Coming Together in Our Weaknesses — By Fr. Rich, OP

FrRichWebThroughout salvation history, God’s presence in the lives of broken humanity showed us that God did indeed have a plan for the restoration of the relationship between Himself and His creatures. Most of the major characters that we revere, whose interactions we study and contemplate, were rascals to a greater or lesser degree.

And today, the reading from 1 Samuel contains this, “But the LORD said to Samuel… Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” In this passage we have the anointing of David as king of the Jewish people. To say that David’s relationship with Yahweh was complicated and a roller coaster might be considered an understatement. But I think the strength of the relationship can be found in the closing verse of the passage: “Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.”

The spirit of the Lord rushed upon David — that is the keystone to every relationship that formed our relationship with God and that of the saints and sinners of salvation history and beyond.

The complex story of the man born blind offers yet another example of how the spirit of the Lord works in cultures and circumstances that are grounded in shortsightedness and prejudice. As the man who is healed works his way back and forth between Jesus and the Pharisees, he is guided by a growing understanding of who this Jesus is, the power that He possesses, and the new life that He offers.

In the Jewish testament we see Jesus working with the broken prophets, prophetesses, and the rulers or judges of the Chosen People. In the Christian testament we recall Jesus working out His mission amongst the sick, the hungry, the prejudiced or blind. In both of these testaments, God worked with and through the wounded, healing them, lifting them up, showing them that a compassionate and loving culture is one that gathers and supports, heals and loves those wounded.

Earlier last week, a parishioner shared a reflection from the Henri Nouwen website (http://henrinouwen.org). I think that his thoughts help to drive home my point about how we, following in God’s plan and Jesus’ example can be part of a loving, strong, unprejudiced and welcoming community.

“Some of us tend to do away with things that are slightly damaged. Instead of repairing them we say: ‘Well, I don’t have time to fix it, I might as well throw it in the garbage can and buy a new one.’ Often we also treat people this way. We say: ‘Well, he has a problem with drinking; well, she is quite depressed; well, they have mismanaged their business… we’d better not take the risk of working with them.’ When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not. The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak.” — Henri Nouwen

I would echo the closing thought: if we are going to strive to be a strong community of faith, we must come together in our weaknesses.