Mary Beth Buchner, a Maryknoll Affiliate from the Albany Chapter, reflects on the importance of supporting each other as the Body of Christ.
Back in February, when the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns invited me to write a Scripture reflection, I hesitated. I was scared but I felt honored to be asked so I really didn’t want to turn down this opportunity. When it was finally time to write the reflection, I read the readings over a few times to myself and found my fear level rising. I still wasn’t gaining clarity.
I sent an SOS email requesting help to my cousin, Noel, who is part of the Goshen Maryknoll Affiliates group, which meets weekly to discuss Scripture readings over Zoom. I have been joining them since the beginning of the pandemic. I was relieved when they agreed to focus on the readings for this week, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, even though it was out of sequence. The discussion was most fruitful and my anxiety lessened a little. Then I prayed to the Holy Spirit to enlighten me. Many thoughts surfaced and woke me up in the middle of the night.
Our parish’s Sacramental Minister, Father Tony, offered a homily at the Mass for the Feast of the Assumption that contained messages that seemed to relate to my assigned readings. I found I was acquiring inspiration from multiple sources and I started to realize quite clearly that I was not alone. I was getting support from the Body of Christ here on earth and from the Communion of Saints both here and in heaven. Wow, I thought, this is part of the message. We are not alone and not meant to be alone.
As it says in the second reading, “Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” What I thought I couldn’t do by myself was possible when I opened my heart and my mind to the Divine in the people around me: “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God” (Mark 10: 17-30). Only when we give up the control and surrender to the Divine in ourselves and in others can we allow God to permeate our being.
Then, surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, a little Blog entry I posted a year ago popped up on my iPhone. It was a simple piece I wrote after being asked to carry the Cross up the aisle before Mass. Typically it was a male member of the congregation who was given this responsibility and I had been truly delighted and honored to be asked. I felt a similar feeling while reading from the Book of Wisdom (7:7-11) for today’s first reading. It brings me great joy to see the feminine aspects of the Divine portrayed so beautifully. I love seeing the pronoun “her” used over and over again (actually 10 times in this short reading). Having grown up in a Church that has sorely neglected its female members, I felt a sense of happiness while reciting this reading out loud.
The Gospel reading for this week describes Jesus as saying, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.“ When we discussed this reading in our little Goshen Zoom group, we realized that the “many possessions” and the “wealth” that is described in the Scriptures included other things besides money and material items. After reflecting on this idea I have to agree that oftentimes money and possessions are a lot easier to give away than things like time, attention, energy, kindheartedness, and consideration.
I also reflected on the passage that says, Jesus, “looking at [the rich man], loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing…” I love the idea that Jesus loved the man in this story even though he wasn’t perfect and struggled to sell what he had and give to the poor. What a comfort to hear that Jesus continues to love us even when we fall short.