Author Archives: clarestrock

Walking Our Talk Barefooted

A dear friend, co-minister in the Marianist family, and author recently shared some of her reflections about the experience of this Lenten journey. You are invited into her words of the heart below…

Walking our Talk Barefooted

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustices, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.  Elie Wiesel

How often have we been asked to ‘walk our talk?’  In other words, if we believe in a cause or we have a view regarding a certain injustice, then instead of just bemoaning the circumstances or just talking about it, we are asked to actually do something about it.  Walking our talk isn’t necessarily easy; but what if we are asked to walk our talk barefooted? When we walk barefoot we feel the ground under our feet which makes our feet subject to bruises, scratches, and cuts.  Walking our talk barefoot is feeling our words and the depth of the injustice which in turn could subject our heart and soul to bruises, scratches and cuts.

Our nation has a history of people ‘walking their talk’ whether it is regarding the differences of classes, violation of rights to the protest of wars. The March for Life in DC is an example. Many walk this march for life to protest abortion but to walk this particular talk barefooted means more than protesting abortion, I believe it means marching for ‘all life’ not just ‘selected life.’ If we march for life then we walk against abortion, yes, and also against the vile treatment of our brothers and sisters who are gay; against the condemnation of our neighbors of other cultures other than our own. We walk against the demeaning treatment of anyone for whatever reason. We hear the cry of the poor and do not ignore the child born into poverty. We walk against the use of the death penalty; and we seek other solutions to the sword rattling speeches urging us to go to war.  For if we are pro-life then we see God in not just the unborn but the lives of everyone outside the womb, including the woman carrying the unborn within her. We see God in our environment and in the creatures God so lovingly gave the world and we stop the destruction of both.

When we seek to see God in another then we may even see ourselves in them. Is this scary?  Yes. There are many who don’t see God in everyone or everything. And let’s face it – it is extremely difficult to see God in a person when their actions are so evil. Jesus was certainly a victim of evil acts and yet what did He do?  He asked God to forgive them; not condoning their actions but seeing God’s image and likeness deep within them and wanting their souls to once again reflect His Father.

We also recently celebrated Martin Luther King Day; honoring the man who forced a nation to see the social injustice of  many of its people, walking his talk to DC and other cities – encouraging all of us to walk with him. He walked his talk barefooted with the scars of those who suffered for so many years. Was it easy?  No.  So many were against him and it takes courage and compassion to stand up for those who suffer the impact of racism and defilement of their humanity. There are many throughout history who have walked their talk barefoot. Some that come to mind are Abraham Lincoln, Dorothy Day, Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, Sister Dorothy Stang and Oscar Romero.  Each one found themselves outside of their comfort zone to walk their talk for those who were lost to society; those oppressed and ignored; those brutally beaten and destroyed.   Who in our own lives do we know who walk their talk barefoot?

Jesus could have remained quietly in the background, teaching others of God’s dream for all of us but He took the path God asked of Him and walked it – barefoot.  He didn’t just point out the errors of our ways He challenged us to change our ways. Because of this many found Him anti-God, anti-law, and anti-their way of life.  He walked His talk with courage and compassion; feeling the pain and frustration of the poor and those treated unjustly; challenging all of us to see God’s image and likness in all of creation. The final path to Golgotha, Jesus carried the weight of our sins upon His shoulders; walking His talk barefooted which not only bruised His actual feet but His heart and spirit as well.  

At the Last Supper, Jesus took a basin of water and a towel to wash the feet of the apostles. Jesus explained to everyone there; “You may not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7.) I’m wondering though if Jesus wasn’t also looking at the feet of His followers, knowing the challenges and courage it was going to take to walk their talk barefooted; seeing the bruises, cuts and wounds they were about to endure for Him, both physically and spiritually.  I like to think Jesus also was blessing their feet and not just cleansing them.

As we face injustices in our world, we have choices – we can talk about it and do nothing, or we can walk our talk and do something, which is good – or we can be even more open to Jesus’ call and walk our talk barefooted. We might get some bruises or cuts – but following Jesus’ teachings has never been about comfort and Jesus never said it would be easy but that it will be rewarded in heaven. As I write this column I know of my own limitedness, doubts and fears.  I’m not sure if I can walk my talk barefooted.  It scares me! Leaving a comfort zone of any kind is scary but envisioning a smiling Jesus, with possibly a basin of water and a towel at the end of my journey, ready to bless my feet makes the contemplation of walking barefoot worthwhile.

