of Creighton University's Online Ministries
July 9th, 2011
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
It isn’t that simple. Jesus always challenges us. In the Gospel lesson for today, Jesus also tells us that we should not be afraid of anything that can kill our bodies but not our souls. He reminds us how much our heavenly Father values us and cares for us. But Jesus does tell us that we should be afraid of the evil one that can destroy both our bodies and our souls in hell.
How can we protect ourselves from this danger to our souls? Jesus tells us that we are to proclaim his teachings with great confidence. But if we deny Jesus, we are in grave danger. What does this mean for our daily lives? I had an experience a week ago that helps me make sense of this serious challenge. I was having lunch with some older extended family members who get together each summer to catch up on family news. This time the conversation turned to current events. I am usually fairly quiet at these gatherings. Because I am the only person with a university education and I am the youngest person in the group (I have no grandchildren), my views are quite different than those of most folks present. And, as a cultural anthropologist, I learn a lot from just listening to people. So this group of middle-class retired and senior citizens of rural Iowa always intrigues me.
Rather than cute anecdotes regarding grandchildren, the heated topics of discussion for the day were the ordination of gay people, immigration, globalization, corrupt politicians, a stagnant economy and global warming. Clearly the people present were feeling very threatened by changes in their world and a loss of local authority over moral norms. But they were not looking to Jesus for answers. Instead, they were looking for ways to invoke God’s judgments on others. Instead of worrying about how they could proclaim Jesus’ life and teaching in the world, they were looking to condemn the souls of others. And instead of looking to Jesus for answers on how to address global environmental issues, they dismissed these concerns as the political agendas of people seeking new opportunities for profit. When I raised the question regarding the human suffering in the world as a result of our lack of action in these matters, their answer was that “God will take care of it.”
I was deeply saddened by these conversations. I have come to believe that while God does take care of the lowly and God does take care of each of us, to fail to work with God by doing the work of Jesus to care for others is a form of denying Christ. I even feel that to dismiss the suffering of others with the statement that “God will take care of it” is to take the Lord’s name in vain. I am thankful that a big part of my education has been spiritual. I have a Ph.D. in social science and I understand issues regarding sexuality, immigration, globalization, politics, economics, and environmentalism. But I have also studied Ignatian spirituality and have regular conversations with the Jesuits about these issues. And I am a careful listener to the sermons preached by my Lutheran pastor each Sunday. They are always calls to action. I believe that God is all powerful. But I am also hearing that I need to seek to serve him constantly by proclaiming Christ’s love for others in the midst of all life’s challenges. I am not afraid to say that. In fact, I am afraid for my soul if I don’t. Last week I didn’t say enough and I am still troubled by that. Today I pray for our souls and that we will all be given more confidence to proclaim Christ in the very real circumstances of our troubled world.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook