Rev. Eric M. Augenstein
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – July 17, 2016
Genesis 18.1-10a Psalm 15 Colossians 1.24-28 Luke 10.38-42
The storm was fierce. Loud, booming, continuous peals of thunder. Countless bright streaks of lightning. Rain falling in sheets so fast that the roads and sidewalks were turning into rivers. In many ways, it was a typical summer late-afternoon thunderstorm in Indiana this past Friday night, as I finished up my summer stay at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, where I have served on the staff of their summer liturgical leadership program for youth. Many of us were gathered in the main church at this Benedictine monastery for vespers – evening prayer – just as the storm hit. As the bells rang the hour and the monks rose from their choir stalls, the thunder and rain threatened to overpower the soft, steady chanting of the psalms. But we prayed on. When the power went out and the organ could no longer be played to sustain the singing, we prayed on – unaccompanied, without ever missing a beat or a note. As the storm raged around us, there was an extraordinary calm in that church – the peaceful, gentle praying of monks who have not ceased their five-times-a-day prayer for anything since they settled on this particular hill in southern Indiana in 1854, not even the day their monastery was on fire and monks took turns rotating chanting the psalms and carrying buckets of water to put out the flames. In the midst of turmoil and fear and storm and tempest – the Church stays steady and faithful and hopeful. Because we sit at the feet of Jesus, and he is our rock.
There are times when I don’t know how to react or respond these days to the ever-increasing turbulence that surrounds and permeates the human family, both near and far. Orlando to Dallas to Nice, France to Istanbul to our own families struggling with scorn and hatred and hopelessness and addiction. There are some days when I just want to go to a church and lock myself inside and shut out the outside world because it has become too much to bear. There are other days when I wonder how all the good people I know – and there are so many good people – could work together to change this world for the better and banish from our midst hatred and warfare and violence. And then, in those moments when I do stop and enter the hard silence of communion with God, sitting with Mary at the feet of our Lord and Master, I remember the truth that surpasses all understanding, the mystery hidden from the ages, as St. Paul would say – that God is in charge; that God’s people – the Church – can be a refuge in the midst of storms; and that we must carry on the mission that we have been given: to become holy, disciples of Jesus Christ, and to lead our fellow human beings, one person at a time, to the source of all holiness. We are a broken people, indeed – and the storms of our world are a daily reminder of our brokenness. But in Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed, and it is him whom we must proclaim – in our words, in our love, in our lives.