Reflection from Upstate New York: God Continues to Speak through Parables to Us Today

Reflection: God Continues to Speak through Parables to Us Today: Do You Hear It? Can You See It?

Sister Alison McCrary, SFCC
July 21, 2016

The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?” He said to them in reply, “. . . This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand . . . “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

On this ninth day of the Nuns on the Bus Tour, we encountered more of the heartbreak and hope that we enter more deeply into each day on this journey throughout U.S. cities and towns.

Today, we departed early from our overnight stay at the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, New York and began our day as we always do with communal prayer. Followed by a long period of silent meditation and Mass scripture readings, many of our morning reflections were from our stops yesterday in Buffalo and Rochester, New York.

Some Sisters reflected on the radicalness of the healthcare provided at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center in Rochester, New York. Established in 1993 as a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph by a former community organizer Sister, the center provides treatment for more than 1,000 walk in clients a year.  The Center is run by a small staff and more than 150 volunteer medical professionals who are able to fulfill their original purpose for studying or practicing medicine by serving the working poor and others in need. We heard directly from one patient who shared her story as the center provides wrap-around services by providing food, hygiene bags, voter registration, housing referrals, and legal services referrals.

1rochester1Other Sisters shared about the stories heard from the more than 200 people gathered at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School for our daily caucus events in each city. Sisters reflected on the stories heard from those whose voices are intentionally silenced by institutions because of racism, the challenges of our current democracy that doesn’t allow everyone to participate fully in society, problems faced by those who cannot afford insurance, and the countless issues faced by the homeless in their communities.

These stories, like the stories Jesus told, stretch our imaginations to envision a new society so we can work to make it happen. The last question we ask participants at our caucuses is what would our country look like if there were no barriers to healthcare, housing, living wages, family-friendly workplaces, full participation in democracy by all, and citizenship.  The responses to these questions are pondered and discussed at small tables and then shared with the larger group help all of us to tap into our creativity to dream it so we can build it.

1albany2Following prayer this morning, we then made our way to the New York State Capital Building steps where again we heard parables from those on the margins so that more people may hear, see, and understand what is called forth from us to be disciples of Christ in the world today. We heard the story of one woman of the Working Family Coalition and part of the Fight for $15 and a Union movement and how she struggles daily to support her infant and five-year-old son as a loyal hardworking fast-food worker and how she had to choose again between giving birth to her son and losing her job that supports her family. We heard from the local Amalgamated Transit Union president Cory Bixby about the importance of workers’ rights and from Reverend Emily McNeil, Director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York about the need for a living wage, fair share taxation, and a stronger democratic process. Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of Network proclaimed that “policies made a lot of these problems and policies can fix these problems.” Congressman Paul Tonko declared that the Bus is powered by the people and indeed it is. It is powered by the parables, the stories of heartbreak and hope, of all those we meet and who sign their name to the bus to commit to doing their part to bring justice and joy into the world for everyone.

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