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Reflection on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on July 11, 2021, by Kathy Wright SL

Whenever I hear this Gospel I recall all of the times at the Loretto Women’s Network meetings that we were led in song by Maureen McCormack singing “The rest of our lives must be lived in the best of struggles. And if the road should disappear, we’ll shake the dust from our feet and walk on.”  Those meetings were probably the closest experience I have ever had of being with a band of disciples who were seemingly powerless, at least from the institutional perspective, and still totally committed to bringing about the change they felt the Gospel and Jesus called them to create. There was serious discussion, some disagreements, humor and communal meals at each gathering.

 And I can easily imagine that is what it was like for the early disciples. They set off in pairs and had to figure out where to go, where to stop and stay, how to effectively attract people to their message and perform the miracles they knew were possible. I hope they found humor and community along the way. How did they define the “best” of struggles for themselves? Preaching, converting, healing?

As I thought more about this I wondered if, at times in my life, I was not the disciple, but rather a listener or a host to the disciples. And then I wondered if there were times when I was the unwelcoming host or a distracted listener who prompted a pair of disciples to shake the dust from their feet and walk on. 

I came dangerously close to playing that role one Christmas eve in Haiti, and I am forever grateful that I had a change of heart. After a very exhausting time for several months in the fall, my co-worker and I had closed our facility for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to have a little time to ourselves and celebrate the days. We had given all the staff those days off and decided we could get by without cooking anything in the outdoor kitchen we had. About 4 p.m. our guard came upstairs to say that there was someone at the gate to see me. I reminded him that we were closed, and he insisted that I needed to come down to the gate and meet the visitor, who needed our assistance. I asked if it was someone we had served before, and he said no. He had traveled to Port-au-Prince from a distant village and his name was Josef. My first instinct was to ask if he was here with his pregnant wife Mary. I could not believe that a man named Josef was at the door on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, my second instinct was to go downstairs and meet Josef. And thank God I did.

Josef was the most disfigured person I had ever met, and he had been completely ostracized by his village because of his illness and disfigurement. That evening was a powerful opportunity for me to be a disciple and offer healing to someone in real need. My co-worker and I hugged him and welcomed him, and he told us he had not been touched by another human being in many months. To quote a commercial, the value of those hugs was priceless.

While that experience remains strong in my memory, I wonder how many other times there may have been an opportunity and I was too tired, too busy or too whatever to see the opportunity and respond. It is easy to miss these kinds of opportunities to be a gracious host or good listener if we are tired, distracted or simply not paying attention in the present moment.  In the same way that a simple, kind word or gesture can mean more to someone than we imagine, a curt or careless response can mean more to someone than we can imagine. The more that I know and understand about energy being the life force of everything in creation, the more I know how important every thought, word and action is that we put out into the world. 

Discipleship can be about big things and about the smallest things. The second reading tells us that “in him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will.” If we can do all things with the intention of following God’s will in our mind, we will be disciples each day. But that is no easy task. Our human imperfections, preferences and biases can distract us. Fortunately these same readings remind us that there is an abundance of forgiveness available. We have redemption, blessings and grace that arrive each day to strengthen our efforts. And our efforts, our call to be disciples and reconcilers, are more needed now in our country and our world. Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that “we were made for these times… For years we have been learning, practicing, been in training for … and just waiting to meet on this exact plane of engagement.” So it is our call to continue living our lives in the best of struggles that are with us today.


Kathy Wright SL

Kathy, a CPA, joined the Sisters of Loretto in 1986 and continued her service to a variety of non-profits (including Nerinx Hall and Loretto Academy) and Loretto with her financial skills. She has enjoyed serving on many committees, including the Investment Committee, Guatemala Sister Community Committee, Executive Committee, Finance Committee and Forum. Kathy lived and worked in Haiti, where she fell in love with the people there. She now resides in Florida.