What kind of society have we become? What kind of people have we turned into? How can someone run over a human being lying ill on the road and drive away, even while others cross the other side of this Jericho road, either afraid to help, or unwilling to become involved? Surely these questions must now trouble our collective consciousness as we witness a level of barbarity, incivility and intolerance previously unknown in our country.
In a society where words have become weapons, social media a pliant tool in the hands of the politically idle, where those alleged to be leaders of criminal empires are adorned with more US currency than many of us are afforded by the banks and given 21-gun salutes at their funerals, Jesus stands knocking, waiting to be let in, waiting to be afforded pride of place again, waiting to reclaim this piece of rock named after Himself.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us to be neither fearful nor anxious about our present lives and future security. Instead He asks us to trust that what He has given to us will be sufficient to not only see us through, but if we manage it wisely, our reward will be great in Heaven. But who amongst us is not fearful and anxious? Who amongst us is not weary of the promises made by those in whom we have repeatedly reposed our electoral trust?
The truth is though, that when we lock ourselves inside, when we barricade the doors of our hearts, locking out trust in God and hope in His Word, denying entry to love and inclusion, to forgiveness and mercy, to compassion and empathy, we drown out the sound of Jesus knocking on the door. We deny ourselves the wonderful opportunity of an encounter with the bridegroom.
If we are to bring to life Pope Francis’ vision of this Church of ours “as a field hospital after battle”, and heed his prescription that “the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful”, we cannot do so behind closed doors: “it needs nearness and proximity”. Indeed, the Church must leave the building. There is a “ministry of presence” that is needed today which cannot be fulfilled behind locked doors.
In the same way we have opened our hearts and doors to our dispossessed and distressed neighbours from across the region, so too we must display similar charity to those in our homes, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our respective communities, and even in our churches, who are left standing outside waiting for someone to welcome them, for in them too, we will see the face of God.
The 40-day Rosary for Life initiative of the Emmanuel Community is as good a place as any to cement the combination of prayer and good works for which our Church is famous. In the words of Archbishop Gordon “There is violence against life in our land. There is bloodlust. We will not solve this with technical solutions. This is a spiritual problem at its core.” And as Luke’s gospel reminds us today, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”