I have been thinking quite a bit about church community lately. Interestingly enough, my friend and I watched a movie called, Doubt last night with an all-star cast. We were channel surfing at the end of our long day and had missed the beginning. The film is definitely disturbing. I also had the opportunity to read a book by Wilma Derksen entitled Echo of the Soul which also deals with church community and leadership gone astray. in the movie, it is the principal who has misused her power while in the book it is the minister – the leader of the church. Today’s Gospel reading from Luke reminds us that places of honour are not chosen by the guests. Humility is needed by those who are in positions of power.
In today’s first reading from Sirach 3 the writer reminds us to perform our tasks with humility so that we will be loved by those whom God accepts. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favour in the sight of the Lord it says there. It also says that when calamity befalls someone proud, no healing occurs because an evil plant has taken root in them. Both the film and the book address this particular issue, especially the book where the minister of the community is too proud to acknowledge his own brokenness and how he has wounded other people in the village. Having missed the beginning of the film, I’m not sure what the principles story was, but she too broke the person that did not deserve to be broken.
The priest in the film gives a homily about gossip being like feathers scattered in the wind. Once the feathers have been released, the one who has spread them cannot ever pick them all up again. Our words, our judgments, and our actions impact people in ways that we cannot control. At various points in my life, I have held positions of power. I know that I have hurt people and for that I am sorry. All I can hope is that they will forgive me. On the flipside, I have been hurt by those in power and all that I can do is to extend mercy and forgive them.
The second reading from Hebrews 12 reminds us that we come to the holy city of Jerusalem were innumerable angels await us in festal gathering where God is the judge of all and the spirits of the righteous are made perfect. Here as in the Gospel reading we will see who receives the places of honour at the table at the banquet. Some of us may be moved up and some of us may be given the lowest place in disgrace. What we need to do is remain humble in nature and keep our eyes fixed on God. One day we will come to that Holy Table and I pray that each one of us may be ushered in to a place of honour. Let us be angels to one another now and practice taking ourselves lightly.
What do you do with the power given to you?
Do you understand the complete impact of gossip?
Innumerable angels await us at the festal gathering. Make our hearts ready now, Creator God, so that when we arrive we can celebrate together. Let us not rush to the seats of honour here, but humble ourselves in service to those in need. Amen.