John the Baptist’s Birth

Scripture Readings for June 24, 2020

Isaiah 49:1-6, Psalm 139: 13-14, 14-15, Acts 13:22-26, Luke 1:57-66, 80

Today’s readings in particular always remind me of a direction from my first retreat director, “read Scripture as if God is speaking directly to you.” That approach has formed me over the years. I think it is a key way of understanding the Bible in prayer.
That viewpoint, of hearing God speak directly to us in Scripture is key for all believers. No more so than in today’s readings when it allows us to see that John the Baptist stands in for all of us. I think this because I believe we are all called to point the way to Jesus with our lives. Each of us must recognize we are not the savior but we have been given the ability to recognize Jesus in our midst. Each of us is a gateway to God’s presence because although God acts in our lives, we need each other to confirm our inner most suspicions and intuitions. We need each other to lean on and explore who we are and can be; a process that is sacred activity.
This feast of John the Baptist describes how God works with every person who is seeking meaning and purpose in his or her life, a role in the world. Isaiah says, “The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.” We have received a sacred call from the beginning which only we can discover over time and bring to life.
Even when we are discouraged and lose sight of our goals, God continues to call us to make a difference and recognize the part we can play. Again from Isaiah, “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God.”
Today’s Psalm makes the point that God knows us inside and out. We will not be lost to God’s care … “you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar.”
The question from Luke’s Gospel is the question for all of us, “What, then, will this child be?”
We are also given the answer. “For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.” We are here to grow and become strong in Spirit, even with struggles in desert times as we come to recognize God’s presence in the concrete work of love. Then, like John, we can acknowledge a presence beyond our own, creating something new, making the world a better place.

Wednesday, Week Eleven, Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings for June 17, 2020

2 Kings 2:1, 6-14, Psalm 31:20, 21, 24, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

I think these readings are about relationships. Specifically, our relationship with God. The first problem for us is, of course, to accept that it’s possible to have a relationship with God. Too often I suspect we think of God as distant and unresponsive. Unresponsive in that how often do we actually get what we pray for? But then a real relationship is more than asking a sugar daddy for another sweet thing. The challenge is the same one Elisha had, will we see what’s right in front of us. Elisha asks to receive twice the spiritual gifts that Elijah had. Elijah’s response is that if Elisha can see Elijah taken to heaven his prayer will be answered. In other words, if Elisha can see God’s actions here in this life then he will have the spiritual gifts to do what he seeks. Elisha who has stubbornly persisted in accompanying Elijah to this moment sees the flaming horses and chariot that take Elijah to heaven. He literally takes on mantle/cloak of Elijah and performs the same Jordan splitting miracle to cross back to the other side.

Jesus is trying to give us a similar message in Matthew. What we do in our life is primarily between us and God and not the society or friends we may think are more important. Jesus repeatedly says, “do not be like the hypocrites.” He wants us to be people of integrity. That is, people who act on and honor their own deepest selves, their own feelings, values and beliefs in their everyday lives. In Matthew, this is expressed in terms of alms, prayer, and fasting. But the sweep of the sentiment explicitly includes all “righteous deeds.” I would suggest Jesus wants us to understand that integrity is at the heart of our relationship with God. When we live according to our deepest feelings and values we are connected to God and all of God’s creation. We are fulfilling God’s creation of us as we are.

Today’s Psalm identifies the rewards of a life lived with integrity. I was struck by two of those rewards, God will hide us in the shelter of God’s presence, and “keep those who are constant.” Yes the Psalm also promises, “How great is the goodness, O Lord, you have in store for those who fear (i.e. respect) you.” But I have to say that sometimes I’d rather just have a safe place to hide now rather than look for a special reward later. Also having someone stay with me when times are tough is a really important. That’s what friends do and that is what these readings suggest that God does. Maybe we can recognize the wonder of that behavior in our own lives and on reflection give thanks for the distinct scent of a flaming chariot and flaming horses.

