Ordinary 17
Ordinary 17
by Lanie LeBlanc OP

The readings for this Sunday tell of the bountiful Providence of the Lord and encourage us to live in unity with one another. For me, these readings are more like an exfoliating cream than a balm for my aching soul, one which is wrestling with promise vs. reality and vision vs. eyesight. The struggle is in full swing!

In the first reading from the Second Book of Kings, Elisha's servant gives a meager amount food to a hundred people, but the food keeps on coming until all are fed and there are leftovers, too, as the Lord said there would be. In the passage from the Gospel according to John, five thousand men (plus the women and children, I imagine) are fed from a boy's five loaves and two fish and again, there are leftovers. The ways of the Lord often take us pleasantly by surprise... we usually really like those stories. They tell us of the care we need to feel in order to balance the not-so-pleasant stories we also know from today's world.

If we look around us, we literally see many homeless people who are hungry most days and hear of others in more faraway lands who starve. Reconciling those haunting images with the images of our own plenty is troublesome. Where is the Lord's distribution center and where are we? Most, if not all of us, help these less fortunate people financially whenever possible, but the lack of enough food remains. I wrestle with that fact against the fact that the Eucharist feeds us all the time and thus we do things with positive repercussions beyond ourselves. Right now, my wrestling is taking a break as I ponder how the work of the Lord is hidden, undetected, and often not even noticed in my own life and in the lives of many others.

My struggle continues after reading of the selection from Ephesians about unity. Living "in a manner worthy of the call you have received" seems like such a far-off goal these days whether I apply it to a glimpse of family life, tensions within a parish or community, the political scene, or just too much world strife. Advocating "humility and gentleness, with patience,... and love... through the bond of peace" is easy to agree to seeking, but attaining it requires mutual effort. Just how many times must one person say "Let's talk about it" before those in opposition will even discuss the difficulties ! ? For me, the only answer here is constant prayer, still wrestling with what strategy is best, when. The wrestling is tiring!

I often have to remind myself that the reality of the present, the what I see and feel each day, does not match the promise and vision of the Lord. I may stomp around a bit, or a lot on some occasions, but my own choice, ultimately, is to surrender to the Lord's view. It is the only thing that allows me to live in "the one hope of your (my) call". I have to believe that the winner of the wrestling match is the "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." I have to believe that, somehow, God is in the midst of all these struggles, mine and yours, each individual's and the world's. Perhaps a "prisoner of the Lord" has many meanings since I am bound to the Lord by love. Perhaps I need to withdraw to the mountains alone again, too.

(Comments to Lanie at lanieleblanc@mindspring.com.)