A particularly jarring episode is one that involves the sudden death of a recurring character. I won’t give out any spoiler alert because this particular blog is about one line of dialogue. When the individual who suffers the loss of the character is offered the use of the chapel for prayer and reflection, her response is “Where is God in all of this?” The response from Sister Julienne, the sister-in-charge, is that “God is not in the event, but in our response to the event.”
It is a response that emanates from the spirit of scripture. When in the ninth chapter of John’s gospel the disciples ask Jesus why the man was born blind, Jesus dismisses the prevalent view of the day that somehow the man or his family has brought this upon him. Jesus strongly states that the man was born blind “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” (John 9:3)
What Jesus is challenging Everyday Catholics is to move away from the mentality of blaming the victim. A man born blind, a hungry child, a depressed and scared teenager are not cursed creatures. The addict has a disease, not a moral weakness. The poor are not poor because they want to be poor any more than an abusive spouse is asking “for it.”
The challenge is to see each person with the eyes of God. The challenge is to see each person as one created in the image and dignity of God. The challenge is to realize that there is no “they” or “them”. There is only us.
But that is only the first step. As Catholics we believe the works of God are made visible through us. We are called to be the eyes and ears and mouths of God in this world. We proclaim our belief not in only pious practices of prayers and worship but in the donations of food to pantries, volunteering at soup kitchens, tutoring children in after school programs, listening to a neighbor’s lament, shoveling a sidewalk after a snowstorm. It may be as simple as calling someone who lives alone on a weekly basis or as complex as using one’s medical prowess in a volunteer clinic.
The event is not where we meet God, but in the response we give to the event. We can bring the presence of hope into this world on an individual and even a global level. Or we can give in to the despair around us.
That is the challenge of the Everyday Catholic.
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