Tuesday, Thirty-First Week, Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings for November 6, 2018

Philippians 2:5-11, Psalm 22:26-32, Luke 14:15-24

 

When I sat down with today’s readings the closing phrase in our first reading from Philippians, “to the glory of God the Father” is what caught my attention. Paul wants the Philippians to adopt the same attitude as Jesus had, one of selflessness. He uses a hymn that speaks of Jesus giving up his role as a divine person to become human and be like a slave with no role but obedience and to die humiliated on a cross. Why? So that God would be glorified. That isn’t usually what I think about as the purpose of Jesus life on earth.

I’m usually thinking about how God loves us. How God is selfless and wishes to share life. That’s the basic reason for creation and our existence. Jesus lives on earth as part of God’s effort to teach us what life is all about, loving and sharing what we have been given so that all the world can be a good place, perhaps even a heavenly place.

So that makes me big on gratefulness, giving thanks to God for all sorts of good things: sunny days, people who are friendly, time to read, my wife and kids, special times and even some surprising moments when the sheer beauty of something overtakes me. But I haven’t really thought much about it all “giving glory to God.” It hasn’t seemed to me that God needs to be given glory. God has it all, so to speak.  Yet today it also felt like something important. Something I should pay attention to.

So I noticed that the Psalm hit the same theme, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations shall bow down before him.” That’s pretty explicitly worshiping God, glorifying God. It feels more intense than gratitude or just saying thanks for a good day. I think I am somewhat uncomfortable with this unabashed worship of God. Another line from the Psalm seems to say what bothers me, “To him alone shall bow down all who sleep on the earth.” It seems subservient and I’m resistant to that.

It gets even more interesting then to read the Gospel. It’s the story of a man giving a dinner and many of his invited guests are making excuses about why they can’t come. But this isn’t just any dinner, it’s a story in response to a guest at the dinner with Jesus who has just equated being righteous with dining in the kingdom of God. Someone no doubt resistant to blatant worship of God. In Jesus’s story people invited to dine in the Kingdom are turning down the invitation because of things they think are more important. So the person throwing the dinner fills it with others who are usually excluded. These are people who normally don’t have access, people who have barriers to what others have, to what others are able to do. But it is just these excluded people who are brought in to the dinner.

None of these people deserved to be invited. They are dependent on the largesse of the person giving the dinner. I think this is an image that describes us as well. This dinner is also a world of God’s making. As much as we may think of ourselves as independent and capable, we are, in fact, totally dependent on God for our place at the table. We certainly are responsible for the choices we make but the source of our life and the value of our efforts and sacrifices are all related to God’s gift to us. We have to acknowledge that, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves and have a real relationship with God. Otherwise we are likely to think we have more important things to do than accept our role as guests. We need to let go of the attitude that our responsible behavior has earned us an invitation.

To sacrifice our standing, as Jesus did, is a tribute to God’s gift, God’s love, God’s power to bring us all together. If we can accept our role as guests of God, the one who provides, then I think we can join in joyful song and praise as the Psalm says, “May your hearts be ever merry,” and wouldn’t that, in itself, give glory to God.

Solemnity, Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

Scripture Readings for December 8, 2017

Genesis 3:9-15, 20, Psalm 98:1-4, Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12, Luke 1: 26-38

Today the readings from Genesis and Luke are foundational stories of faith: the sin of Adam and the announcement of Jesus’ virginal conception. The stories are here as a way to celebrate an article of faith about Mary, her Immaculate Conception. It is an example of how the body of belief develops over time. One thing we hold as central, Jesus is the son of God born because of God’s action and not human initiative, leads to the realization that something else makes sense as well, that Mary was conceived without original sin because she would be the mother of Jesus.

Faced with these long accepted items of faith, it is important for me to remember that these stories are how we convey meaning. We tell stories to hold ideas that are the most elemental and far reaching for our existence. These are often ideas we can’t fully grasp, we’re trying to capture what may be elemental instincts about who we are and what we’re about and a narrative illustrates rather than analyzes. A narrative can hold contradictory elements better than logical arguments and so the normative measure of our faith is a book of stories and poetry.

So to honor Mary’s Immaculate Conception is, for me, to talk about how God reaches out to all human beings from the very beginning of our lives to offer us the grace, support or presence that enables us to live happy, productive, holy lives. In simpler terms, Mary represents the perfect example of what is possible for all of us.

