Lately, a privilege I have exploited has been to escape into movies and TV shows. I turn off the news alerts on my phone and binge-watch a season of a show in a weekend. At the end, I know how it turns out. The story has already been written.
My heart is frightened and anguished. I am struggling to make sense of the sex abuse crisis and the constant onslaught of terrible news. The church is in crisis. The nation is in crisis. I want to know how all this will end.
This week’s readings spoke directly to my fears and my urge to escape. To lose myself in an epic Netflix binge is to attend to the man with gold rings and fine clothes. As a result, I put the poor, the marginalized, the victimized in a corner, choosing to pay attention to them only when it is convenient for me to face reality.Yet the readings also give me a glimpse of the end, of the Reign of God that has begun here on Earth. We hear that “The Lord gives sight to the blind; the Lord raises up those who were bowed down. The Lord loves the just; the Lord protects strangers” (Ps 146:8-9). In the Gospel, Jesus fulfills the prophecies and heals the deaf man. His healing then becomes a communal act. The people cannot keep it to themselves.
The message I hear today: “Be opened!” (Mk 7:34). The Gospel asks me to remove the headphones from my ears, to turn off the screen. I do not need to be afraid or to escape from this world because God is here and I have glimpsed the Reign of God. The invitation for me now is to participate in this communal healing: to hear the cries, to attend to the poor.
Teresa Marie Cariño Petersen is an educator and activist particularly interested in racial justice and embodiment. She currently works as a campus ministry teacher at Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton where she teaches social ethics and coordinates the immersion program. She credits her faith that does justice formation to ISN and is an alum of St. Ignatius (San Francisco), the University of San Francisco, and (soon to be) Jesuit School of Theology. She also served as a Jesuit Volunteer in New York City 13’-14’ and worked at two Jesuit parishes. Teresa also serves on the board of the National Catholic Reporter.
Find her on Instagram @teresamariecarino