Working Together

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter 2017

family

My children could never succeed without their mother and me. That isn’t me thinking too much of ourselves, it is just a fact. No one can find success in life in total isolation. I could never have become who I am today without my parents, various teachers and mentors, and my wife. Truth be told, I probably owe a lot of who I am to my children as well.

I can only imagine the fear and concern of the first disciples when it was apparent that Jesus was not going to be with them much longer. Some probably thought since Jesus had risen from the dead, he might just live with them in the same way forever. But Jesus tried to calm their fears by assuring them, “I will not leave you orphans.” He said He would continue to come to them and that He would send the Spirit to be with them at all times. They would not have to continue what He had started and preach the Good News to the ends of the earth on their own.

We may sometimes feel that we are alone. We may at times try to do too much or show others that we are independent and strong. However, without the help of others, without the help of God, true success will always elude us. Our actions and words can become empty. The gifts we have received can either be cultivated in secret and in the shadows, or we can welcome the help that God provides in His Spirit, His community, and the sacraments He gave us. By working together the world will truly know the power of the Risen Lord.

Live the Image

Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met, at the prostitute, at the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what he did was to call out this beauty.” – Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

We are created in the image of God, the beauty of which Metropolitan Anthony speaks.  We’ve heard that over and over, maybe to the point that we don’t take it as seriously as we should – but truly believing this impacts how we live.  The problem, however, is not necessarily that we don’t believe it, but that we forget it.

We forget it when someone continually wrongs us (or someone we love) and we harbor hatred in our heart. We forget it when we take pleasure in another’s misfortunes when we believe they deserve it.  We forget it when we look down on the poor because of choices they’ve made.  We forget it when we desire vengeance for those who have committed horrible crimes.  We forget it when we gossip.

Attempting to see the beauty in someone who has wronged us never justifies their bad behavior, but it does change us.  Seeing people as Christ saw others helps us to live the image in which we were created and it produces the kind of compassion needed to change the world.

After Steve Stephens broadcast his murder of Robert Godwin on Facebook, Godwin’s daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines said this of Stephens:  “Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer. We want to wrap our arms around him.”

This is breathtaking faith.  “Wrap our arms around him”? Would that we all could do that, but I’m not sure I’m there yet.  What I do know is that the only way someone could express that sentiment is because they refuse to forget that even the greatest of sinners are beautifully made in the image of God.