As we walk with Jesus this Holy Season of Lent and Easter, may we find the courage and grace to take off our shoes and take the chance and be open to continue to follow His teachings – barefoot.

 

By Susan Handle Terbay

 

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Are you a rebel?

“Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.”

“I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me…”

Both of these verses come from yesterday’s and today’s Gospel readings, respectively. What is John trying to tell us here, as he takes us through the trials and tribulations of Jesus’ time spent on earth? These words communicate the hardship, the rejection, the difficulty that Jesus experienced, preaching God’s message through his human life. They tell us of his greater purpose, of the journey to do his Father’s will, of the condemnation, doubt, and disgust with which others often treated him.

Jesus was a rebel with a cause – he spoke out in the name of those who were poor, sick, and ostracized from society. He ate with sinners and hung out with tax collectors; he spent valuable time with those whom society deemed to be unworthy. He did not look at a person and see the color of their skin, or how much money she made (or for that matter, how she made her money!); he did not take into account the opinions of society’s elite and follow the example they set. He treated all persons with respect, dignity, value – and more so, he advocated for the rights of all people, he put himself on the line for those upon whom the world turned its back. He suffered and died for being what some today might term a “mouthy do-gooder.”

It may be a bit easier for us to value and appreciate our biological family, our best friends, our roommates or significant other. How do we honor the Christ who resides in the young mother of three who sees her only option to put food on the table is to sell herself on the street at night? How do we honor the Christ who resides in the survivors of child trafficking – and in those responsible for the trafficking of a child? How do our decisions about what brand of clothes we buy, what type of food we eat, whether we turn off the water when we brush our teeth – how do these decisions speak to our understanding of Christ in the world, of the Incarnation, of our love for God and our desire to do God’s will?

God is in all. Do we honor the Christ who resides in every person with whom we come in contact – how about honoring Christ in those with whom we have no direct, tangible contact? Do we lovingly accept those around us, who are sent from God as our human sisters and brothers in this global family? Do we dignify, respect and value those with whom we walk this earth? Are we willing to stand up for others, speak the Truth in love, do good?

Are you a rebel? What is your cause?

“Do you want to be well?”

In today’s Gospel we read the story of Jesus performing a great act healing. Jesus asks a man who has been ill for 38 years: “Do you want to be well?” Upon the man’s positive response, he is told to take up his mat, and walk, upon Jesus’ healing power. He is made well. What does it mean to be well?

Health is multi-dimensional. To be healthy, we must be attentive to varying aspects of our personhood – our mental, emotional, social, physical, environmental and spiritual arenas of health. Wellness is often defined as the combination of health and happiness. In John’s gospel, the man who is ill is made well, leading us to believe he is not only healed physically, but that through his interaction with Jesus he is fulfilled, he is healthy, he is happy.

We cannot become well overnight. It is not an easy or short-term process, and it is not a standard we achieve once and then never need to nurture again. Rather, it is a process through which we are forever growing – a journey we embark upon and never cease. There are constantly new challenges to our place of wellness – whether the challenges come by way of physical struggles, struggles within our community, struggles in our relationship with God. By our human nature, we are constantly changing; our world is constantly changing. We must learn to adapt in our surroundings, respond to the signs of the times, attend to both immediate needs of our human family and search for long term solutions and responses to these needs. We must strive to adapt and change from a place of wellness.

Think about where you are in your journey towards wellness. Do you feel healthy, complete, balanced? Do you find the time to be physically active? Are you spending time with friends and loved ones? Today is officially the first day of spring – are you enjoying the environment in which you find yourself, caring for the earth and bringing a sense of ecological responsibility to your surroundings? Are you finding ways to cope with stress? Are you making time for prayer? Are you happy? Do you want to be well?

Lent is a time of active waiting for a new beginning, a new chapter. Active is a key term here – we are not passive beings, allowing outside forces to impart themselves upon us. Rather, we are taking various measures – alms, fasting, prayer – through which to dedicate ourselves to more intentional way of being, to journeying with God and others on a path toward something greater. As we prepare for the Paschal Mystery – the passion, death and resurrection of Christ – so too do we prepare to enter ourselves into a place of new life, of greater wholeness – a place of profound wellness.