Words from this weekend’s gospel seem to be a good place to begin our reflection today. “Though they failed to understand [Jesus’] words, they were afraid to ask.” Where Jesus is concerned; there should never be fear. Picking up on last week’s question, “Who do you say that I am?”—we must ask him whenever we don’t understand. Depending on our answer to that question signals what we do next. If we truly believe Jesus to be God’s best creation in human form—equal in fact to God, then we should bring our deepest concerns to him.
Visiting with a friend recently who is looking at the “rest of her life,” now with major changes, loss of a spouse and a new home location; I said, “Ask Jesus what he would like you to do next and trust that he will let you know.”
The gospel certainly gives direction—there are many things that a person can do when finding extra time on their hands and I know in the short time that I have been in this new state of “retirement,” that I could very easily fill it with any number of activities. I too am looking at this issue and wanting ultimately to do what Jesus would want me to do. It seems that it will have to do with “being of service” and with welcoming everyone “as a child,” as we read in today’s gospel.
Now we know that children in Jesus’ time were considered the least among all creatures, even beneath, women, so to understand what Jesus is saying; we have to remember this. Pope Francis is setting the tone for us and as he visits the U.S. next week, will apparently be mincing no words in letting the most powerful nation on earth know that “unbridled capitalism is the dung of the devil!” He seems to believe that there is enough for everyone if we but share.
He will also be challenging our country, each of us, to care for our environment. Again, if we reflect on treating everyone, everything—think, all of creation as the least among us, our earth can support all of life, but each of us must remember that this fact is contingent upon taking good care of our planet.
If we think about the children—the little ones in our lives, we get a sense of this. I personally think of our grandson, Elliot and the wonderful care he is given by his parents and I know that without it, the outcome would be so different. You and I have all seen examples of children abused, and not cared for, not loved, and we know how that turns out. All of creation, all people—all living things are the same and must be cared for if they are to thrive. Francis will be challenging us around all of these issues.
The accompanying readings for this week, one from Wisdom and the other from the apostle, James, add additional ideas that may be helpful, even comforting in our reflection. The Wisdom writer says, “If the just are God’s children, God will reach down to rescue them from the hands of their enemies.” With regard to this, I think of the hundreds of our sisters and brothers, women, men and children trying to flee from violence in the Middle East. A group that our parish has recently supported financially to help with caring for these struggling people is the International Rescue Committee—our board has committed $500.00 to this cause.
James adds some wisdom to this discussion that truly must come from above when he states that such acting, considered, “wisdom from above, works for peace.” And peace is what we truly hope for!–a peace that comes about because everyone has an opportunity to be at the bigger table, where we consider the needs of all. With regard to this; I recently got an email asking me to request President Obama to use an executive order to act on the petition of Citizens United to end unlimited, anonymous campaign funding that helps to buy elections.
Friends, so many things call our attention—so many needs; but let’s keep asking our brother Jesus to show us the way—what should I do? What one thing could make a difference in my life to make me a more feeling, considerate, gentle and giving person? If each week we tried to be conscious of one thing we could do—each one of us, I believe our world would come closer to living with wisdom and bringing about peace—peace for all.
One example in closing: this week I was going through our photos from Alaska and Canada trying to put together a sampling of all the beauty we saw in this experience—if you are on Facebook, you can see these selections on my personal page. If not, some tangible pictures will be forthcoming hopefully, soon! As I once again became aware of all the amazing sights we experienced, it gave me a whole new appreciation of God who put all this into motion. So my suggestion for this week to make us a gentler people, less able to commit to war, more willing to work for peace, is to notice the beauty in nature around you; your flower garden, a special tree, a sunrise, sunset, the smile of your child, grandchild and become aware again that all of creation is given us by our God to share and enhance all of our lives. Amen? Amen!