"Our sin is usually where you and I are comfortable, where we do not feel the need to bother, where like the Pharisee we have found complacency. It is at that point of self-satisfaction that like the Pharisee or the rich man we usually do not bother to love.”
As you begin your prayer today, remember that you are in God’s holy presence. Become aware of how God gazes on you all the time, how tenderly and powerfully God regards you. Ask God for what you want in prayer:
Ask God to recognize and know the Lord Jesus as your mentor for a life of love and service.
Fr. Gerard Clarke, S.J.
Kigali, 10 November 2010 – One Sunday afternoon a Jesuit companion and I went down to the beach to explore. We were working in a squatters’ settlement called Navotas in the Philippines where a million migrants are squashed into makeshift huts on the seashore. Conditions there are very poor. People illegally connect a forest of wires to the electricity supply cables and run freezers to make ice. And they dynamite the coral reefs to catch fish for sale, destroying the reefs in the process.
When we reached the beach the first shock was the stink of human excrement strewn over the pebbles: the beach is the bathroom! Next came the sight of kids playing in the polluted waters of the bay: plastic bags, oil slick and human waste. And the last straw for me was the sight of people living in the opened graves of the seaside cemetery. I was utterly disgusted by the place. My companion pointed out a little family squatting around a cooking fire. The “Holy Family” he said with a smile. “Imagine the Incarnation here.” I reacted immediately: “Absolutely not! Jesus would have never tolerated living here. Besides, he wouldn’t even have reached the age of eight.”
And then it hit me and my companion gave me one of those long “now-you-get-it” looks . . . this is exactly where God chose to send His Son! Not where plenty of space, education and healthcare would guarantee his future, but where crime, lack of hygiene and opportunities could risk it. “Yes, yes. This is where God wants to be. This is where He sends His Son. This is where He is going to play and these are the kids who will be His friends.”
This exercise is about God and who God is. God is for everyone and Jesus came for everyone, even those whom we find difficult to tolerate because of their poverty or their moral turpitude. In this episode I was caught out in my prejudice. A friend reminded me about God’s enormous care for us and His desire to be among us, even among the really poor. I’m hoping this story might encourage us to drop prejudices about who God is and who God loves.
God’s eye is very different than the human eye. God sees all and loves all. In the Incarnation and Jesus God shows us this. God bothers to love and God wants to be among the people where you and I feel least comfortable. Can we grasp that?
Address God as a friend speaks to a friend.
Talk to God about your response, your own needs and your deepest desires.
End your prayer with the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us.
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.
"Our sin is usually not in what we did, not in what we could not avoid, not in what we tried not to do. Our sin is usually where you and I are comfortable, where we do not feel the need to bother, where like the Pharisee we have found complacency. It is at that point of self-satisfaction that like the Pharisee or the rich man we usually do not bother to love." James Keenan, S.J.