow him to be generous of heart, even to a would-be enemy.
The liturgical year will conclude with the reading of Matthew 25: 31-46. The blessed of God will be those who fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, comforted the sick, and shared friendships with prisoners. His teachings had enormous implications for the social and political order of his day. In fact, the Roman State found his teachings intolerable. Over and over again, Matthew tells us how seriously Jesus followed in the footsteps of the Prophets who associated true worship of God with justice for the widow, orphan, and stranger.
As we look at the political landscape of contemporary America, we might wonder how Jesus and the Prophets would fare. There is good reason to believe Jesus and the Prophets would find themselves rejected as insurrectionists against the established order. It seems fashionable in the current political climate to make enemies, not friends, to compromise the rights of the powerless, and objectify the immigrant as sinister.
In his September 2015 address to the Cuban government, Pope Francis reminded those charged with governmental power to defend the poor and the oppressed. Furthermore, the Pope reminded the World of the vocational nature of political office in the cause of those who need help, support, encouragement, and justice. Finally, Pope Francis reminded political leaders of their responsibility to be of service to all people:
“There is a kind of “service” which serves others, yet we need to be careful not to be tempted by another kind of service, one which is “self-serving” with regard to others. There is a way to go about serving which is interested in only helping “my people”, “our people”. This service always leaves “your people” outside, and gives rise to a process of exclusion.”
The great Faith Traditions of the World invite us never to forget the oneness of our human family. While we enjoy diverse languages and cultures, we share a common humanity. Therefore, let us strive to be people who care about one another. Let us resist the politics of exclusion and injustice.
Blessings to you, Holy Community, for all the times you blessed others with the love in your hearts and the courage in your souls.