Love and Watchfulness
Today’s Scripture readings highlight the relationships that exist among believers: Ezekiel uses the image of a watchman, St. Paul speaks of the practical and loving person, and Jesus encourages fraternal dialogue and even correction as needed. No doubt, we human beings have deep bonds that join us as God’s family; to strengthen those bonds is truly a 21st century challenge!
Recent weeks have seen those of us in the United States deal with Hurricane Irene – and remember similar tragedies in years past with Katrina, Gustav, Ike, etc. Our lives have been touched by these powerful storms; a number of people lost their lives, some their property. These powerful storms each began as tropical depressions, watched by weather officials; as they strengthened, warnings and even evacuations were ordered in a concerted effort to protect life and property. The forecasters watch for us, helping us be aware and encouraging us to plan ahead.
The Liturgy reminds us that we have responsibilities to one another as "storms" and challenges arise in the lives of those we love. We love one another by our watchfulness and warnings, as well as practically reaching out with help. Like Ezekiel, God has appointed us watchpersons for one another, with a special relationship based on our belief in the person of Jesus. We are to encourage one another, to challenge one another, to forgive one another…to foster relationships as best we can. Practically, this means such activities as helping our children truly grow up as faith-filled human beings, dealing with struggles in marriage and jobs, dealing with health issues or addictive behaviors, and even challenging one another when laziness creeps into the practice of our faith.
No doubt the Scriptures challenge us, and we could easily respond "well, people won’t listen to me…I don’t want to upset so and so…I’m not good at this sort of thing". Jesus reminds us of our obligation to love as He does: credibly, practically, in both good times and not-so-good times. We are to use our God-given awareness and abilities to build up one another, to help avoid the pitfalls and storms of life.
Today, we pray in gratitude for our many gifts and blessings, and ask for the grace to do the right thing as we love and watch for one another. We pray together with the Church this Sunday…and as Jesus points out, there is power in people praying together…like the power of a hurricane!
May our love for God and one another help transform our world!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.