Saturday, November 17, 2012

What kind of Judge is God?

What Kind of Judge is God, reflection on Luke 18: 1-8.

He’s fearless…and if he doesn't even fear God…he is shameless as well. He has no reason at all to even listen to her. It certainly isn’t her wealth or her power that moves him…she has none of either. And it isn’t out of pity or sympathy for her…he is capable of neither. He’s tried ignoring her…and she comes before him over…and over…and over. 

It’s her persistence that wears him down. This big, powerful, important, fearless and shameless judge is so disturbed by this desperate widow’s persistence that he finally…finally…decides in her favor. In his own words, “…lest she finally come and strike me.” Is he really worried that this weak widow woman will literally come down there and thump him? Maybe it’s not a physical thumping that has him concerned. Maybe he’s worried that this persistent and consistent cry for a just verdict from someone so weak and powerless will make him look bad if he fails to act…justly.

Now in our reality, our God is our judge…and he is nothing like the judge in the parable. He waits for us; he listens with love and concern, and while he will never be able to find any of us innocent, he is always eager to find us, through his mercy…saved.

Throughout God’s word, we see it over and over again: widows, orphans, the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and the lame, the imprisoned, and the stranger…the powerless…those who by a fearless and shameless world are judged imperfect or defective…the abandoned and the ignored; to God these are the most precious. Think about it…for a moment…just think about it. Throughout our lives, each of us will fall into at least one of those categories at any given time; and we may not even recognize it as it is happening.

So we have to pray…persistently and consistently…coming before the just judge over…and over…and over…and there is no doubt…he will give a verdict against the world in our favor.  BW

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Northwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association

There are no coincidences in life. Today, we mark the founding of the Northwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, and I think that today's Gospel (Luke 13: 1-9) speaks to this significant occasion.

The fig and the fig tree have been mankind's constant companion throughout all of recorded history, and even beyond that. There is solid evidence that it has been cultivated at least as far back as 7,000 years ago; it is mentioned over 50 times in the Bible, spanning both Old and New Testaments; and all of the references are full of meaning…it's not just a tree that bears abundant fruit with precious little care; it stands as a symbol of so much more.

Fig trees and fig crops were indicators of a robust economy, much like low unemployment figures are now. The fig tree was a symbol of Peace, Prosperity, and God's blessing. The Apostle Bartholomew was chosen by Jesus because Jesus saw him "sitting under a fig tree", which was a metaphor for being lost in deep prayer.

In all cultures where the fig appears, physicians have always recognized it as a source of power and strength, and as a source of healing for diseases of every description.

So, what is the point of the parable that Jesus tells us today in our Gospel reading? How does it speak to us…how does he speak to us…today? This tree, this fabled symbol of God's grace, is threatened with destruction…because it is not bearing fruit, despite many seasons of growth. The owner of the orchard even says "So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?" What a devastating conviction!!

Yet it is the gardener who comes to the tree's defense, giving it one more chance to bear fruit with his promise of extra special care…one more year…but only one more year

The profession of Medicine today looks a lot like the fig tree in today's parable…it has had many seasons of growth, and is flourishing physically and technologically, but it is not bearing the spiritual fruit that it is not only capable of bearing, but that is so much a part of what it is really meant to be…what we all want it to be.

Today, the Catholic physicians of St. Paul parish and our area take that first step…together…to begin the process of cultivating and fertilizing the fig tree of our beloved profession. We ask God's help for an abundance of fruit.  BW