Today is my birthday – a day that represents a whole year that was. And what a year it was: full of love, joys and blessings. For these, I am grateful and humbled. It is also a day that promises another full year of living. I may or may not complete it to make it to my next birthday. But it definitely holds the promise of yet more loving, more living and more laughing. For these prospects, I am hopeful and excited.
For today, Jesus reminds me through the Gospel reading of three deep life lessons I have learned and strived to live by.
First, everything there is is from God and is therefore holy and sacred. And He has given these to us as gift – unmerited and undeserved. We went to a concert last night. It was on a mountain top venue. After the concert, there was a sliver of the new moon and Jupiter and Mars seemed like talking to her. The night sky was liberally sprinkled with twinkling stars that usually faint down in the valley because of the bright city lights. It was a sacred and holy experience. It told me that I must reverence everything that is and everyone that lives; because when I stop and look close enough, I always see their Source and Creator. Respect and reverence for life and nature are so sorely lacking in our world today.
Second, all the great religions of the world have their own rendering of the golden rule. It is the karma principle. It is Christ’s command to love the neighbor as we love ourselves. Inside every human being is the seed of goodness that seeks to do good to others; for in doing so, we do good by ourselves. That seed is a spark of the Infinite Goodness planted in everyone of us. It is from the Power that brought all of us and everything around us into existence. Goodness and love seem to be so sorely lacking in our world today.
Third, for all the beauty and goodness and sacredness around and within us, life is a struggle. Life is hard. It is not at all easy. The easy answer is usually the wrong answer. The easy and well-beaten path is not the way to redemption or salvation. It is often the road that leads to damnation and perdition. A look at all the great empires of the world would show that their fall was always preceded by a time of easy living and even debauchery. But it is in the face of ruin and destruction that we eventually come to see and find the beauty around us. It is in confronting evil and violence that we eventually come to learn what authentic love truly means. It is in owning up to our frailties and limitations that we eventually come into the presence of the All-mighty and All-powerful God who created us.
God is awesome and marvelous. His ways are not our ways. But through His marvelous deeds, He has revealed and shown Himself to us, step by step, little by little. One star at a time until we see Him in the whole universe.
He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
~ Psalm 15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”
Matthew 7:6, 12-14