Reflection on Luke 4:31-37:
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. . . They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” (Luke 4: 31-32, 36)
In today’s Gospel, even demons and unclean spirits listen to Jesus’ voice. But do we?
Last week, yet another black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white police officer, followed by peaceful protests as well as riots, with some protesters on both sides killed and injured, and many people choosing sides and taking turns issuing recriminations to the other side. Whose voice are we listening to? What does our faith tell us about the sin of systemic racism? Do we acknowledge that it even exists?
In recent Sunday and weekday gospel readings, the theme of God’s voice is one that has emerged for me. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is described as speaking with authority and power. But are we listening? Are we searching to be led by God’s voice, or are we searching out only those teachings that support our worldview?
I believe an authentic Christian faith involves us challenging ourselves to allow our faith to form (and reform) our world view. We start with discovering what God is saying to us about a particular subject, then releasing our preconceptions that bring us comfort and embracing the discomfort of God’s way. We then allow God’s word to lead us in shaping how we look at the world.
A competing approach involves us beginning with our world view, and scouring God’s word for teachings we can use (or perhaps even manipulate) to accommodate that world view. Of course, this approach allows us to stay in our zone of comfort, but at the same time it allows us to remain ignorant of the truth of God’s teachings.
As reported in Angelus News’ daily email Always Forward on August 27, “Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki also prayed for Blake’s healing and for peace in the community. ‘Violence can never be the means to attain peace and justice,’ he said in a statement, emphasizing that ‘the sins of violence, injustice, racism and hatred must be purged from our communities with acts of mercy, with the protection and care for the dignity of every human person, with respect for the common good, and with an unwavering pursuit of equality and peace. The Church stands as a beacon of hope.’”
God’s voice tells us that all human life is sacred, from conception to natural death. Racism is an affront to the sacredness of human life.
Questions to ponder:
- Am I listening to God’s voice? If not, whose voice am I listening to?
- Am I searching to be led by God’s voice, or am I searching out only those teachings that support my worldview?
- What does my faith tell me about the sin of systemic racism?
- Will I stand as a beacon of hope?