If one spends some time reading through all the news stories, commentators, blog posts, and YouTube videos seeking an understanding of what’s going on in the world and within the Church, one will walk away feeling quite despairingly about the future. There has developed a sense of distrust perhaps in both the Church and our society because time has not been given by leaders to stop and listen to those who think differently than we do. It has become far more difficult for young people and adults to listen to, much less accept, the experiences and opinions of others who do not agree with their point of view.
One of the most difficult things to do as adults is to recognize and acknowledge that one’s expectations of others may often be misplaced. There is a difference between inspiring others to value one’s passion and vision and punishing people for not doing so. The same can be said about evangelizing. There is a difference between presenting the good news and demanding that you accept the news I bring you to be good.
The important and necessary skill of listening patiently and lovingly seems to be absent from our political and social spheres if we look at the vengeance and vehemence that is being displayed. The double standards and hypocrisy are allowed to continue primarily because those who commit such hypocrisy are not confronted by others who perceive it. This lack of courage does not only display ambivalence and apathy but also a true absence of love for the common good.
God never forces anyone to follow his commandments or to believe in his sayings. God provides a path out of suffering and death but allows us to freely choose it: to see the Truth for ourselves, to understand it, and to make it our own. There is no such thing as a forced love. Love requires our free will and ascent so that it can bond and unite those who have given themselves to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.
In the first reading, God calls Samuel. God does not force Samuel to respond to his calling but rather he is instructed by the Prophet Eli as to how to respond to the Lord’s call. In the gospels as well, John the Baptist sends his disciples to go and follow Jesus. When they finally encounter him, they do not ask what he believes, what he stands for, or “What do we get out of it.” They only ask: “Where do you live?” This question seeks entry into a space of intimacy in Jesus’ life. To be a disciple of Christ is not a matter of political venture, but a personal response to a friendship that requires self-giving sacrifice.
Very Rev. Esequiel Sanchez, Rector