u-s-catholic-sunday-reflections

A reflection for the nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sister Emily TeKolste, S.P. reflects on the readings for August 7, 2022.

Readings (Year C):

Wisdom 18:6 – 9
Psalms 33:1, 12, 18 – 19, 20 – 22
Hebrews 11:1 – 2, 8 – 19
Luke 12:32 – 48

Reflection: How are you working for liberation?

Three words or phrases from jump out at me from today’s readings that seem to provide the unifying context for the selections: “courage,” “faith,” and “do not be afraid.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about dystopia lately. It seems there’s much to be afraid of these days. The rise of Christian nationalism and blatant white supremacy—and the marriage of the two. The current and likely to be worsening climate crisis. The slow collapse of democracy. The stories of women and girls not being able to get medications for autoimmune disorders following the Dobbs decision from the Supreme Court.

Our first reading today points to such a time in the lives of the Hebrew people. Enslaved by the Egyptians and going through the last of the plagues before the Passover, the Hebrew people had been through so much with no promise of victory.

How often do we think about the real experiences of the Hebrew people before the exodus?

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What might it have been like to watch your whole community do hard physical labor and return home every day exhausted with little energy for anything beyond survival?

What might it have been like for every mother to face losing her child as soon as he was born because an egomaniacal dictator ordered the deaths of all Hebrew baby boys?

What kind of faith did it take for Moses’ mother and sister to hide him in the reeds, unaware of what the future held for him and for them?

That’s the context of the Hebrew people when they were warned of the Passover so that “they might have courage,” as our first reading states.

Meanwhile, Pharaoh and his court lived in luxury. His daughter could take a leisurely bath among the reeds of the river, attended by multiple servants.

Dystopia, it seems, just depends on what side of the socio-political and economic power structures you’re on.

So it was in a dystopian context that the people of God were working to overthrow the injustice. Emphasis on working. Liberatory practice is hard work. As the first reading from Wisdom says, “In secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.”

As with Abraham, we don’t know where we will end up as a nation and as a world in the coming days, months, and years. What are we willing to give up “in faith” to get us to where God is calling us?

I propose that today’s readings offer us the chance to reflect on these questions:

What side of power do you live on? How do the socio-political and economic institutions of our world serve you? How are you using your power and privilege in service of your own liberation and the liberation of others? How are you working to “put into effect the divine institution” of liberation and justice?

“Blessed are the people God has chosen to be God’s own.” God has chosen the Hebrews. God has chosen the Palestinians of Judea. God has chosen the oppressed and those shoved to the margins in every society. Will you be among the blessed?

As Jesus says in today’s gospel, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

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About the author

Sister Emily Tekolste, S.P.

Sr. Emily TeKolste is a Sister of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She lives in Indiana, loves to garden, and ministers as Grassroots Mobilization Coordinator at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

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