So that said, what do I see in today’s readings? It occurs to me that perhaps we don’t take the story of Mary seriously enough. What I mean is that it’s too easy to make Mary perfect. We assume her relationship with God was so special that it’s an unattainable single instance of graced existence. I suspect the story is meant to inspire the opposite. We should take the life of Mary as an example of what is named in both Genesis and Luke, “nothing will be impossible for God.” We all have a blessed existence.

There is strong support for this line of thinking in the Hebrews reading for today. It says God, “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens … to be holy and without blemish before him.” That’s pretty strong, to be holy and without blemish. It sounds like a description of Mary or, for that matter, Jesus. The point being that we too are beloved of God, each of us. Too often we don’t accept our own goodness. Life experiences and other people can run us down, raising questions about our abilities or intentions. Too often our confidence and positive self-image are fragile. We need the support of others, we need to recognize that from the beginning we have been good and at our deepest core it is goodness that supports who we want to become. That’s what we should take away from the stories about Mary and Jesus in the Bible. God made us, from the beginning, to be holy and good and happy. Believe it.

Memorial, St. Ambrose

Scripture Readings for December 7, 2017

Isaiah 26:1-6, Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27, Matthew 7:21, 24-27

There was a time when I really didn’t like Jesus’ statement in Matthew about heavenly reward as available to “only the one who does the will of my Father.” It felt a lot like lock-step obedience which didn’t sit well with me. Lock-step obedience still puts me off but I’ve come to realize that is not what is being presented here. This is about responding to an offer of love, insight and wisdom. Today’s readings assume you already understand that God has made the first move. God unconditionally offers love and care and the historical Jesus tried to convey that reality emotionally by the way he lived his life and intellectually by the rather striking and clever parables he told. So there’s an offer on the table. The question is, are we going to accept it? Accepting it means putting into practice what we know about how God operates. God asks that we try to do what God does, live a life that gives to others, open caring based on who we are, giving what is ours to give. If we do that then we will be on solid ground. If we don’t we’ll discover that there isn’t any other real solid ground to stand on. All the rest is illusion, sand that can be washed away by any of the storms in life. So this isn’t about lock-step obedience it’s about being willing to discover where truth and justice live.

As the reading from Isaiah says, it all begins with trust.  Do we, in fact, believe in a God that offers good things, care and protection? This is clearly not obvious to many people. It takes more than readings from the bible to provide the basis for this view of life. It takes the experience of love and care to foster this view. It’s also why living a life that is caring and loving has such a concrete effect on our little part of the world. It’s why paying it forward makes such a surprising difference for people. It’s what we celebrate when we talk about saints, whether it’s St. Ambrose, St. Francis or Mother Teresa. These people decided to devote their whole lives to paying it forward. They felt such a strong love from God that they wanted to share it with others, especially those who weren’t getting it from anyone else.

For us, if we believe we have been blessed by God, the question is will we respond to what we have been given? It probably doesn’t mean rebuilding the Church, going to foreign lands or feeding street people. It does mean paying it forward to others who may not expect or even deserve our generosity or love at that moment. Those moments occur all the time in families, with friends and colleagues. My own challenge is while driving. I think people should follow the rules of the road, when they don’t, I’m not very good at being generous. No doubt there are situations in which you are less likely to give way or turn pleasantly helpful. There are, of course bigger issues than facing our daily frustrations but there is no better place to start. It’s a way to begin to look at who we are in all that we do. Do we trust enough that God is with us to act justly, give generously and love unconditionally in real everyday situations? Not so much when some charitable organization needs a donation but when we are challenged, when there’s a risk, a cost to giving something of ourselves to others. Our first reading from Isaiah says that if we are willing to do that, then God will be with us and peace will be the result.

Monday, Twenty-ninth Week, Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings for October 23, 2017

Romans 4: 20-25, Luke 1: 69-75, Luke 12: 13-21

Luke’s Gospel today presents a story that is very straight forward. I suspect it’s not something any of us would disagree with. Life, specifically the value of our life, does not consist of our possessions. Although in Jesus’ time the common Jewish belief would have been that rich people were blessed by God and poor people suffered because of their sinfulness. Two thousand years of Christianity has helped us realize that being holy isn’t connected with wealth or possessions. St. Francis and Mother Theresa of Calcutta are easy examples of the ideal that we should, in fact, give up possessions and devote ourselves to helping others.

