Friends, once again today, the Church Season of Ordinary Time calls us to be our best selves, not by sitting on the sidelines, waiting for someone else to actively follow our brother Jesus, the Christ, but in fact, for each one of us to step up and fulfill our baptismal call. Jesus, we know, became “the Christ,” “the Anointed One” through his faith-filled life, death, and resurrection, and in so doing, he became a God big enough, inclusive enough, to be a source of strength for all people. We, friends, as his followers, are called to the same in the time that we occupy space—here, on this earth.
The readings for this week’s ponderance are basically about, “faith”—believing in something that we can’t totally explain, but through the strength of Jesus’ Spirit, we move into each day, trusting that, as 12th Century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen was fond of saying, “All will be well.” And truly believing and trusting that, “all will be well,” calls us to do our part.
It would be true to say, I believe, that we all wish that our world could be a more peace-filled, and safe place—that the cares and needs of all could somehow be addressed. And the truth of the matter is that this can only happen through each of us, in our lifetimes, making it so—we have to be the change we want to see, a wise one said.
The prophet Habakkuk in today’s first reading is speaking to the anxiety the people in his time are feeling over the violence in their world. Our God, through this prophet, speaks words of comfort to the people then, and to us, “Though the vision [of whatever good it may be] awaits an appointed time, it will certainly be fulfilled…” But we also hear that there is work on our parts—basically a stance that we must take in life.
Habakkuk goes on— “Arrogance” he says cannot be our stance as part of our human experience, if being our best selves is what we are after. Those who are “arrogant,” this prophet says, “have a soul that is not right within them.” Additionally, he says, “Those who are just, will live by their faith.” Let’s look at that a bit…To me, this says that I cannot consider that I am better, more worthy, more privileged than anyone else. And all of us would probably say, if asked, “I don’t consider myself better and try not to be that way.”
We have talked about “white privilege” in the past and it is important for us to remember—at least to be cognizant of the fact that some of us have a “step up,” in this world by the very nature of how and where we happened to have been born!
The psalmist today cries out, “That we would not harden our hearts, if today we hear God’s voice.” This is great confirmation, isn’t it, that our stance in this world should be to, “lead with our hearts?” I am presently working my way through a lovely book that some of you may be aware of; Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, that I would highly recommend. She makes a strong case, coming from the Native people, Potawatomi, by name, for the importance of respecting all life, animals, plants, the environment—being grateful for each, and all.
She further teaches through her writing and speaking of the importance of having gratitude for all of life—animals and plants and all, and likewise, respect and appreciation for each. She further teaches that as, “we use life in whatever form, we need to, give back, to sustain all life. Practically speaking, we are talking about, “giving thanks” for members of the animal world that sustain our human lives through feeding us—for plants too, through giving their lives, and never wasting these gifts. Keeping animals for this purpose and growing edible plants makes this all the more, “up close and personal.” Perhaps if we all had more appreciation for “what” feeds and sustains us physically, destruction of our planet through global warming would not be an issue.
Often when I walk through the woods on the Redig Family Farm, I am amazed with the wonderful, tall trees there—some, 100 feet and more, and I consider them, “marvelous creatures,” almost, in a different sort of way! It would seem that as God created us spiritual beings and gave us this, “human experience,” we should do all in our power to indeed, “not harden our hearts,” but each day to attempt to love and respect all the life, in all its forms, around us—be grateful and “give back,” in response—in the very least, with our gratitude.
So my friends, this business of “being our best selves,” leading with our hearts, which ultimately will mean that we will need to be just, good, kind, and merciful in our world, will, as you know, not always be easy—it will drop us into some “gray areas” that won’t always be simple to navigate around—and, we may have to jump into the fray.
Paul assures us in his letter to Timothy today that “the Spirit of God is no cowardly Spirit, but One that makes us strong, loving and wise” and additionally, he says, as Jesus’ followers, we need to “bear [our] share of the hardship that the gospel entails.” Perhaps speaking up when everyone else is going along with something that they shouldn’t be going along with. Each of us friends have a special gift to do our part. Paul reminds Timothy and us, “to stir into flame the gift God bestows on [us].
Our final encouragement is Jesus’ call to each of us, an assurance really, that, “faith the size of a mustard seed, can uproot trees” and in another place, “can move mountains.” And doesn’t much of what plagues us in this world feel like, “uprooting trees, trying to move mountains,” at times? For me friends, I do place my continued trust in Jesus’ words and hopefully, you can as well, “though the vision awaits an appointed time, it will certainly be fulfilled…” Amen? Amen!
Today then, in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi, we will virtually bless and be thankful for the pets that share their lives with us.