BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time | August 12, 2018
I still remember one of the last times I really shouted at someone.
It was one evening during the fall of my senior year and it was at my mother.
See It had been a bumpy start to my final year of high school.
I was overwhelmed with my classes, trying to maintain a 4.0 gpa
I was stretched too thin trying to be in charge of too many activities.
And I was terrified that it was not going to be enough. That I was going to not get into the college that I was meant for, despite the fact that I had no idea what college that was.
So I came home late one night after meeting up with my friends, and my mom asked me what was going on. And I let her have it.
I can still remember the screaming cries of you will never understand what I’m going through. You don’t get it. Just leave me alone.
Now it would have been easy for my mom to shout back. Or she could have allowed me to escape into my room with a slamming door.
But she didn’t do either.
She simply asked me to help her understand. And I did. I poured out all my stress and fear and anxiety in a torrent of words that she absorbed without judgment or condemnation for hours.
And as she allowed me to unveil my soul, she glimpsed what I needed, what I truly needed to thrive.
The reassurance that I was enough. That my worth did not come from grades or resumes or how many people liked me.
That my worth came from the fact that I was a child of God. Part of a family of faith, the body of Christ, in which I would always encounter a source of life that would satisfy every hunger and quench every thirst.
I believed her that night. For I witnessed the truth of her words in her very actions. She was allowing Christ to work through her to feed me, giving life to the world.
I thought a lot about that night as I reflected on the readings for this weekend.
For St. Paul’s admonition to stop shouting seems more relevant than ever.
For we are a nation that has resorted to shouting as our default form of communication.
Our news pundits shout at one another through one 24 hour news cycle after another.
Social media gives us the opportunity to vent our rage, using words we would be scandalized to use in public.
We shout at our kids to get ready for school and to stop talking in class. We shout at our spouse over charges that were made and dinner plans that were cancelled.
We shout at exes over the phone and friends over text.
But as my mother intuitively understood, once we stop shouting, we are only just beginning.
For the love we are called to is going to invite us to do the much harder work of listening to the deepest hungers and needs of those who were previously shouting at us.
The fears and doubts and wounds that we mask in anger, bitterness and shouting
A torrent of words that one so rarely show the world. The insecurity about one’s ability to be a good parent or spouse. The fear that one will fail. The fear that you are no longer needed. The belief that somehow you are defective because of the color of your skin, who you choose to love or the choice that you once made. The uncertainty about who one is and who one is supposed to be.
And once we listen, we too can help feed one another, with the bread come down from heaven. The sacred truth of who we are and whose we are. Until all are filled. Until all are set free. Until all are loved and taught how to be loving in return.
My dear friends, the journey is long. And we too, like Elijah, can be tempted to despair, to give up, to quit. For the shouting is too loud. The bitterness too strong. The hatred too great.
But fear not, for our God continues to feed us, to give us what we need. So that we can listen, learn and love as Christ did.
So let us rise. Let us eat. And let us be off together on the journey that will lead us all to the promised land.
May God be praised