Stories for the Right Column of the Columns Page
One thing we inevitably hear in the wake of great global tragedies and catastrophes is a lot of people telling the survivors that "our thoughts and prayers are with you." Lately, there's been another inevitable response: A chorus of people rejecting this, saying it isn't good enough. We need action, too, and, sometimes, people will even indignantly add: "Stop praying. God isn't doing anything." This may sound shocking and blasphemous to our ears, but we have to honestly consider the place where a retort like this could come from.
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"You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" We all need a certain predictability to avoid major pitfalls in life. Still it is wise not to overdo the planning. Several people I know spare no effort to ensure they are in complete control of their lives. They live with pen and notebook in hand (or a laptop), and carefully plan their savings, investments and expenses. Everything they own is insured.
In this week's Gospel, the words of Jesus to his disciples should encourage us all: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." We all have fears. Fear of death. Fear of being destitute. Fear of not being loved. Conscious fears and unconscious fears. I remember as a small child checking to make sure no monsters were hiding in my closet. I was afraid some unnamed fear was going to sneak up on me when I was alone.
One year ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its 500-page final report on Indian residential schools: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Most importantly, the TRC issued 94 calls to action. Several of these recommendations should directly impact the ways people of faith live out our covenantal relationship with the indigenous people of this land.
I've always been able to relate to Martha, the busy responsible sister. The story of Jesus' rebuke to her, in support of Mary who abdicates her responsibility to do her share in caring for guests, has long felt unfair to me. Yet at the same time I have great admiration for a friend of mine who has the capacity to be truly present to the people she is with, whether they are friends or strangers, even when that results in neglecting the job at hand.