Finding Goodness and Resilience
(January 26, 2022)
“Resilience is born by grounding yourself in your own loveliness, hitting notes you thought were way out of your range.” Father Greg Boyle
Probably the one thing that is in short supply for us these days is our confidence in our own resiliency. We are beset by a growing fatigue; so very little of what life is today resembles what was familiar to us for most of our lives, whether it’s simply going to the supermarket or even attending church. Between the fear of more than one COVID strain, our own insecurity at what’s happening next in terms of politics, or the way that people have become confrontational on so many issues -- even among our own family members -- it’s draining.
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Daily life finds us feeling a little short on our supply of resilience. Ironically, even the ranks of clergy are witnessing a “great resignation,” when pastors become bent and broken under the weight of everyone’s needs piled on top of their own, and they have exited their professions permanently.
Jesus Takes a Risk
Surely, we might think, Jesus never went through anything like this in his ministry. After all, didn’t all the people always love Jesus and accept his teaching? The answer to that is a resounding “No.”
The Gospel this Sunday shows Jesus just after he has preached in the synagogue in his hometown, Nazareth. People listening to him are the very people he grew up with, when they knew him as the carpenter’s son. While Jesus was a rising star with his own mystique all around Galilee’s towns, in Nazareth there was no mystique. He was known so well as a local like themselves that people didn’t take him seriously.
At the same time Jesus knew the Nazareth congregation so well that he understood that they, undeservedly, thought that God favored them above anyone who was not a Jew, and especially above “outsider” tribes of people. So, Jesus told them the truth. Jesus told them: Not only did God show love to people other than Nazarenes; God’s prophets actually chose to help an outsider widow and a leper instead of the Chosen People, because they were people in greater need.
Telling the Truth Is Risky
Of course, we all know that truth telling isn’t the most popular thing to do when people treasure their superiority over others, when they spend their lives erecting barriers to keep others out, defining others as “less than” themselves. The hometown crowd was so enraged, they tried to run Jesus off a cliff. Father Greg Boyle, who has devoted his life to working with gangs and gang members, knows the wideness of God’s love extends even to the people we reject. As he says, “How much greater is the God we have than the one we think we have.”
Find the Goodness and Find Your Resilience
In this era of anger and violence and fear, how do we restore OUR resilience in order to survive these times of confrontation? Father Greg says we have to start by finding and reclaiming our own goodness, so that we can recognize goodness in even the most lost among us. You DO have a light that shines in you.
This Sunday we’ll find that light and realize that this light is the key to navigating through the hearts of those who confront us, even the most despondent.