jtemplate.ru - free extensions for joomla

October 13, 2017 - Superstitions and Divisions

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Most of the people I know have observed that today is Friday the 13th, IN OCTOBER, no less. A spooky month gets a spooky Friday. How much better (or worse...) can it get?

Maybe there's no better day (tongue in cheek of course!) to read today's first reading. Our reading from Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2 is filled with a lot of gloom and doom imagery. But all of the gloom and doom has a point. That point is to say: God is the Lord and we are God's people. The prophet Joel points out to the people that maybe they have forgotten about God - maybe other things have gotten in the way of their worship of God. It is time, Joel tells the people, to renew their faith and to remember that God is the Lord of all time.

That's actually quite important for us to remember on Friday the 13th. Of course we know as Christians that there are no evil days, but that all of time is in God's hands. To mark out a day or a number is to succumb to superstition. For us as Catholics, the real difficulty with superstition is that it can become a form of worship that takes precedence over our worship and devotion to the One True God. That's the problem with Joel's people.

So I know what many of my readers are thinking: "I'm not superstitious. I don't care at all about Friday the 13th." 

Yet the the Gospel (Luke 11:15-26) today asks us to think even more deeply about superstition. In fact I want to suggest that the Gospel wants us to face the fact that many of us may be quite superstitious in our dealings with God's people. That kind of superstition prevents us from leading lives of discipleship.

The Gospel today depicts Jesus driving out demons, but more importantly, he comments on what he's doing. He gives us an image of a house divided against itself.  Jesus tells us that "whoever is not with me is against me." Strong people can withstand demons and evil, but if we are divided against each other we cannot withstand those demons. 

Jesus' words speak especially to us today, we who live in a very divided culture. We are divided politically and philosophically, We are divided economically as the gap between haves and have nots grows ever wider. 

In fact, we are even quite superstitious about each other! The Pew Research Forum reported a couple years ago on how much people are hating people of "the other" political party these days. It doesn't matter which party - we all have a hard time thinking well of each other.  They see a sharp increase from previous years, where political party didn't have that kind of divisive effect.

Yet I think about how, earlier this week, a kind-hearted soul helped me get some gas for my car - and he was a person from "the other party." And then there are my neighbors who knew I'd be out of town for a few days and helped keep my sidewalk free of leaves.

There are multiple real-life examples of people being generous and kind to each other. But when we think only in terms of political parties, we are suspicious and hateful about each other! That's a tragedy - and it prevents us from seeking good compromises or having good conversation about our genuine - but not intractable - political differences.

We are superstitious about political parties - and that's just one example. I think there are numerous ways in which we are quite superstitious about each other, even though we are God's people. We believe the worst of each other with no grounding in fact. We are divided against each other, and that is exactly when evil can overtake us.

As Christians, we are asked to be united in Christ rather than divided. We are asked - despite it all - to find ways to embrace each other as members of the Body of Christ. That does not mean we overlook injustices or problems. It does not mean there are no disagreements. But it does mean that first and foremost we love each other and seek to see the love others bestow on us.

Today, let us be rid of our superstitious divisions and seek to live in peace with each other.

- Jana M. Bennett