Let us pray in this time of crisis… So went the words of Fr. Roy Lee, the priest who served as chaplain for Catholic Heart Work Camp in Hardeeville, South Carolina this past summer, where a group of St. Mary teens and adults served. He used this statement every morning in the Prayer of the Faithful at Mass. At the time, I thought: isn’t this a bit of an overstatement? True, there is a lot going on in the world and in our country. However, are we really in a sustained crisis?
Five months have passed, and indeed there have been quite numerous natural disasters and the repeated unleashing of violence upon the populations of our country and other nations. From this vantage point, I would hesitate to accuse Fr. Roy of exaggeration. To quote Fr. Donald Senior, CP, the Editor of The Bible Today and Chancellor of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, as he writes in the November/December issue:
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel that our country— and our world— is rocketing from one crisis to another, like some kind of out-of-control toboggan ride, slamming into the walls of the track at breakneck speed…
And that led my to think of how much the entire biblical saga itself involves a long string of human crises...The Scriptures are not utopian documents; they are steeped in realism...but at its deepest level the story of the Bible is a story of triumph and therefore of hope…: not triumph in the sense of mindless optimism, but triumph because as people of faith we believe that God’s abiding love created our world and gave us our freedom and stays with us no matter how much we go astray…
The Bible does not simply acknowledge crisis and hope for a happy ending. The great characters of the Scriptures knew that in times of crisis it was essential to turn to God in prayer, asking for both guidance and deliverance.
While the gospel passage for this Feast of Christ the King relates a Jesus who will return in triumph, the focus of the scene is really to face each and every one of us with a question: how deeply do I relate to the suffering ones of this world? How willing am I to stand with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the imprisoned, the sick in their moment of crisis? In this way, the fuller meaning of “crisis” can manifest: a decisive moment. I don’t know anyone who prays for a crisis; nevertheless, in each crisis lies an opportunity of grace, an opportunity for the triumph of grace. May we, as individual Catholics and as a community of Faith, demonstrate faithful, abiding love at all moments— crisis or otherwise.