In the midst of a pandemic, the US has exploded with social unrest and anger. Loss and grief have edged into soul-searching confusion challenging personal and national identity, flooding social media with accusations and rumors, and energizing the need to address our flawed brokenness. The safety of our self-understanding has been upended first by the virus and now by the rage. We are a nation that has lost a sense of cultural literacy, a common narrative, systems that are trusted. Instead, we have become a nation of multitudinous voices competing for recognition, change and improvement. Everyone is talking. Dare we listen to one another? Dare we open dialogue?
As Catholics, this is a moment that demands attention. It is about the most treasured of gifts: life itself. Foundational to the conviction that each life matters is the essence of human responsibility: to care for each life in ways that are nurturing, viable, and effective. This rests alongside the reality that each individual possesses personal choice and personal responsibility; that is exercised in wider communities creating networks of communicating, caring and compassion. And in the odd way that so often happens, the lectionary readings for Sunday, June 7, speak to all that with simple elegance.
Even within the chaos of this moment, God is present. There is the scene of Moses, tablets cut and ready, promising a god of mercy and compassion, slow to anger. Then there is Moses’ request for the company of God on the journey ahead…in spite of the acknowledgment of the obstinate nature of the people. The Responsorial Psalm is from Daniel; strikingly, the passage points to th presence of God in all things, all moments, what is real and what is only imagined. Second Cornithians carries the theme into a different arena: to strive to encourage one another, to find a common mind or common ground, to live in peace and know the presence of God even more deeply. Finally, there is the lynchpin of the Gospel: that above all, God wishes to save the world. And so, God gave his only Son to the world.
Tidily, the readings provide somwhat simple and clear guidelines for navigating these challenging times. The reminders are explicit: God is present; it is ours to acknowledge that, to explore and celebrate it. With that in mind, it is ours to actively support and encourage one another, to become collaborators in creating peace in our world. Investing trust in God, we become the wayfinders of this era. We become co-heirs in creation. We become people who value life, know purpose, and live compassion.
The choices lay bare before us. In a calamitous world, there is the chance to become harbingers of peace. It will require the conviction of Moses, the devotion of Daniel, the zeal of Paul and the certainty of the Gospel writer. It can be done. It has been done in the past and can be done once more. Essentially, human beings have been entrusted with choice. It is all up to us, to our responses, our values and our beliefs. It is time to offer the best of ourselves on the journey.