Scripture Reflections – Sunday, November 20th

Ez 34:11-12, 15-17; 1Cor 15; 20-26, 28; Mt 25: 31-46

Feast of Christ the King

One morning when I was probably a junior in high school I was waiting at the bus stop across the street from my house as I usually did.  On this particular morning there was a boy I had never seen before waiting there also, carrying a school bag  that was about the same size as he was.  This was not hard to do as he was unusually small for a high schooler.

I say “probably” because I never spoke to him.  Partly because I was shy, but also because  I suddenly felt this overwhelming urge to protect him.   He seemed so small, and with his glasses and pillsbury dough boy appearance, such easy prey for whatever bully he might run into that day.   This feeling really freaked me out – after all, I didn’t even know him and when you are  a 17 year old boy, overwhelmng emotional feelings of any kind are really not particularly welcome.

It wasn’t until some time later that identified the feeling as Compassion.  And years after that before I gradually began to realize that a large part of the reason I became a teacher – and the prayer I say almost everyday as a parent – is grounded in this desire to lend my strength to those who are weaker than I am.   To do in my life what I couldn’t do  that day.

I hope I have been faithful to this particular aspect of my vocation more times than not.  But I know that there have also been too many “nots”.   I’m finding myself drawn to prayer and reflection today, in light of the awful sex abuse scandal being uncovered at Penn State….which inevitably stirs up all the sadness and anger within me again bourne from the sex abuse scandal in the Church.

It’s interesting, don’t you think, that the conclusion of this week’s gospel contains these words:  “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

How have you been doing lately in your care for the “least ones” that  God sends along the path of your life?  I invite you to join me in prayer today . First, to offer thanksgiving to God for the grace that has made us able to  empower, protect and cherish the “least ones” whose lives we have touched for the better.  Second, to ask for forgiveness for those times we have allowed the “least ones” to fall prey to evil because of our fear, or ignorance, or prejudices, or greed, or refusal to love our sister our brother as we ough to do.  Finally, to pray for all of the victims of sexual abuse, particularly the children, that they may be led to healing and peace.

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(One of the charities I have long supported in its commitment to the “least ones” is Covenant House.  As a part of your prayer today I would encourage to to offer prayer and perhaps some financial support to this charity or to another worthy organization doing similar work.)

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