Paradoxes in fulfulling God's vision
Most of us can understand God's vision for creation and all humankind. We know that vision looks different from our experiences in a world of feuding, bickering, worrying, devaluing, excluding and ignoring the least among us.
But how can we be significant partners with God in restoring harmony within creation? How do we offer respect and justice for all? It comes out of honest struggle with each other and waiting in quiet with God. It involves greater selflessness, deeper humility and more sacrifice than is convenient.
The way of the cross is costly. We must lay down our own agendas, prejudices, anger, selfishness and arrogance to take up the cross of Christ. We can't carry both at the same time. St. Francis of Assisi wrote a "Letter to the Rulers of the People" about 1220. It is still meaningful today:
Keep a clear eye toward life's end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God's creature. What you are in God's sight is what you are and nothing more. Do not let worldly cares and anxieties or the pressures of office blot out the divine life within you or the voice of God's Spirit guiding you in your great task of leading humanity to wholeness. If you open yourself to God and God's plan printed deeply in your heart, God will open to you.
Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received fading symbols of honor, trappings of power but only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.
Embrace the God of us all and God's word wherever it surfaces. Initiate God's preference for the poor and powerless. Enter into God's plan of liberating all peoples from everything that oppresses them and obstructs their development as human beings. Do not grow tired of working for peace among all people.
Help remove unjust social structures and patterns of exploitation. Uphold the rights and dignity of the human person. Foster the creation of a society where human life is cherished and where all peoples of the planet can enjoy its gifts, which God created for all, in a Spirit of love and justice and equality.
There will be differences of opinion in how we should fulfill these words. But there is no room for disagreement about God's vision or our obligation to intentionally respond to God's call upon us.
"God, grant us wisdom, courage and humility for the living of these days. Amen."