This is not another blog posting on our political climate. Anyone that knows me knows I’m as political as my dog, Benny. No, I am not going there. But there is something to be said about the anxiety we are all feeling in the United States. We are bombarded by opinions, feelings and news about who to vote for in the looming election. It is literally exhausting. The passion that some feel about their choice is not only difficult to ignore, it is divisive. And after the election, there may still be division and emotion. So our anxiety is this: Is it all going to be okay?
If you ask my husband, he will tell you that my favorite words are, “Yes, it is all going to be okay.” I ask him all the time and this is what he always tells me. Because no matter what we go through, even if it isn’t the way we would like, it always is okay because we have each other. And I think that is the way of our faith. Julian of Norwich, a medieval mystic, wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” Because underneath it all, God loves us. Plain and simple. God loves us so much that God put on skin to show it. This truth is a deep part of us. If we trust this deep wisdom, no matter what happens in our lives or in this election, it is all going to be okay.
The first reading for this Sunday is from the Book of Wisdom, which says, “But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things! (11:26-12:1).” Listen to the words. We belong to God. God loves our souls and is a part of all things. We are surrounded by and soaked in the love of the Lord. All things change but this is a constant. It is such a comfort. We cannot hide from it. It’s in us.
So next time you begin to feel fear creep in and you worry what will happen with the state of the union, take a breath. God has our back. Hold on to the deeper truth that we have each other and a God that loves us. We’ll figure it out. It’s all going to be okay in the end.
Acts 10:25 – 26, 34-35, 44-48
In Acts 10 the author as a third person reported recounts that happened in Peter’s speech to Cornelius (a pious Roman centurion), the Jewish people and the Gentiles. The big questions were: Were Christians bound by the Jewish rules? Should the Gentiles be received without first becoming Jews (i.e. being circumcised)? This was never resolved in Jesus’ lifetime. It makes one consider how many try to resolve issues today in the church using Jesus’ words and deeds. If Jesus did not solve the most fundamental question of the Christian mission, we may well doubt that his recorded words solve most of our subsequent debated problems in the church (Brown, R., A Once-and-Coming Spirit at Pentecost, pgs. 61-62).
God shows no partiality. The root of all the readings this week (and always with the Word!) is love. How often do we feel completely affirmed to the core of our being? Do we ever get to a point where we have arrived in feeling absolutely loved and accepted for who we are? Are we worthy? We have a deep desire to be loved. Carl Jung said, “What we’re about as humans is a constant and consistent movement toward wholeness.” We are wired to be connected with something that is other and beyond. As St. Augustine said, “My soul is restless until it rest in you, O God.” This love that is God is offered to all, with no partiality.
1 John 4:7-10
From Creighton University Online Ministries:
I like to think, and I pray God’s fingerprints are on me and the prints I leave behind are just as noticeably God’s prints. For me, leaving behind a trail of God’s fingerprints is not easy, but God’s prints are readily identifiable. It is God who intrudes and rifles my heart. It is God who sets things right. God dwells among us. God dwells in me. God’s fingerprints are everywhere. Just like fingerprints on a window can only be seen in the light, I also have to stand where the light can shine through me. God’s love-ly fingerprints are smeared and permanently stuck to me. How do you leave your love-ly fingerprints?
We do not earn God’s love, and we do not initiate love and goodness ourselves. Everything comes from God…freely given; we can accept or reject. (At Home with the Word, p. 87) Can you think of times when you have accepted or rejected God’s love in your life? The love in the Trinity is the love that God wants to have with us. It completes the circle. Jesus came to be one with us…completely human. To the point that he calls us His friends. He chooses us. How does that make you feel? This love for one another brings life…IN ABUNDANCE! But what Jesus is telling us isn’t just a warm, fuzzy feeling…it is a commandment: love one another. Can all of us do that, all the time? “The relationality of the three bonded in the one Love spills over into a relationality with the world, thereby making it possible for human persons to enter into this communion in the one Love, “ (M. Downey, Altogether Gift, p. 60). We are meant to be intertwined with God in God’ Trinity. How do we do that?
Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. As it is at the center of our lives and our longed for destination, love must be discovered and cherished. While it is impossible to define, as difficult, to capture as a wisp of wind, love moves and shapes us like nothing else. It is both ethereal and as a real as anything we have known. Love leads no armies and possesses no land, yet it is the most powerful force in the world. It is all that we were made to strive for. We attain and try to fill ourselves of practically everything else; knowing ultimately that only love satisfies and truly fills us. At our best, it is how we understand each other, and how we understand ourselves. Love is the harmony that holds everything together. All we value ends in love. If you raise beauty to its limit, you have said love. If you have invested fully in hope, you are immersed in love. If you seek to create, you can only do so in love. Whatever is good culminates at its best in love.
Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. Perhaps because it resists definition, love must always takes on a person. Who changes everything for the concept of love or its theory? For us love is defined by the people who have loved us and whom we have been blessed to love. We know love because it is embodied. It has a face. When we think of love, we think of those of have shaped our lives by love, whether they have gone before us or are still with us. Those people we cannot help but think about at Christmas.
Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. We know love because someone loved us into being. We know love for the sacrifice that has been made for us. We know love in the thrill of falling in love, in the maturity of being in love, in the surrender we give to our children. We know love from the gift of friendship when our anxieties melt into the peace of our friend’s care.
Love must be made manifest. Love must be made known. If God is love (and God is love) then God must be made manifest. God must be made known. And that is Christmas. Divine love showed its face in Jesus Christ. A love at once precious, immediate and eternal. That love came subtly and humbly, as love sometimes does, in a manger to obscure parents. And that love came dramatically, as love sometimes does, with a host of angels giving glory to God. But that love came definitively. In the love of Jesus Christ, we know what it means to love without all the things that blur or block our love. He showed us to live for another. He taught us what it means to die for everyone and in the resurrection proved that love could not be defeated. With nothing more available to him that we have, he showed us how love can be radically lived with abandon and true joy.
And, if the love we have for each other, with its imperfections, its sloppiness and selfishness, its possessiveness and all its other faults, can still shape our lives, how much more can divine love shake us. It must have the greatest impact. Having been this loved and this chosen, we must look at ourselves differently. We cannot think of ourselves as not worth it when such a price has been paid; we cannot think of ourselves as incapable when such a way has been shown. Having been loved so completely in Jesus Christ and having his spirit fill us is the defining moment of our lives. This is who we are, the beloved of God who has treasured us. We can no longer look at ourselves the same way. We cannot look at others the same way either.
This is what we celebrate today -that God’s love has been showered upon us. It has been manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. It has been made known because Jesus made it known. This is what we celebrate – that our brother Jesus has known us and loved us.
This is what we celebrate – that love is still alive. It is worth everything. It is why choirs of angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on whom his favor rests.”