2 Tm 3:14-4:2
Who is at the Door?
In the gospel reading on October 21st, Jesus talks to us about the widow who pesters the judge until he renders a just decision. The judge gets tired of the widow’s constant demand for a decision that is honest and fair. In the first reading from Exodus, we hear the story about Moses’ family and friends holding up his arms when he is tired, so that the Israelites will win the battles. Both readings stirred memories in me.
When I was a child we would pray every night before we went to bed. One of my parents would come into the bedroom with my sister and me to pray. We would kneel down at the bedside and our litany of prayers for the important people in our lives would commence. We also got to tuck a couple of prayers in for ourselves for forgiveness for what we did wrong that day, gratitude for the day protection by our guardian angels and a request for night watch as we gave ourselves to dreaming.
Finally after covering the big and small pictures of our world we would ask Mary, the mother of Jesus, to be with us. Those prayers are still a part of my cells and bring me a sense of connection to a God who was and still is bigger than my imagination.
The other thought that has seeped itself into my daily imaginings is an image of the people who sit near me in church. I think like many places people land in the same spot, unless of course, someone not familiar with the terrain sits in “my/our spot.” I wondered what it would take for me to receive their gift of holding up my “figurative arms” in prayer.
I remember telling some church friends about being laid off and watched them divert their eyes. I certainly couldn’t or wouldn’t ask them to hold my arms in prayer for this inner battle of shame I was going through. There were some people in my life that seemed comfortable with praying for me the first couple of weeks that I was unemployed…but then that same awkwardness seems to appear. How was Moses able to both get and accept others’ support?
In essence everything about our lives are shared on a spiritual and village level, no different than the battle being fought on the behalf of the Israelites. What kinds of prayers make room for actions that invite us beyond our awkwardness to hold up the arms of each other?
In my favorite childhood prayer, “Infant Jesus, bless me, keep me close to you, I want to love you Jesus in everything I do,” the foundation is there for holding the hands and arms of each other as a way of “loving Jesus in everything we do.” It is a prayer that demands steadfastness, like the widow who does not cease asking the judge to hear her request. It is a prayer that sees the power of staying closely connected to Christ in order that we might be able to hold up the arms of each other.
Where is it in our lives that we close the door of those who call us to respond justly to the needs of other? Perhaps like in the reading from October 14th it is the man at the side of the road or the person with leprosy. Who are the people in our lives who are already there, holding up our arms be it emotionally or spiritually? Who are we willing to open our door to, like the judge, that we can be transformed by the power of justice and love?