Genevieve Mougey Convivium Reflection

“But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness. So that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3: 14-17

About nine years ago, I was preparing for the final days of my graduate career and coming to the end of my time at the SOT.  I was anticipating life as a missioner for the Diocese of St. Cloud.   I culled through my SOT Toolbox, and used all the resources at my disposal: mentorship, discernment, pastoral imagination, integration, the prayers of many, instead of moving to Homa Bay, Kenya, I moved to the epicenter (at the time) of hope: Washington, D.C.  Nine years can change a lot. 

The bastion of HOPE in the world has now become an epicenter of people calling for resistance.  We resist “alternative” facts—we resist a disregard for human life.  Yet, we embrace the pieces of HOPE that wane in and out in palpable and tangible encounters.  HOPE and resistance- isn’t this the integration of the Easter message? We live constantly in HOPE- and we resist the temptation of complacency and resist the call or ease of disbelief and disillusionment. 

In today’s reading, Paul does what all mentors do- he sets time aside to reflect with Timothy, his mentee, about his work. Paul reminds Timothy that he possesses a “toolbox”, his knowledge of scripture, his experience in pastoral work, and leadership skills.  Concurrently, Paul is also setting the stage to gently challenge or correct some of Timothy’s decisions.  Timothy has a difficult job; he leads and guides young believers.  This “young” generation has their own needs and ideas of engaging and responding to the Church.    All while still trying to embrace and remain authentic to God’s call in their life and the Gospel message. 

Paul encouraged Timothy in his leadership to resist the temptations of complacency, and to trust his formation and education. We, too, must look at and examine the ways we are called participate in our world as Church, as Christians, as people who connect with the SOT and with the Benedictine charisms of moderation and stability.  We must give more than a cursory glance to our own formation and knowledge.  How can we remain true and embrace this authentically? 

We remain true to the Gospel message when we resist hatred. We remain true when we resist voices telling us to fear each other.   We remain true when our faith intersects with cross points in our world and embraces the diversity we see.  We remain true to the Gospel message when we align white bodies next to each other and say, “Black Lives Matter”.  We remain true to the Gospel message when we say aloud in unison with hope and resistance “No Muslim ban”; when we insist on comprehensive immigration reform. We remain true to the Gospel when we advocate for an end to hunger by protecting security measures like SNAP and WIC.

We resist and we embrace a Gospel that compels us to see dignity, to see Christ, to see the imago Dei in one another. We resist and HOPE together, regardless of skin color, faith, income level, sexual orientation, or documentation status.

It is easy to get lost in the many issues that can appear as distractions or noise.  We must remember, we have what we need in our SOT Toolbox.  That doesn’t mean it will be perfect or shared without error- because let’s be honest, we are involved.  And anytime humanity is involved, it gets messy and chaotic.  But we have to keep sharing, we have to be present to one another, to correct each other with gentleness, as Paul did with Timothy.  We must also be prepared to receive correction.

When I moved to Washington, DC, I took my toolbox with me from the SOT.  Discernment, mentorship, pastoral imagination, spiritual direction, integration, and prayers have all led me to embrace the call to see vocation in my social justice/advocacy work.   

It is when we reach out to one another and embrace the HOPE of the Easter message—the RISEN LORD, the PASCHAL MYSTERY—that our message of challenge and discord meets the resistance we know lies within us:  it is the fire of HOPE, the chaos of the Christian message, the  supernatural existential.  It is the HOPE of life everlasting.  It is Jesus Christ.