Blog of Ewa Bartosiewicz

Month: September 2021

The apostol with a past

Today we celebrate the apostle Matthew. I must admit that this is my favourite character from The Chosen series for various reasons, but the most important thing for me is that I started to look at this apostle with much more realism. I knew very well that Matthew was a tax collector and that it meant working for the occupant and collecting high taxes from his Jewish brothers. I also knew that tax collectors often dictated much higher rates than the Romans demanded to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. It seemed to me, however, that at the moment when Jesus said “Follow me” and he got up and followed him, the whole reality changed forever and Matthew became a friend loved by everyone … it couldn’t be so!

We often wonder if Matthew was worthy to be looked at by Jesus; we ask how it is possible for someone so rich to quickly decide to change their whole life. However, we probably rarely realise how much regret the Jews must have felt towards Matthew for the tremendous betrayal he committed while collaborating with the occupier, and how hard it was to forgive him. Certainly, the apostles reminded Matthew of his past!

Each of us has made mistakes in our lives that become a huge burden after many years. Sometimes we are directly reproached by others, and sometimes we are so unable to forgive ourselves that despite repeatedly entrusting it to God in confession, we are unable to close a chapter. I think that today, while celebrating together with Matthew, we can ask him for his intercession in this particular matter – so that our past does not obscure our present. God always sees us here and now. May we be courageous in building God’s world, remembering that our history (whatever it may be) has shaped us in such a way that we want to follow Jesus today. That’s always worth celebrating.

Unreliability of human plans

Recently, in Sunday’s second reading, we read the letter of St. James. This letter has many interesting threads – more and less known. While praying today with this letter, my attention was drawn to a fragment which was given the title “Unreliability of human plans” (Jas 4: 13-17):

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”— you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.” But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.

After 2020, we cannot pass by these words indifferently. In the pandemic, many of us lost loved ones, jobs, and money, but it seems to me that every single one of us has lost our plans. It turned out that in the 21st century we cannot predict everything, we cannot deal with everything. Probably for a short time, but still, we’ve learned a little bit of humility towards the unknown future.

Yesterday I found out that my uncle from my extended family died after a very short illness lasting only 3 months. In one moment, not only his plans, but also his family, friends, co-workers’ plans proved to be unreliable… Nobody is ever ready for death. It is hard not to reflect on the fragility of life at this point.

In Spanish, the phrase “hasta mañana” (until tomorrow) is often used with the addition of “si Dios quiere” (if God wills it). I like this saying very much, because it makes me realise that although I have a million plans for tomorrow, next month and in half a year, which I always don’t have enough time for, ultimately life is not in my hands and the only thing I can do is trust in the One who has it in his hands entirely. He sees the big picture, so I can focus on being here and now.

10 years later…

Today I read the story of a 19-year-old Simon, who left Poland for the Vatican on a pilgrimage without money. He said that he had met such human kindness that although he sometimes slept at bus stops, sometimes he also ate like a king. It reminded me of the stories of Kinga Choszcz (a polish traveler), whose stories inspired me to embark on my own journey. Today it has been exactly 10 years since I got on the plane and wrote on FB: “I’m flying, flying, flying :)”. I landed in Kenya, where I spent 11 life-changing months and wrote almost 130 blog posts about it (unfortunately without English translation 🙁 but if you want to use GT, you can start here).

I also set out on my pilgrimage across Africa with no money, but I know exactly who supported me on this path. Every month, over 30 friends helped me financially so that I could eat and pay those who hosted me. Their generosity allowed me to leave a some money in all the places I stayed, hoping that it would strengthen the good work I witnessed.

Today I know that I would not be the same person if it were not for my African adventure. To a large extent, it has shaped my heart that wants to accept everyone else as they are and try to understand what has shaped this otherness. Today I am a so grateful to God and everyone who was there with me personally and spiritually. I wish everyone could have a chance to experience such a pilgrimage!