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Reflection on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on July 26, 2020, by Maureen McCormack SL

In our first reading today, King Solomon dreamed that God appeared to him and said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon asked for an understanding heart so he would always know what was right. God was pleased at Solomon’s response and rewarded him abundantly. If God said to you, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you,” how would you respond? It may not be easy to decide.

For me, I am torn between asking for an end to the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) and asking for the end of violence of all kinds. With COVID-19, I think of the people who became very sick with it and the people who died. I am alarmed by the number of people who ignored the guidelines of social distancing and wearing masks in public, who participated in large gatherings and ran the risk of infecting others.

As for violence, I think of George Floyd who was murdered in Minneapolis by a policeman who kept his knee on George’s neck for almost 10 minutes as George Floyd cried out repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” Finally, he drew his last breath and was gone.

Each day I pray, “When you arise in the morning,

think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive —

to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” (Marcus Aurelius).

I think of all these tragic and unnecessary deaths. I think of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., who was shot and killed while she slept in her bed after a no-knock entry by police who identified the wrong house. I think of the number of Black men who are killed by police simply for jogging in a park or going out to look at a construction site. I think of the little Black girl who looked up at a police officer and asked, “Are you going to kill us?” Three-year-olds shouldn’t have these kinds of worries. The police officer sat down with her, took her in his arms and told her that police are there to protect her.

Tragically, other examples of violence are numerous and global. I am alarmed to learn that Vladimir Putin is offering cash bounties from Russia to the Taliban for killing American soldiers and coalition forces in Afghanistan and that our current government is doing nothing about it. How we long for peace in all corners of the globe.

I am fortunate to have a nephew who is a very fine and capable police officer. He knows what the job requires. The Los Angeles Police Department is fortunate to have him and others like him. I am concerned about the people who currently are shooting at police or throwing rocks or other things at them because of violence by bad cops.

When Jesus was on Earth, he wanted his followers and their descendants (including us) to live a meaningful life here and have some idea about what heaven would be like.  Our Gospel today touches on both of these dimensions. Our Scriptures are full of examples of how Jesus lived and how he wanted us to live, e.g. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

For each of us a vision forms as to what life will be like in heaven. Different conceptions of the fullness of life. What is mine? Clearly, no more crying and weeping, except for some tears of joy. Endless joy, bubbling forth, spilling over. Weariness will not be permitted. Boundless energy, eternal life. All anxieties will have ceased. Peace, like a great river, will flow through everything and everyone. Tenderness and caring, enough to go around for all. Everyone able to see clearly, to see everything clearly. Music and dancing, expressing and capturing the essence of the deepest experiences. Seeing and knowing God. Seeing and knowing one another in a new way, as if for the first time. Those whom we have experienced deeply in this life will be that way still, only more so. Those whose core we were not privileged to touch here will reveal their true selves to us, and we will respond with rejoicing. New things to explore every day. A universe to uncover. The ability to be fully present to all we encounter. 

“How awesome is this place. It is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:17)


Maureen McCormack SL

Maureen, a former president of the Loretto Community, has worked for social justice in a wide variety of areas, including serving on the boards of the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation and of Eco-Justice Ministries, an ecumenical group working with churches on environmental issues. She is one of the founders of U.S. Women's History Month celebrations and has participated in three U.N. World conferences on Women. Maureen resides at Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky.