Does anything say “hold your nose” like a pamphlet in your parish literature rack with the words “Twenty-Third Publications” on the back?
Here is how one Alice Camille describes today’s Gospel in her series “Exploring the Sunday Readings”:
Jesus could have died in chapter 4 of Luke. The New Testament would have been a lot shorter, and maybe we’d have cliffs in the center of our sanctuaries instead of crosses. The reason for his death wouldn’t be much different: people feeling resentment because they saw their power being taken away from them. Citizens of Rome, Jerusalem, and Nazareth were united in this sense: they all thought of themselves as the center of the universe. They didn’t want to hear that from God’s perspective, starving foreign widows and sick enemy generals had as much claim to divine mercy as they did.
Not much has changed. It’s hard for us, in the comfortable center of our personal universe, to imagine that God is invested in the welfare of foreign mammas and their children, much less in the well-being of our rivals at work or in political affiliation, those who profess other creeds or speak other languages. To embrace the notion that God is their father as well as ours makes them sisters and brothers to us. Such an idea would change everything.
Just who is Ms. Camille’s target audience — the hardhearted xenophobes in paragraph two who serve as her straw men? Of course not. It’s the dwindling number of liberal Catholics who derive self-satisfaction from being told they’re surrounded by rubes.