Clearly however, the story of the rich man building bigger barns to hold the wealth of his harvest hasn’t exactly deterred anyone from buying bigger cars or bigger homes or fancier watches. Even so I don’t think that’s a message we need to belabor today. We all know what we’re not supposed to do. We’re not supposed to put our hopes for the future, hopes for an eternal life in possessions or riches. Instead I wondered about the specifics of what we are being asked to do. That may not be so clear. The last line of the Gospel says we should be “rich in what matters to God.” The question is, what should we be rich in?

My own tendency was to think in terms of charitable works. I think we often think about doing what God’s wants in terms of giving to others, being generous, doing things for others. That’s a big part of the Catholic and Christian faith. But actively helping others is the outcome of having some treasure. I mean when you are rich you can give things away. If you have lots of money then you can give money to charity. If you have a sincere love for someone you can give that person love. If you have time you can spend more of your time with others. In order to give of ourselves we must first have something to give otherwise we’re just trying to build up another kind of treasure for ourselves. We could be trying to earn value in God’s eyes or status among our peers, instead of acting out of love. So I don’t think giving to others, certainly a good thing in itself, is actually the answer.

I think today’s other readings tell us what kind of treasure God values. In the letter to the Romans, Paul says Abraham was considered righteous because he believed that God would do what he said. It was Abraham’s trust in God that God valued. In the same way Paul says when we believe in Jesus as the one who died and has risen we are putting faith in God the same way Abraham did. Do we believe that God has come to his people? That God will save us from our enemies, from those who hate us. Do we trust that God is with us in all that life brings? Do we live our lives based on the trust that we are not alone or unsupported? That is the kind of trust that Abraham had and when we have it we are rich in what God matters to God. If we believe in God’s active presence in our lives then we will have the possibility of feeling supported and loved and cared for and therefore free to live out of that love and support. Then we will have the treasure that God values.

Friday: Thirty-fourth week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Scripture Readings

Revelations 20:1-4, 11-21:2, Psalm 84:3-6a, 8a, Luke 21:29-33

I am particularly attracted to the Psalm response for today, because it sums up where we are headed. “Here God lives among his people.” That is an outcome I find comforting because I think it not only refers, as the other readings today do, to our life with God after death but also to the life we live right now. I think the important part is to see the connection, the parallel between our life with God now and our ultimate home with God in the future.

There is nothing that I believe more strongly than that God lives among us right now in every moment of our lives and is available to us in a way that we don’t understand very well and therefore don’t fully appreciate nor respond to. These readings tell us something of what it takes to appreciate that presence.

Part of what we heard today is from the last of the visions of John in the Book of Revelation. As you know he is trying to tell us what will happen at the end of time. It is a mythic picture of what will be the culmination of God’s work. We often talk about the end of time as the time of judgment. It is that but that judgment in our reading today is a description of how all that is evil will be destroyed and all that is good will be rewarded. It is a story meant to take away our fears. Our fears of the devil, Satan, monsters, beasts, of all that is unknown. Even death itself is destroyed. The sea is no more because the sea represents all the forms of chaos in the world. Remember the flood in the Old Testament is how all of life is removed from the earth. So the sea stands for those great uncontrollable forces that ruin life on earth. This is a story of sweeping away all that harmed the people of God’s kingdom and made them fearful.

At the same time those who were faithful to Christ and lived a good life are brought into the kingdom to reign with Christ. Did you hear how judgment would be “according to their deeds?” Twice in a very short space John repeats this “according to their deeds” because that would have been a very radical idea. The norm of the time would have expected the wealthy and the powerful to be rewarded because of their position in society. To judge people by how they acted with each other was still a very new and radical idea.

Our reading of Revelation ends with the culmination of all God’s plans. A new heaven and new earth replace the old heaven and old earth. It is all new, without fear and full of love, just like a bride and groom, fresh, vibrant love that creates new life.

One of the things to notice is that there is a complete disconnect here between what was and what will come after. The old is destroyed and the new is brand new. Nothing is brought over from what was before except the people who have lived a good life and were already living as God asked them to live.

