Oh man, I needed to hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah! I've been struggling a lot lately with the various strifes we face as individuals and as a society.
One of my struggles has been with COVID-19 safety and preparedness. Over the past few weeks, I have had more friends, and coworkers get tested for COVID-19. They've crept back into some senses of normalcy over the holiday weekends between Memorial day and the 4th of July, exposing them to the virus. Thankfully, everyone has tested negative for now.
Then we have a family wedding happening in a few weeks. It's a considerable safety risk to cluster a bunch of people together for a wedding reception, and I'll be amazed if we manage to keep anyone from contracting COVID-19. Still, we love this couple and want them to have the best version of a day they envisioned when they got engaged. That doesn't make the stress of preparations any more relaxed. So I've been in a bit of despair.
Enter Isaiah. God decree's to the Prophet, "I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." God goes on to elaborate on what the decree means. I needed to recall that faith must play a big part in moving forward. Blind faith is sometimes the hardest thing to put into action because we strongly believe things into reality. In our current era, we tend to will our "facts" into existence. I am generally speaking here. Those who are denying COVID-19 as a threat are not looking at the people falling from the disease. Those trapped inside a prison of fear are also not looking at the pathway to a more free movement. (read: everyone wears a facemask and stay outside as much as possible!- H.N.L. Leung et al, Nature medicine January, 2020 )
Take these words Jesus quotes from Isaiah,
"Your ears are open, but you don't hear a thing.
Your eyes are awake, but you don't see a thing.
The people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
so they won't have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
so they won't have to look,
so they won't have to deal with me face-to-face
and let me heal them."
Which seeds are we? The ones in the road, gravel, weeds, or good earth? It's time we cultivate some better ground.
The people in positions of authority, those who perpetuate the status quo, keep telling us that they know better. They haven't done much to do better by way of shifting toward the common good. The wealthiest keep getting wealthier, the poor are even more miserable now, and the disparity between people grows. The sense of great misery is not escaping most of us. But Saint Paul has a most timely message to the Romans.
"That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next."
We are standing at a pivot point for the world. What truths do we hold sacred, and what things need discarding? We see an awakening toward Human Rights. I think most people want what's best for everyone else, maybe not at a practical level, but at least placating to the idea that we can make things better.
Paul goes on to say, "The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within." What are we birthing?
I hope that we are shifting perspectives from a consumer mindset to a service mindset.
In self-help writer Jim Rohn's philosophies, he talks about how if you find a way to serve people, you'll become quite wealthy. Maybe not in material wealth but the most profitable of human endeavors, love.
I believe that when we surrender our greed to the act of service, we will profit in ways that the Prophets spoke about in the old testament. Those who are ill will get the care they need. Those who are hungry will have access to the food they need. Those who are homeless can have shelter and safety. Our rights as humans deserve fulfillment, or else we become like animals. Look at the fighting we do on Social Media. Much of it is akin to dogs fighting for dominance. Are we no better than the canines? OF COURSE, WE ARE! But the vitriol and debasement of so many are causing severe harm to our brothers and sisters.
The joy of anticipation and expectation are the driving forces of progress. If we are to defend the unborn, we cannot abandon them to poverty. If we want to honor natural death, we must not leave our elderly and sick to ruin and pain. The more of the "socialist" movement I see isn't socialist at all. It's centering on human needs versus corporate or government desires. If you examine the Consistent Life Ethic, you'll see an alignment of moral good, individual good, and societal good. Everyone wins.
Generation X, the Millenials, and Generation Z have been waiting to establish human greatness as the cornerstone of American life. I would argue that the focus on human needs creates the most freedom we can encounter. Look at your self in the mirror and ask yourself what you still need? I don't NEED anything more. I have love, food, (EXPENSIVE)healthcare, a home, and a career. Maybe now amid a global pandemic, concerns over the environment, and income disparity, we might shake the chains of modern enslavement free.
Our health should not be dependant on employment. Our future shouldn't be a gamble; it should build security. We are witness to a significant change that deserves its time.
Either we cultivated good ground, or we have been living in the gravel. Either you are good ground and taking deep roots in God's word, or you're among the weeds and becoming strangled.
If I hadn't paid attention to the scriptures for this 15th Sunday of ordinary time, I might be in the weeds. Perhaps I am still in the weeds. Or maybe we are rising above the weeds and taking over to make good earth?
I guess we will find out.