Thoughts on the First Readings – Joe Frankenfield
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
People who study moral behavior note that the ability to place oneself in another’s shoes is crucial to making moral decisions. Jesus taught that we should love others as we love ourselves. To do that we have to be able to imagine our neighbor’s situation as well as imagine how we would want to be treated in the same situation. Some people’s imagination just can’t stretch that far. They are dangerous because they unknowingly cause others pain.
The more common problem, however, is our unwillingness to place ourselves in another’s shoes. We don’t want to see another’s point of view because we might have to adjust our own. We don’t want to know the pressure or stress they live under because we may find ourselves becoming sympathetic to them. We don’t want to know the weaknesses others struggle with since we may find that it makes more sense for us to adapt to them than for them to adapt to us. We don’t want to know their hearts because we might find ourselves wanting to forgive them. The Christian Way can be very demanding.
Catholic Tradition has always put a lot of emphasis on praying in a group. It is not always the most emotionally satisfying way to pray. It is not always the most intellectually profound way to pray. But it is the way of praying that places us in the proximity of others in a way that forcefully reminds us of our common humanity and our common faith and dreams. Praying together puts us in a great place to imagine the lives of others, to imagine how they must see things, how they must feel about things, how they must fear and dream.
When we watch people lining up to receive Communion, it is easy to imagine important things about their lives. It’s easy because we see them seeking the same promise from God that we seek. There have been times when I didn’t want to go to Mass because I was mad about this or that and I knew that I’d have a hard time staying mad at the person I was upset with if I went. We all seem so much in the same boat when we’re at Mass – with one another and with God. That’s exactly how it should be.
It starts there and spreads to the world.