Years ago, in an inner city classroom, students were poring over the biblical story of Job. The teacher threw out a question, “Have any of you ever felt like Job?” A scrawny freshman responded, “Every day of my life!” The real weight of being, the challenge of being human and simply being who we are is framed in his perception with an unparalleled eloquence. But that weight rests next to the incredible intellectual and emotional strengths and powers that lie within us. Every day, that kid showed up. Every day, he interacted with others and shared his thinking and perspectives. Every day, feeling like Job, he mattered and he managed to make others feel they mattered. He was able to re-frame his Job experiences in a way that made a difference. With strength and courage, he continued to engage in the battle to become the best of who he was and who he could be. And so, even years later, he left a legacy for every person who was in that room that day. He was not trapped in despair and he invited everyone to accept happens and choose to live. He showed us that the redundancy of human experiences, the way we are each caught in circumstances beyond our control, the truth that we live in increments of time can become treasured parts of the frame rather than burdens of brokenness.
What I like about Catholicism is the idea that there is not one frame. There is not a single path or an unquestioned practice. There are lots of models, exemplars, suggestions and possibilities. There are ways to negotiate and discover, and every generation gives birth to new interpretations and expressions of hope and devotion. What seems most consistent to me is the divergence, the room for more, and the confidence that is placed in humans just discovering their own lives every day. Belonging to the human race, to the Catholic tradition, can be a incredibly humbling and awesomely empowering all at once. The task is to discover or design the best frame for all that life offers. Indisputably, it is all about the choices we make on the wild ride that is life. Believing that there is purpose and meaning in what we do and how we live is a primary feature in choosing the style of the frame. But there is another factor: how we assess and choose our sense of belonging in the world, to the human race, and to other human beings.
The readings for today explore that idea of belonging with an uncommon clarity. Belonging is defined by God’s actions and responses, not by human preferences. There is a sense that what matters most is finding that link to the divine in the mystery of being who we are. Those are uncharted waters for each of us in each generation. Always there are precepts and guidelines, rules and commands, but there is more to it. It is about trusting that uncondiitonal love is the Creator’s gift to us. The mire and mystery of life cannot negate or abrogate that, and no human choice can eradicate that covenant. Building a frame boned by that idea guarantees a sense of belonging that can sustain through any curse or crisis, tragedy or triumph. Feeling like Job everyday and continuing to embrace the journey is a gift beyond measure…Frame on! You matter, and so does the next person!