We had a rather blessed experience at St Romero’s last week. There was a miscommunication about use of the dining room at St Joe’s, and we had to move our service over to the hospitality room. Not a big deal, but a bit of a blessing nonetheless, because it gave us a chance to taste a little of the reality of poverty: of being in the way, and having to move out of our borrowed space to another place nobody else needed. I can tell you, it didn’t feel very good. But I’m glad I got to feel it, because as an educated, white, straight middle-class North American, I’m one of the most privileged people on the planet. I’m one of the people with a US passport that gets a polite greeting from the border patrol folks at the airport, passing through with no trouble. I’m one of the people who can go almost anywhere on the planet and find there’s somebody who speaks at least a little of my language, who can climb a remote hill in El Salvador and find advertisements from my culture on the wall in a house made out of sticks and plastic.
The good news in the gospel this week is that being on top of the world like that isn’t actually the great place it seems to be. Being on top of the world insulates us from not only pain, but joy. I don’t know why that is. But this week in the Gospel, Jesus tells us that we’re blessed and happy when we’re on the bottom! We’re blessed when we’re mourning, and powerless in the world, poor in spirit, hungry for justice, trying to make peace and getting persecuted for it. It’s all backwards, isn’t it?! - but that’s the upside-down kindom of God.
This is a red-letter week for readings, because we also have Paul telling the Corinthians that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak to shame the strong.
I don’t know why it is but I know it’s all true. Some of the greatest joy I’ve ever felt has been sitting in the dining room at St Joe’s with some of the folks that have come to us. This past Sunday, too, a couple of people came in off the street to join us for Mass, and as we were sitting in silence after communion, I could feel the presence of God --- just like I used to feel God’s presence up in the library at St Joe’s when we used to celebrate our little communion services up there. It’s a mystery but somehow God is present with us in littleness and humbleness and foolishness in a way that we just get insulated from when we’ve got it all together. Somehow the brokenness lets God in. Personally, I’m quite happy to be God’s little fool, and have this tiny little church squatting in borrowed space and not knowing what the future holds.
So come and be broken and little and humble with us, sometime. Come celebrate the mystery of the God who enters human history as a helpless infant, child of poor parents in an oppressed backwater of the empire, and grows up to die like a criminal, and triumphs over death. I don’t get it but I know it’s wonderful. Come and be blessed.
Love to all, Chava
PS Here’s a link to some great readings that will be the basis of discussions on the study trip to El Salvador in April. Let me know if you’re interested in going on the trip, or interested in helping fund someone who wants to go but hasn’t got the money:
Join us for breakfast at Pat’s Coffee Mug on Clinton Ave at 8 am on Wednesday mornings if you’d like to work on your Spanish!
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Church in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14603a