Weekend Reflection - by Aidan Troy, C.P.
I’ve a confession to make! A luxury to which I sometimes treat myself is to pay some extra € for ‘priority boarding’ when taking a flight to Ireland. A seat at the front of the plane and a quick exit when landed appeals to me.
Jesus did not make many friends when He made it clear at the synagogue in Nazareth that there was no ‘priority’ line for getting into Heaven! He made them really angry by reminding them of a low point in their history when God punished the people of Israel with a famine. Jesus put salt in their wound be recalling that in the midst of this severe shortage, Elijah was sent to a widow in Sidon - a pagan woman.
To add insult to injury, Jesus recalls that there were many lepers in Israel in the lifetime of Elisha the prophet. Yet, it was Naaman, another outsider, who was cured. No more than I would want to hear this about my religion or my country, the listeners to Jesus on that Saturday did not like it. Like me, they wanted reassurance that ‘we’ are right, and ‘they’ are not; ‘we’ are special in God’s eyes in comparison to ‘them’. God’s ways are not always my ways.
Some Divine truths can be bitter. Do any of us not get angry when told a ‘home’ truth about ourselves? I do. If Jesus had glorified his listeners and told them they were God’s exclusive and very privileged people, they would have perhaps “purred” like a cat that got the cream! A speaker, including Jesus, does not get bouquets or appreciation when speaking the truth. Besides setting us free, the truth can hurt. Calling a spade, a spade does not rank highly in diplomatic terms.
Once many years ago when holding a position that demanded a lot of travel, I had a ‘Gold’ credit card. I blush now when I think of those days! There are no gold or other privileged cards in God’s sight. The revealed truth is that are all equal shareholders of God’s love. It does not matter what title we hold, ‘Eminence’, ‘Your Grace’; ‘Reverend Father or Mother’. It does not matter where we come from – people wondered if anything good could come out of Nazareth. The status of socio-economic rating is not on God’s checklist except insofar as to how I share and care. In a word, what matters is that God loves each of us in an unconditional way. What a truth!
Saint Paul faced a tough time with his Corinth congregation as did Jesus with his. Paul’s listeners were often at loggerheads with each other. There were all sorts of splits and factions. Some didn’t talk to others. Some would never forgive each other. Some judged ‘the book by the cover’. This was applied to religious and spiritual matters as well. This I find is so easy to do and difficult to stop.
Paul then took a gamble. He dedicated a most magnificent piece of writing on LOVE to them. This is our second Reading at Mass today. There is scarcely a wedding that does not have a look at this reading as a possibility.
The hymn to love is nothing short of superb. One way that I like to benefit from this reading is to substitute my own name for wherever ‘love’ appears. I begin to blush when I say, ‘Aidan is patient and kind; Aidan is never jealous or boastful; never rude or selfish; doesn’t take offence and not resentful.’ I’ll stop there – it’s too embarrassing.