SOUL FOOD for Young Adult Communities: Sept.22nd 2013, Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, (Year of Luke).
Dear Friends, We live in a world that is preoccupied with personal image. We always have to have the best of everything. We have to know the right people, be seen with the right people, say the right things, and wear the right clothes. We inevitably have become slaves to an ideology of the image. So concerned with what others think of us, we become who they want us to be rather than who we are supposed to be. I recently had the pleasure of watching a film called Instinct which features Sir Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Junior. The film itself basically highlights what I have said above perfectly. Hopkins plays the character Dr. Ethan Powell, an anthropologist who, during an expedition to the heart of a tropical forest in Africa, befriends a family of wild Gorillas. During this time of discovery, he soon realizes that it’s not the Gorillas he’s learning about, but rather they are teaching him about himself. Hopkins character is so enveloped by this life that he begins to understand how much he has been enslaved by the world, to an image, and he soon retreats to a more primitive way of living,- without fear, without worrying who to impress, and whose bad jokes he has to laugh at. He realizes how captive we actually are. He finds this experience liberating, and he attempts to convey this experience to Gooding’s character, Dr. Theo Caulder, who at first is quite reticent, but as the film progresses, we witness something beautiful happening within Theo.
A 16 year old girl from Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, recently became a media sensation. But not for the usual reasons young girls end up in news tabloids these days. What she did was beyond heroic. She stood up to an evil, an image, and an attempt was made on her life as she made her way to school. She is one of those ‘children of light’ of whom today’s Gospel speaks of. I found today’s Gospel quite challenging. And that is what the Gospels should do, challenge us to stand up for what is right. What’s interesting to note is that the manager, who is only worried about his image, never pays his master back what he actually owes him, but merely a fraction of that. However, the master still accepted it. So too will God accept us like the master accepted the dishonest manager. You see people like Malala, who has taken everything God has given her, and with the time He has given her, she has already paid him back with interest. My dear friends, Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz famously once said “be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.” Another lady, St. Catherine of Siena once said “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So despite what people may think of you, never be afraid to be yourself, who God has created you to be. As today’s Gospel tells us “You cannot serve God and wealth”, – wealth here could describe something else, image. So, today, be children of light and not of darkness. In the words of Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Enjoy your day,
Greetings to the Leaving Cert Students of St Raphael’s, Loughrea, Co. Galway, and to the Leaving Cert Students from The Crescent Comprehensive School in Limerick, who came here to Esker in the past week, and earlier to the girls from Sligo Mercy. You were all a joy to be with! The Esker Youth Team. (See Pope Francis waving at you! He’s saying ‘Have Big Hearts, Open to God!’)