Tuesday, August 16, 2005

lost coins

Yesterday at church, the homily was about the immense love and respect God has for each one of us. Yesterday was the feast of the Assumption of Mary - when, according to Catholic tradition, she was taken, body and soul, into heaven. The priest told us about how this was a sign of hope and a sign of God's great love for us - that God cares for each one of us so much, that He will bring even our bodies, the bodies which He also made, into heaven at the end of time. Our priest read a quote from C.S. Lewis saying that we have never met a "mere mortal."

I remembered the secretary at my undergraduate physics department. She was one of the most caring people I have ever met, but along with her nurturing, motherly nature came a great zeal for bringing all those she met to heaven with her. I have often heard her relating her dealings with people who were not Christian or were unsure about spirituality or religion. Each time she described even the tiniest opennness to faith on the part of the other person, it was clear how much joy she took in that little drop of grace that the person had opened himself to. How beautiful it always was to see her exclaiming over God's work in these people, like a woman rejoicing over a single coin that she had searched so carefully for.

It is easy to find this excitement silly. Can that one word or one tiny action really make a difference? I don't think that rejoicing over such a tiny change is something that comes naturally to humans - it certainly doesn't come naturally to me. To truly find joy in this requires a great humility. It requires the meekness of making God's priorities my priorities, and the patience to see that when I don't understand the value of the tiny coins in my life, they still have great worth in the eyes of God, so it is only right for me to rejoice with him.

I used to think of words like peace, patience, meekness, and hope as passive words. To live them out, I thought, you just need to sit and wait and dream. The more I see of the world, the more I see the presence of despair, arrogance, and strife, the more I realize that peace, patience, meekness, and hope are four of the most dynamic words I know, describing not a passivity, but an endless striving for God's kingdom on Earth. This kind of work cannot be done by our own strength. When it is, it turns to pacifism or sloth (two things that I am very good at). Instead, this work must be rooted in the knowledge of God's great love for us and for our world, that as He rejoices over the re-discovered coins of our lives, so should we rejoice over even the smallest ways that He works His will in the world.

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