The theme of compassion echoes throughout today’s readings. Jeremiah is announcing the return of the exiles and the restoration of Israel which shows us the close relationship God has with the people. The distress of the people has touched the heart of God and God reaches out in compassion to alleviate it. Jeremiah urges us to shout with joy and praise for God is here to console and guide us.
However, fulfillment of the prophecy reaches beyond the purely historical. What Jeremiah announces, Jesus fulfills in the Gospel. The spirit of the prophetic announcement as well as the messianic fulfillment lies in humble compassion, the qualifying characteristic of the true high priest in the second reading which comes to life in Jesus’ encounter with the blind beggar.
“Take heart, get up, Jesus is calling you.” How do these words spoken to the blind beggar resonate with you after spending these past two days together in contemplative dialogue? We have probed what it means to be mystics on the move and a prophetic people. Now we go forth from this place as living witnesses to what we have experienced here.
Notice that the blind beggar was sitting by the roadside – on the sidelines or perhaps in the gutter where everything that is not wanted in the road ends up. He represents the marginalized and he was waiting. I like to think that this place by the roadside provided the blind beggar with the opportunity for contemplation as he nurtured his hope of seeing again. When he heard the confusion, he realized that the moment for which he had been waiting had arrived. Jesus was passing his road and he was ready to enter more deeply into the heart of Jesus.
However, the crowd was stern and scolded him telling him to keep quiet. But he shouted all the louder. With passion in his heart, he could not keep quiet. What is the passion in your heart that will not let you keep quiet?
In our time together these two days, we have endorsed breaking the cycle of poverty and violence, especially as it affects women and immigrants through education, advocacy and collaboration. The ribbons on the banner state our commitment to embracing eco-feminist spiritualities as we stand in wonder and awe seeking to see all things in God and God in all things.
As Jesus heard the blind beggar shouting, He stood still, entering into the contemplative moment and said, “Call him here.” Jesus then asks what he wants. Reluctantly the circle opened up and the people acknowledged that Jesus was calling the blind beggar. How will we open our circle? Move out of our comfort? Be willing to move, to form new communities in response to the call to be prophetic. Where will we go that others either cannot or will not go? If Catherine and Emerentiana were here what would their prophetic voices cry out?
Jesus then asked the beggar, “What do you want me to do for you?” The beggar replied, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus then acts out of compassion. Kindliness and respect surround the healing of the blind Bartimeaus. What do we want Jesus to help us see again or perhaps for the first time? To see suddenly like the beggar did must have been a terrific experience. As we enter into deeper contemplation, what will we suddenly see that unsettles us and causes us to change? After healing the blind beggar, Jesus tells him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Bartimaeus was a mystic on the move – both when as he sat by the wayside and as he followed Jesus sharing what happened in his encounter.
Will we have the courage to speak and act for justice as we seek to bring God’s voice to our world and Church? How will be enter into contemplative dialogue in our response to the Apostolic Visitation as we share our lived experience of what we have written in our Constitutions? How will we continue to come together and share our faith and our prophetic voice? Or will we go home to life as usual?
I find myself challenged by our time together to be more open to God working in me and in the members of the Province as the prophetic voices arise among us. I want to enter into contemplative stillness into the heart of God leading me into contemplative living. I want to move out of my own comfort zone and to be a greater risk taker. I want to be like the sand crab digging away at whatever may be keeping me from being open. I want to live in gratitude as Jesus passes my way asking, “What do you want me to do for you?”
It is my hope that each of us individually and as a Province will be different because of what we have experienced together this weekend. The mystic on the move on our beautiful banner is carrying a sack. The poet Rumi invites to “… fill our sacks with the sacred.” What is in your sack as you leave this place?
Judy Raley, SCN
Liturgy for Province Gathering
October 24, 2009