When it’s dangerous to listen

I try to be generous. I try to side with the powerless. I try not to clutch the things I possess. I try to possess few things.

But I have a car, and an apartment (though I want a condo), and a soda maker, and even though I go to City Hospital out of solidarity I have the option of going to a fancier hospital if I want to.

I worry about money sometimes, which is normal. I feel like I don’t have enough, and there’s no way of knowing because enough is a meaningless word. Enough for what?

When the readings tell me, as they did this past Sunday, that God hears the poor and is close the brokenhearted, that the wrong kind of self-satisfaction is displeasing to God, I worry.

Most of our Scripture was written from a position of powerlessness, by an impoverished, oppressed people. They also happened to by God’s chosen people. When I sang “the Lord hears the cry of the poor” this weekend I almost wept for shame in front of everyone.

I have been agonizing over how to scrape together enough money to buy one of the overpriced condos in my neighborhood. I have focused a lot of my energy on feeling aggrieved because I can’t afford what I want and feeling panicked that my ample income won’t support even more comfort. I do not want to give up what I have. Realistically, I won’t.

The Pharisee and the Publican1Neither, though, do I want to to feel any better about my affluence. I can’t practice discipleship only when it leads to glory – then I’m as bad as the Pharisee. The glory comes on the other side of the cross, the other side of powerlessness. When I choose to sidestep powerlessness I should be honest with myself that I am making that choice.

There is no expectation of resolution. I don’t want to find the right exegete who will tell me “what Jesus actually meant was…” and thereby exonerate me from my affluence. Even when I was shaken at mass, wondering if my position of power distanced me from God, but doubting I could ever relinquish that power, I felt better for having acknowledged the question. I felt better for having sat in the tension.

I felt better because I know that listening is dangerous, that often times God’s voice through Scripture and prayer will make me feel uncomfortable. The Good News often “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” If these questions make me uneasy, it is a sign I’m asking the right ones.

What messages from God make you uneasy?

This entry was posted in lectionary, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to When it’s dangerous to listen

  1. Kevin Nolan says:

    You continue to open my mind to the many riches of our Christian (Catholic) tradition. Someone like you should be giving the homily at some of our parishes. (Maybe you could act as a consultant or homily writer). You definitely have a gift, sister.

  2. Pete "BaltoPreacher" says:

    This is my story yet from the other side. Living paycheck to paycheck and never really being able to make it to the next one, My wife can’t work due to a medical condition. My full time job leaves me to tired to go and work part time. So I pray constantly for God’s help and direction. To accept the way things are and to see the lesson in all of this.
    Really enjoy your blog. Thanks!

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