Perhaps in that disconnect is a message for us today. If this story of the culmination of God’s creation is told as a myth, then it is meant to tell us something of ourselves. Something of what will help create that new heaven and new earth in our own lives now. I think that something is our willingness to see our own fears and put them aside. To see the signs of the times, like Jesus’ fig tree and recognize it is time to move on. That all things change and we must be willing to make changes too. Each of us has different monsters and beasts that keep us from being as fully human and loving as we might be. Perhaps if we can let go of what we fear, what holds us, then we can more fully appreciate the deeper reality of our Psalm today, “Here God lives among his people.” The good overcomes evil, deeds can overcome fear. Today the book of Revelation and our Gospel said that’s what God wants for us.

Monday: Thirty-third Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Scripture Readings

Revelation 1:1-4, 2:1-5, Psalm 1:1-4, 6, Luke 18:35-43

Well I suspect most of you recognize that we are close to the end of the liturgical Church year. Next Sunday is the celebration of Christ the King and then we start over with Advent. As the Church year comes to an end we hear all these stories about the end of the world and the dire signs that lead up to it. Today’s first reading is in this vein since it comes from the book of Revelation which talks almost exclusively about the end of time and the coming of Christ’s Kingdom.

My sense of today’s readings is that we will always need the help of God to see what we need to do. On our own we go astray but if we keep trying, God will reveal what we thought was hidden.

First of all, as I’m sure you know, the book of Revelation is not intended as prophesy about how the world will end. The writer uses a style known as apocalyptic to strengthen people who are afraid of what is going on at the moment and to encourage a certain way of living. In today’s language he’s trying to scare people straight. We are reading the very beginning of the book and the author is giving corrective instruction to one community of believers. The Ephesians have been steadfast in their faith and have avoided being led astray by false teachers but they have one crucial problem, they have lost the love they had at first. So John says they need to repent and do the works they used to do.

This is a great example of how we can get lost along the way. We start out with great intentions to do good and make the world a better place. But we get so caught up in the task before us that we lose the very thing that brought us to the work. We can’t afford to let the work overpower the love that prompts us in the first place. To accomplish what is truly important we have to stay focused on our source. A close, loving relationship with God only happens with persistence and trust.

This is where the story of the blind man of Jericho comes in. The blind man is the perfect example of persistence and trust. When he first calls out to Jesus for help the crowd tries to quiet him. His response is to call out all the louder so that Jesus will hear him. Once he is brought to Jesus, he is asked what he would like Jesus to do for him. Here again, he does not hesitate or go halfway. He says exactly what his need is, he wants to see. Jesus heals him because of his faith, his trust and persistence.

We need to be able to trust like that. To ask for what really needs healing. Too often, I believe, we are afraid to say what our deepest desire is because we don’t want to be disappointed. We’re afraid God isn’t going to be there for us and perhaps we’re afraid of what change might bring. Let us remember how throughout the Bible God responds to the poor, the outcast and the widow. At least part of the point of those stories is that when we need it most, when we feel lost, forgotten, abandoned that is when God is most likely to be there to lift us up, to heal what is broken in us and provide a lift that is likely to be surprising. Because we don’t always see the patterns we have adopted, the defenses we’ve built to protect what should be shared. In times when we recognize our own need, when we trust that God is the only real answer, that is the time we need to ask for exactly what is missing. To call out and know God will put us back in touch with what we need restoring our peace and the love that is most important to our life.

Memorial: St. Martin of Tours

Today’s Scripture Readings

2 John 4-9, Psalm 119: 1, 2, 10, 11, 17, 18, Luke 17: 26-37

 

I have commented before that the situation in which Christians find themselves today isn’t so different from the way things were in New Testament times. The simple reason is that the basics of human nature haven’t changed. What may be more important for us is we can be sure the ways of God haven’t changed either.

John’s second letter is to a community of Christians that is beginning to have doubts. They are beginning to wonder if belief in Jesus is important and whether the commandment to love each other is really the core of faithful living. Other preachers are raising questions and proposing other solutions to life’s challenges. John says they need to live a life of love based on a relationship with Jesus. If not, they will not have God’s message. They will lose what they had.

