Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets with Jesus himself as capstone. Through him, the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord. In him you are also being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
The language of faith equips us for the struggle against the objective cynicism of our situation. It does not merely repeat what was; it does not merely reflect what is; it opens and changes. We learn to understand our lives as a struggle against the prevailing cynicism. We understand ourselves in unity with Christ as part of the Kingdom-of-God movement for righteousness. We will be involved in conflicts. It is no longer enough to be personally decent and inoffensive. It never was enough, incidentally.
Excerpted from the reflection from 03 July, 2018 in Give Us this Day.
Originally appearing in her book Choosing Life.
I read both of these readings this morning, the morning of one of my favorite feast days—the feast of Saint Thomas the “I think differently.” I will forever contend that he gets a bad rap when referred to as The Doubter. In my book, he simply needed the information delivered in a different way.
I reflected on Thomas, as it is his feast day…And, I also read this in light of a news story I saw on CBC last night. Toronto has opened the first Hospice for those who are homeless. The doctor who began it spoke with beautiful heart. “We may live differently, but we all die the same death.” He spoke of wanting the Hospice to offer respite, beauty, and a sense of place, of home, so that homeless people might be surrounded with this experience as they die.
They interviewed the first resident, Pandora, 27 years old, as she met with the doctor before moving in. You saw photos of the toll that a life of hard living takes on a person. You heard a story of choices made, abuse suffered, addictions that overwhelmed, and a final illness that counted her days in wispy breaths. She moved into the Hospice. Pandora died two days later, in a place of security, a room, the doctor said, that she claimed as her home.
I knew someone not unlike Pandora. He too struggled (and mostly lost)
against prevailing cynicism and needed information delivered in ways that would make sense for him. Forget common sense or taking it on faith. Faith required a vision he did not have. A vision past, a vision beyond, that can imagine that the structure will hold together and have room enough for him.
The doctor on CBC didn’t use Dorothy Soelle’s ‘language of faith,’ but Jesus did. And when Jesus did use the language and the actions of faith, of compassion, Thomas received what he needed and joined the household of God. “My Lord and my God!”
It didn’t surprise me that Pandora died two days after coming to hospice. She could let go in safety, she could relax in that dwelling place of God’s spirit. In the language of faith, the cynicism of life on the street gave way to a deeper vision of freedom.
The man that I knew also died two days after being put on hospice-care. His hard-living was done. He gained the freedom he spent a long time trying to find while coming at the world more differently than anyone I’ve known.
May we all receive such people as Jesus did and take the time to learn how to offer our own hands, actions, listening, compassion, so that all might enter in and find shelter against the prevailing cynicism of our time.