Daily Reflection
October 27th, 2006

Cathy Weiss Pedersen

Campus Ministry
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Ephesians 4:1-6
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
Luke 12:54-59

Contrasts are a part of life: In the Midwest, we experience the changing of the seasons, the almost unbearable humidity and heat of summer and the biting wind and bitter cold of winter; or the brilliant fall colors of the trees against the late October blue sunny skies and the droopy dead vegetable and flower gardens from the previous night’s hard freeze. In family life, we are filled with joy at the birth of a child, and overcome with grief at the death bed of an aging parent. In our everyday world, we celebrate a friend or colleague’s accomplishments, and mourn another’s news of job loss, financial disaster, or serious illness.
As I reflected on today’s readings, I was startled by the disparity between Paul’s letter and Jesus’ words. I usually find some connection between the readings of the day, so I struggled with the stark contrasts and differences in tone and message of today’s scriptures.

From prison, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is filled with hope and encouragement to, “…treat each other charitably…persevere in selflessness, gentleness and patience…in the unity of the Spirit through the peace that binds you together…just as you were called (through baptism) into one hope.” Paul realizes the difficulties of the newly formed community attempting to live into their baptismal call. In today’s world, certainly the Amish community in Pennsylvania witnesses this message, forgiving the killer of their young daughters in the horrendous attack at their school just a few weeks ago.

On the other hand, today’s reading from Luke’s gospel presents a harsh contrast when Jesus accuses his listeners, “You hypocrites! If you can interpret the portents of the earth and sky, why can’t you interpret the present time? Tell me why don’t you judge for yourselves what is just?” Out of context, these words seem severe; however, Jesus’ frustration is centered on those who hear, but do not respond to God’s message. I suppose that in today’s idiom, we might say that some of the leaders who continued to challenge Jesus’ teachings just ‘didn’t get it!’

But do we, do I ‘get it’ today? How do I understand God’s baptismal call in my day to day life? How do I interpret today’s events and struggles in the light of God’s presence in my life? The psalmist reminds us that we don’t have to face life’s disparities, contrasts and confusions alone. In fact, the latter part of Psalm 24 repeats the phrase, “Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors and the Holy One will come in.” All that is needed is to open one’s self to God’s presence, and God is with us. True…we do believe that God is ever-present. But until we reciprocate and become present/open to God, it is like having a friend physically next to us, but refusing to acknowledge the person’s presence.

As we approach election time in our country, my prayer is that we each open ourselves to God’s Spirit of wisdom and grace so that we can, “…interpret the present time,” in the Spirit of, “…hope, charity, gentleness, selflessness and patience.” Then, as we reflect with our “Faithful Citizenship”** guidelines, and study, discuss, and prepare to vote in the midst of the multitudes of contrasts in rhetoric, platforms and personalities, may we invite our God into our hearts and minds as we go the polls in November.

** “Faithful Citizenship”, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2003.

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