August 29, 2016 – Reflection for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In Every Age, Emmanuel– God-With-Us
This week’s psalm refrain reminds us to keep hope alive and not give up when crosses seem too much to bear. “In every age, O God, you have been our refuge.” (Ps. 90) In every age of Jewish history, with all its trauma, infidelities, and triumphs, God was their refuge. Throughout the ages of the Church, checkered with periods of light and dark, God remains our refuge. In our individual lives, from infancy to old age, if we seek God in all our life’s experiences, carrying the crosses of circumstance and even of ourselves (both burdensome and beautiful) God is our refuge, is here with us, even when we doubt it.
It is still August as I reflect on these readings, and very recent events occupy my thoughts: the Pax Christi USA conference, connecting with people striving to be peacemakers; floods ravaging Louisiana towns; Milwaukee exploding in violence where needs have been ignored; an Imam shot to death on a New York street after leaving a mosque; young Olympians using their talents, strength, and hard work to compete for medals for their home countries and perhaps make new friends from other countries; a major earthquake destroying lives and towns in central Italy. So much life and death, exuberance and grief, humanity and hate, on this planet in two short days. Before September 4th there will be more stories of suffering, of tragedies. We seek refuge in God, yes, but not refuge that merely comforts us and turns us away from the world’s pain.
Carry your cross, Jesus says in Luke’s gospel, and unite it with the suffering of others, not only people close to you but those whose stories appear in the daily news. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart,” prays the psalmist. In the wisdom of his old age, Paul pleads on behalf of Onesimus, a slave imprisoned with Paul who has become Paul’s “own heart.” The refuge offered by God comforts, strengthens, enlightens, assures, gives courage to carry the day’s crosses. And on Labor Day, let’s remember especially all underpaid workers and those seeking employment.
Suggested action: Identify individuals and communities in need of God’s refuge; pray for them.
Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy and Member Relations
With gratitude let us pray for the ways and times God has been our refuge, we pray…
With renewed commitment, let us shoulder our daily crosses, we pray…
Prayer: St. Augustine of Hippo
Lord, our God, we are in the shadow of your wings.
Protect us and bear us up.
You will care for us as if we were little children, even to our old age.
When you are our strength, we are strong;
but when we are our own strength, we are weak.
Our good always lives in your presence,
and we suffer when we turn our faces away from you.
We now return to you, O Lord,
that we may never turn away again.