Day 8: Listen and Respond
BY JAMES PAUL GUMATAOTAO | February 24, 2021
Every time I visit home, I make it a point to attend the 7:30 am Mass at the Cathedral. The main reason would have to be the Jesuit priest who can give a homily like no other. He is straight to the point, uses relevant examples, and utilizes inclusive language. His homilies tend to just “hit differently.”
Central to today’s readings is the Prophet Jonah, who did not need to say much to get the people of Nineveh to believe, trust, fast, and perform a ritual. One scholar points out that typically it takes more time and many more words for biblical prophets to do the same, making Jonah’s situation quite remarkable.
In the Gospel, Jesus returns to the example of Jonah. The Lukan author’s use of the story of Jonah is to recall the quick response of the people of Nineveh.
One scholar additionally makes the point that “the queen of the south” recognized Solomon’s wisdom and responded by making her journey to hear Solomon.
Today’s readings provide two valuable lessons as we journey with Christ in the desert. The first is a reminder to preach God’s love and faithfulness through actions rather than words. Much like the short homilies at the 7:30 am Mass, our actions make the love of God visible today, rather than mere preaching.
Furthermore, we must listen and respond to prophets and prophetesses among us—those who are crying out for justice, those who are fighting for a place at the table, those who are challenging us to act justly in our daily lives. God is calling out to us, what more do we need to respond?
- How are you called to preach God’s love and faithfulness through your actions?
- Who are you called to listen and respond to today in your growth as an advocate for justice?
James Paul Gumataotao is a theology teacher and campus minister at Cristo Rey Boston. A native son of Guam, he studied theology and education at the University of Portland, and is a graduate of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. Prior to moving to Boston, he taught in Fairbanks, AK as a high school teacher.
My life has always centered around words. I was raised in an ivory tower and because I was brutally bullied as a child I became fearful and withdrawn even to this day, my family and the people I know see me as isolating, alienating and withdrawing myself from life. They can’t possibly understand the fear that I have. I have always been surrounded by books and I have always written. Its hard to think how that burning desire for knowledge can be translated into action.
Felipe, many, many of us have been bullied and mostly it started when rather young and foolish. Replace any fear with love. Love yourself and love others-especially those who have hurt you through their bullying. Know that the real scar from that bullying is in the hearts of those who did the bullying. Really. You are free to forgive and move on knowing that you are made in the image and likeness of God with a very specific intent for your life. If you take a step forward out of your comfort zone and do one small thing that makes others smile or feel comfortable you have done a lot and you will feel the difference. If you pray and ask Our Lord and Blessed Mother to help you they will do just that. Really. Listen for the nudging of the Holy Spirit to help you to know what to do. But, you need to ask for that help. And, the ones to ask that you can really trust are Our Lord and our Blessed Mother. They will not let you down. There are people “out there” who need YOUR kindness and understanding on bullying and unkindness from others. Boldly rise above that fear and dare to begin your first actions little by little knowing that what others have done to create that fear will never get you down again. Up to now it sounds as though fear has won but let love of self, God and others be the new and everlasting winners!
Thank you for saying prophets and prophetesses and saying that inclusive language is important to you. Sometimes I feel so lonely and your words today were a balm.
Thanks James. In the cry for justice, there is life that is in pain. It’s an invitation to selflessly labor to minimize that pain.