In today’s Gospel Story (Lk 12:32-48) Jesus is telling his disciples, and us, to be alert because they/we do not know when he is coming into our lives. This is not a threat, but an encouragement for us to be open to and aware of what is going on around us, and it’s not all bad.
Every day we are surrounded by the wonders of creation. Creation, all of it wherever we encounter it, is God being God and telling us about Godself. The more we know about creation, the more insight we have into God. Recently the James Webb Space Telescope showed us new images of the vastness of creation, giving us the opportunity for yet more awareness of God being God. Everything around us, as well as each of us ourselves, is a reflection of God.
Thinking back to the beginnings of ur history we can see how our awareness of the universe has changed over the centuries, as it is continuing to do now. At different times we thought we had God all figured out, neatly organized, sorted, and boxed, and we are still doing it today. As we look at the various sciences, quantum physics, etc, we are coming to new and vastly different insights about nature, and perhaps, even about ourselves.
Creation is not just the background for God to do things. It is in fact God doing things, keeping all creation in being. One of our basic beliefs is that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God. In our attempts to categorize God for our own need to feel safe and in control, we have from time to time determined that some among us do not fit our idea of God’s image and so are in the wrong. We may go so far as to define them as enemies of God unfit to live as the rest of us do simply because of how they understand themselves or whom they love. We have decided that they are not in God’s image, and therefore must be kept out of whatever. It seems we feel that we need to protect God from God’s own creating.
Among the prevailing religious traditions there are many often contradictory varieties of views on this, most of which claim theirs is the only true and legitimate one, some going so far as to say any attempt to limit their using civil law to force their viewpoint on others is a violation of their freedom of religion rights.
In the Gospel Story Jesus encourages us to be alert to what is going on around us, ready to be surprised at the unexpected ways he is among us. Each one of us as we are reflects God in a way that no one else ever can. Together with God and the others in our life we are writing our own story. As we grow and take chances we come to know that God is not finished with us yet, that God is in us and we are in God. We may come to see this in the others in our life. The Spirit of God helps us to see what it means for us to live as God’s image and to be aware of others making the same journey as they, with God, write their own story. A friend of mine recently quoted a line from Lawrence of Arabia, “Nothing is written unless we write it.” While we are writing our story with God and the persons and creation around us, we cannot tell others that their story has to fit our expectations of them.
In other words, we don’t get to say who reflects God and who doesn’t. We are surrounded by people who have no idea of their relationship in God, some of whom are so hurt and angry that they wreak havoc wherever they go. Putin’s unjust war on Ukraine reflects this. Instead of judging and excluding folks who don’t fit our idea of who they bought to be and how they ought to live, as Jesus says, “You must also be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come”. These words are not a threat, but an encouragement to be open to the Spirit leading us to go beyond our comfort zone, take the chance of being surprised, and come to be aware of God happening all around and in us.
Every one of us as we are reflects God. If we cannot see others as God’s images because of how they live, our problem is not with them, our problem is with God. We don’t try to understand something in order to believe, we believe in order to understand. The same Spirit is in all of us, leading us, when we let her, to a greater awareness of the goodness of life and creation.