The Gospel is saying the same thing in more dramatic terms. Stay the course. Hold on to your faith because you never know when all of life may change. Luke puts this in catastrophic terms of floods and fire and brimstone. But the idea is that life and death is involved. I think it’s worthwhile to translate these images into everyday language. We may be tempted to take the physical images too literally and assume we are safe from tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes, even though recent news reports ought to give us pause even on this account. Or to think that Jesus’ is just referring to the end of time or the end of our life.

In this case, the issue is, will all the other things of modern life, today’s progressive ideas, the comfort of our culture eat away at what believing in Jesus and Catholic faith have to offer. Has the course of our life given us an outlook that no longer matches Jesus’ call for a life of love?

I would suggest to you that one important consideration is would I recognize an invitation from God to change my life? Is it possible that while I was in the middle of my everyday life, eating, drinking, buying, selling … that I would recognize the moment when I needed to leave everything behind or lose my life? Could there be times that are that dramatic in my life? Perhaps the situation isn’t dramatic but what is subtle, perhaps what lies just below the surface, may have just as important a consequence.

What if we weren’t talking about moments of physical choice? What if it wasn’t about which job or what relationship or what to do tonight but about, as John’s letter says, how I was walking through my own life? What if I was confronted with a challenge to my current ideas or attitudes? Might I have to change how I think in order to save my life, to stay faithful to the Gospel?

Perhaps the terrifying drama of the Gospel is about how frightening it can be to make significant choices in everyday life? Can I see God’s presence in the challenges to my ideas or the way I am walking through my life?

When the Apostles ask “Where?” they are acting as if the dangers to faith are out there beyond themselves in some physical place or location. But Jesus’ answer suggestions that the challenges to belief, the vultures, are wherever we are. The challenge to life is within ourselves. We need to remember that is also where God is. That is why it is so important to walk through all of life holding on to our faith in God and God’s love. So that when the moment to decide comes, dramatic or subtle, it will be clear what we need to hold on to and what we need to let go of.

Friday, Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Scripture Readings

Ephesians 4:1-6, Ps 24:1-6, Luke 12:54-59

Today Luke is telling us how frustrated Jesus was that not just the Pharisees but all kinds of everyday people did not recognize the key time of salvation that is before them. And Ephesians is reminding a later church community to preserve the unity that has been given to them.

Jesus asks the question, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” I think there are two issues contributing to resisting Jesus’ call for change.

First, like the Pharisees, people saw God’s action as long ago, something in their Scriptures. The Jews may be the chosen people but God was a power beyond reach. To see God as present in their lives as a person was sacrilegious. I think that problem still happens today, somehow things of Gods are spiritual and separate from the hard knocks of everyday give and take. Jesus’ accuses them of being hypocrites. His examples of what clouds and wind predict, point to what at the time, would have been simple adult awareness of the conditions of life. As we say today, “This isn’t rocket science.” People knew how the world worked. But this also applied to their social environment. The hypocrisy was not admitting that they also knew whether something new and good, was entering their lives. They could tell the difference between good deeds and bad deeds, status quo and significant change. They would know if someone was trying to introduce something new and transformative.

If that’s true, then the second issue is they simply didn’t want to take responsibility. Jesus second question points right at it, “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” Jesus’ example suggests that the smart person who is headed to court tries to come to an agreement before she gets there. That way her fate is still in her own hands. Once the judge takes over she will be subject to forces beyond her control. Still we aren’t always so eager to take the responsibility for making life changing judgments on our own. Too often we would prefer to find comfort or a ready answer from some outside authority. Let’s call it an excuse. It’s easier than taking a close look at ourselves. A look that might reveal things we would rather avoid. I’m not suggesting we should make our life decisions without talking to others or without seeking advice. What is important is that we remember that every decision we make, every action we do determines who we are. The stuff we do everyday is our decision. We can’t blame others for the kind of people we become. We too know, if we admit it, “which way the wind blows.”

These readings can remind us there are no separate parts to our lives. It’s all connected and it all contributes to who we are and what we will be tomorrow. It is a reminder of an amazing unity that is a call to us and a comfort. A call to see what is happening around us, to notice how we are reacting, to listen to what is being said and to live up to the gifts God has given us. A comfort in that we are in God’s care no matter what happens. Ephesians itemizes the list: one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God, the Father of all, over all, through all, and I think most importantly, in all.