30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By John Dalla Costa
With the Year of Mercy ending soon, our question as church, and as individuals, is whether this year has made any difference. Personally, I’d grade myself an “incomplete.” I’d liked to have done more, learned more, and changed more. But I also trust that seeds have been planted – in my heart, in our church, and in our world – that are germinating still, and will yet yield a surprising harvest. One small seed with enormous potential comes from Francis’ invitation to speak gently.
As a writer and teacher I love words, and mourn for how we’ve so debased language for the sake of commerce, politics or ideology. By demoralizing our words we’ve also drained facts of their ethical value, leaving us bereft of understanding even as we drown in reams of data. Our words matter. What we say to others, or about others, has a material impact on the hope and dignity we’re creating together. So the simple task of changing our words can radically change our world, and the way we see it. Another seed involves recovering the feminine dimension of our church. In his book, which preceded the Jubilee, Walter (Cardinal) Kasper explains that Mary is the exemplar of mercy.
That she received the Word, bore God in her womb, helped Jesus to grow and go into the world, shows how we too can embody God’s mercy to one another. The feminine spiritual wisdom of silent heeding, attentive waiting, and purposeful self-offering, as modelled by Mary – and which has been coming ever more visibly to life in our liturgy, prayers, community, and social justice work at St. Basil – represents an antidote for the misogyny still all too present in our culture.
Today’s readings, while focused on God’s justice, remind us that mercy is not for the fainthearted. When he launched the Jubilee, Francis explained that his aim was to spark a wholesale conversion. With our global society stuck in self-fulfilling indifference, Francis invoked mercy to help us develop the skills of heart and imagination to become disruptors in the cause of God’s justice. With the year soon ending, that task of growing mercy to grow justice has only begun.
Sirach 35.15-17, 20-22 2
Timothy 4.6-8, 16-18