This Sunday we will include the Litany for Healing in our prayers for the church and for the world. Most of us are keenly aware of suffering and brokenness in ourselves, in those we love, in the world in which we live. We may feel guilt or shame about our inability to fix the causes of this suffering. We ma feel a sense of hypocrisy when we consider the discontinuity between the vision of God's kingdom we celebrate in Church and the reality of our lives. If we were really faithful Christians wouldn't our lives be less marked by sin and brokenness?
Given the proximity of this Sunday to Veterans' Day we will hold up the deep needs of so many veterans wounded in mind, body, or spirit by the suffering they have endured on our behalf and on our behest. As the weather grows colder we also become more mindful of those who suffer the lack of proper shelter. I am particularly mindful of those with brain illnesses who lack access to care and support which we would never hesitate to give to those with similar levels of disease affecting other parts of their body.
Our readings direct us to consider two poor and vulnerable widows - Ruth and an unnamed widow who makes an offering in the Temple. Their poverty and vulnerability are emblematic of the brokenness and suffering of the world. Why do these two women remain faithful and generous toward God in the midst of their suffering? How is it that in the midst of our suffering and broken world we affirm and celebrate the love and care of God?
Remember when you were hurt as a child and you went to your mother for a hug? Somehow this exchange of love renewed your spirit for life even though it did nothing to heal your wound. The knowledge of God's love comes through to us from the suffering of Christ, and from the bread and wine of his body and blood. The mystery of God's love transforms the brokenness in our lives, the suffering of the world, from an occasion for despair to the very place in which God is most powerfully revealed.
So keep bringing the suffering of your life and our world to the altar. And keep receiving the blessing and the nourishment of God's love with its power to renew and send you back onto the field of life.