last shall be first

BY FR. RAFAEL GARCIA, S.J. | March 16, 2021
Today’s Readings

The man in today’s Gospel represents the majority in our world. He can’t get to the front of the line for an essential need.  

In recent times, we have become more conscious of privilege, including white privilege and economic privilege. Privilege joins the other 3 “P’s” which are obstacles for growing the Kingdom of God. Privilege, Power (in this world), Prestige, and Possessions become stumbling blocks for simplicity of life, community, humility; for love, justice, and equality, all central to Jesus’s life and teaching.  

last shall be first

Some essential “lines” today include COVID vaccine, immigration status, and health care. We are learning that communities of color, the poor, and developing countries lag behind in access to a possible life saving vaccine. Our broken immigration system preaches that vulnerable migrant families and individuals need to “get in the back” of a truly distorted “line.” Remember, if you have $1 million to invest in the U.S., you go right to the front of the line! Universal healthcare is still a dream in the wealthiest nation. Often, the infirm have to decide between buying medication or food. 

Jesus seeks out those in the back of the line, as we learn in the Gospels. In God’s unfathomable Mercy, the last shall be first! Mary, Joseph and He, in the womb of Mary, experienced this when there was no room for them in the inn in Bethlehem.  

Let us follow Jesus’s way, announced in his inaugural “mission statement” at the synagogue of his hometown: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,  because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind; to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Lk. 4: 18-19).

For Reflection:

  • In your work for justice and in your life, how are you called to “seek out those in the back of the line” as Jesus did?

5 replies
  1. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    When I was in elementary school, we sat in class according to our last name so the person behind me had a last name that began with Y. He was last all the time. The teacher then changed the seating so that we sat by our first name. His first name began with Z. So person ZY remained last for the whole year. How many people we know remain last for their whole life?. They are trapped in the web of economic poverty and can’t jarr themselves loose. That’s where my responsibility lies. I need to assist my fellow travelers on the journey to jarr themselves loose from economic poverty. They need the resources and a game plan that will keep them away from being last! I need to create and sustain a life style that reaches those who are last. Little by little we can sustain a way to help the economically poor.each of us…little by little. Today I will save my coffee money to give at the end of the week to Catholic Charities.

    Reply
  2. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    Fr. Garcia,
    I’m a little surprised and taken aback by someone in your position taking what seems like a shallow “wordage” to express a crisis by using the word “white” in your second sentence. This seems to incite anger and hate towards all people who are white. I can tell you that you are wrong.
    Many examples can be told of people of all colors who try to exercise wealth, pleasure, power and honor on others as “privilege.” Let’s all be peacemakers, not troublemakers. Let’s encourage love and dignity for all life and leave descriptive “color” out of the game. Thanks for your article.

    Reply
  3. Matt O'Connor
    Matt O'Connor says:

    Fr. Raphael,
    Thank you for your reflection, the back of the line provides a far better perspective to view our situation, and certainly provides for better company.

    Reply
  4. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Thanks Rafa for this challenging reflection. In any society, the least and the last happen to be in the majority. Those burdened with privileges, power, prestige, and possessions are a minority struggling tooth and nail to compete, maintain, embrace and increase their burdens. ‘Travel light’ still holds good.

    Reply
  5. Patti Meyer Lee
    Patti Meyer Lee says:

    I am doing everything I can with others in my community to help people of color move closer to the head of the line. I am also speakiing out for the benefit of the gay community. The Vatican once again declared being gay as a sin. Such reckless words. I know many who have suffered mental crisis, violence and discrimination because of remarks like these.

    Reply

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