September 2015 Reflection
“God is most completely revealed to us where we would least expect it. Rather than affirming values held as essential by society or revealing the divine presence at the center of public interest, God appears on the fringes, in situations and actions beyond the pale of established values and ideals. God appears among the detritus of society, that which has been rejected and cast off. What this means is that God can best be comprehended among the broken and rejected rather than among the powerful and respected. God’s dwelling place is not in some sanctuary cut off from the strident cries of those who are broken and call out for justice and mercy.” –Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S. In Water and In Blood: A Spirituality of Solidarity and Hope, pg. 67
I can occasionally be a snob. I’m not sure if this is a product of my fairly sheltered suburban upbringing, my all-boys prep school, the constant barrage of marketing from my alma mater about how smart we were for going to school where we did, or if this is just part of who I am. I fight against my pretentiousness, but sometimes the struggle does not go well. When it does come out it’s an ugly look for me!
One of the ways my snobbishness comes out is who I listen to. I have a tendency to listen more intently to people with a title. Reverend, Doctor, and Professor are all titles usually indicating the level of education and perseverance a person has committed to. It is wise (and usually prudent) to put faith into people who have dedicated their lives to studying certain subjects or have put the time and effort into understanding the world around us. However, I will every so often not listen to someone for some reason or another.
I do take solace in knowing I’m not the only person who does this! Sometimes we completely ignore or push away what people are saying because of their gender, their race, their ethnicity, the way they dress, the way they talk, their economic situation, their political positions, or where they come from. In the readings from Numbers and the Gospel of Mark there are people in places of authority who question the call of others. Joshua is Moses right hand man and John is a close disciple of Jesus. In both cases they are corrected. Moses even says it would be good for all of God’s people to be prophets!
Precious Blood spirituality calls us out to the margins. We are called out to the edges, not just simply to serve, but also to listen. Our listening will give us a better chance to hear the wisdom and truth of God’s voice, wherever it comes out. God’s voice calls out not just in a circle of disciples, not just in a gathering of elders, not just among the wealthy, the well educated, the connected, the ordained, but also in places we don’t expect to hear it. Even more troubling is when it comes from places (or mouths) we don’t want to listen to. Those people are usually among the “broken and rejected.”
Pope Francis used the example of Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day in his recent address to Congress. Both of these people were prophets calling those around them to better follow Jesus Christ. Day was told by the Cardinal Archbishop of New York not to use the name “Catholic” with the Catholic Worker movement and Merton was silenced by his religious superiors. Both of them heard God’s call in unusual places and were called to a more radical way of living because of their intent listening. May we be that open to God’s call and to the prophetic voices of people in surprising places.
Questions for Reflection
- Who are some of the people you have tried to silence in your own life who have provided some sort of wisdom for you?
- Where are some unexpected places you have heard God’s wisdom and truth?
- Describe times when you have had someone from an unexpected place be a voice of the divine.
- Who are people (or groups) our community, society, church, and world refuses to listen to because of who they are? What are some ways to better listen to God’s voice calling through them?