Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find.
This Gospel reading is paired with the story of Esther. “Now help me,” Esther cries out, prostrate, “who am alone and have no one but you, O LORD, my God!” We know how her story ends. Help comes and her people are saved. And that is what we always want when we plead with God. We want real, physical change, fortunes and diseases reversed. But the last words of Esther’s prayer help me think of help coming in a different way. Still pleading, she says, “Turn . . . our sorrows into wholeness.” She could have said “into joy,” but she said “wholeness.” And that is exactly the aim of salvation, to make us whole. The process is slower than we’d like, but it is happening nonetheless, day by day, sorrow by sorrow.
We turn to the 700 Club, and other sites where evangelist’s perform miracles and we asked “Why does not God heal me or my loved ones?” “Why does God allow all the pain we see on the streets and in our world?” We put all the work on God in our own self-centered way.
Wholeness comes slowly, it comes with hard work. Jesus reached out beyond his own people, tradition, extending himself to the “other’. We must reach out beyond our own social circle, race, gender, sexual orientation, and economic level and move into loving each other. It’s lonely work, it’s painful work.
I was asked yesterday why I do not burn out? For one thing it is not about me. I have moved away from the terms of “burn out”, and “codependency” simply because these terms stem from our own self-selfcenteredness and fear of truly interacting and feeling the pain of another. It hurts like hell, really hurts, to see people living in tents in the midst of wealth, to see people enslaved to drugs–it hurts, and I suffer, but in that suffering I move towards wholeness.
Wholeness is a process slowly but slowly we work at, and in that process we grow, we become real, and whole. Scott Peck wrote that “life is difficult and once we accept that fact we can live,” that is the process of wholeness–acknowledging that life is difficult and moving into loving our brothers and sisters in meeting their needs, and making their lives less difficult. There is so much joy on this journey!
Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Fr.River Damien Sims, sfw
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164