Friday, June 25, 2010
“Jesus said, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” (Luke 10:2)
“SOUL-SURFING” – July 4, 2010
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
“[Are you] worried about leaving your house empty while you go on vacation? Japan has the answer: a house-sitter robot armed with a digital camera, infrared sensors and a videophone. Stores across Japan started taking orders for the Roborior — a watermelon-sized eyeball on wheels that glows purple, blue and orange. Roborior can function as interior decor, but also as a virtual guard dog that can sense break-ins using infrared sensors, notify homeowners by calling their cellular phones, and send the owner's cell phone videos from its digital camera.” (Associated Press, August 23, 2005)
Guarding our homes from intrusion – it’s a legitimate concern for every one of us. And while this clever Japanese invention may certainly provide some peace of mind for anxious homeowners, it also serves as metaphor for the anxious global human community as it seeks to safeguard the home common to us all, that is, the earth. We need ask ourselves the proverbial question: Who’s minding the store? That is, how are we protecting our primal home from threats that reach far beyond boundaries of nation, culture and religion? Who’s minding the store as nations collide, cultures clash and religions bash? In a recent New York Times article entitled
“Many Faiths, One Truth,” Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, addresses the question. He writes:
“When I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today. Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.
“Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.
“Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.
“An early eye-opener for me was my meeting with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton in India shortly before his untimely death in 1968. Merton told me he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism. The same is true for me as an ardent Buddhist learning from the world’s other great religions.
“A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.
“Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one. Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.” (New York Times, May 24, 2010)
Yes, finding common ground among those of differing faiths, cultures and nationalities is an imperative. And, as the Dalai Lama asserts, compassion is that common ground, best exemplified in the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Imagine what this earth would be like were this everyone’s guiding principle!
In the gospel passage we hear today, Jesus sends out 72 disciples with the instruction to bear compassion and healing to those broken in body, mind or soul. Aware, though, of both the challenge of the task and the innate self-interest of humanity, Jesus laments, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) Indeed, Jesus asserts, the world is full of need, but few are those willing to put aside self-interest to serve those needs. Just as it was a problem in Jesus’ time, even more so is it in ours. Not surprisingly, human nature hasn’t changed much at all!
So, do we just throw up our hands with that lamest of excuses: We’re sinful people! What can you expect? Some, perhaps, have settled for this, but our Christian faith (and every other faith) insists that we look beyond self-interest to the needs of the global community. This day Jesus insists we ask ourselves the question: Who’s minding the store? And then he gives us the only acceptable answer: Everyone must!
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