Becoming human

While children in Sudan are starving and migrants are being bused to sanctuary cities, while Bakhmut is falling and the G7 leaders meet at Hiroshima, while China watches Taiwan and Putin eyes Ukraine, the free world revels in memes and streaming, in the stuff of wealth and its complaints, in violence in language and action. And so it is easy to forget that the power of good is still alive and is reborn, rekindled, in us over and again. And with each new opening, we are invited to consider the richness of the Universe we live in and our roles and responsibilities in that.

We carve life from the fabric of ordinary days, and we make it matter. Today is an invitation to consider how we make that happen, how we chose to live. As a Christian, listening has often generated feelings of rejection, of anger and frustration at the rampant nature of stereotypes and the politicization of faith. It is in the quiet that is so much a part of so many cultural and religious traditions that the sense of suffering becomes so obvious. Clearly, the differences among us have obscured the sameness, even enflaming anger and fueling cruelties. The threats to identity on all sides have brutalized the perception of the whole of who we are: human beings, creatures like the birds of the air and the fish in the sea. We have allowed respect for self and one another to exist on mere gasps of air rather than celebrate full fledged recognition.

Today is different; today is an invitation to go beyond all that and embrace the most fundamental of realities. Today, in that awkward space between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday, we are reminded what it is to be confused, feel alone and forgotten. In other words, what it is to feel threatened emotionally and socially. Once again, Scripture teaches us how to be human in a world where that has become somewhat challenging. There is the direction to pray; notably, it is mentioned as a group activity. There is the challenge to do the right thing in all circumstances and then there is the Gospel with the premise that here in this world, we belong. Belonging to one another cascades with promise and potential, with strength for meeting the difficulties and dichotomies evolving every day.

The passages all allude to the reality that being human is hard work: there are ups and downs, fears and anxieties. But there are also ways to cope with those. Prayer can be one of those very practical tools. Thinking about how the world around us is perceived and constructed and what part we play in all that is a valid and necessary part of our humanity. Doing it together, conscious of self and others, is a critical aspect of what it means to be human. We can begin to see the similarities alive beneath all of the differences. Thousands of years ago, it was clear that humans can help one another become better human beings. And today, amid the confusion and the chaos, it is still clear.

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