Friday, March 18, 2011


Today's Gospel has that untranslated (and possibly untranslatable) epithet "raqa" in a prominent place. It's clearly an insult, whatever the specific meaning. And Jesus says that using it can set us up for judgment. 
Today I learned that one of the Franciscans at St. Peter's found himself on the receiving end of someone's translation of raqa: immigrant pig. I don't know what the circumstances were; Father doesn't wear his habit on the street, so it could have happened in any "chance" encounter. Whoever threw that insult at him probably didn't realize that the pig in question is an American citizen, though he was born elsewhere. What if that person is a Catholic? The immigrant pig may be on the other side of the altar at Mass on Sunday. "Judgment" in either case doesn't have to be eternal: I suspect that the speaker would find him/herself judged simply by learning the fuller truth about the immigrant pig they encountered on a spring day in Chicago.
"Raqa" may not be in our vocabulary, but we all have our preferred ways of dissing or dismissing someone. Lent is a good time for noticing that, and beginning to learn the fuller truth about the people we tend to write off.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Sister that was a perfect interpretation for my soul. God Bless you everyday.

Hallie Wolfe said...

Thank you. Like the interpretation. Sad story.