I've been pondering Lent this week - most especially of the care for others and recognizing God's presence within everyone. Matt. 25: 31-46 tells us we will be judged on what we do and don't do for others. Jesus is pretty specific about it, too. Lately, I find myself more conscious of this than ever. Perhaps it has something to do with aging but frankly, I attribute my current deeply reflective turn of mind to my church community here; a church community that fosters prayer, adoration, education, and community in action for its members. For the first time, after a lifetime of multiple moves and being a member of many parishes, I am deeply experiencing Bible study and a love of my faith in a way that is deeply meaningful and personal.
So, how do we respond to Matthew's Gospel of the Lord? How far do we take His instructions? How do we recognize the difference between enabling and truly helping? Should we try to recognize this or is it only for us to provide the perceived need? Do you give the drug-addicted drugs? Do you give food to the obese never thinking about its value for their bodies? Do you pay a person not to work or ignore the over-indulgences of alcohol addiction and sex addiction? And what about social alienation? How do you help to find balance and stop self-abuse?
The answer is easy; listen to Christ's words. Unfortunately, the world around us makes it complicated. So, how do you reject worldly complications and actually help? Do you choose one way? Or, do you choose many ways? Where do you help? How do you help?
Each of us has a station in life but we don't have to stay there. It's only a starting place wherein we are open to accepting help, open to being aware of seeing the needs of others and act; understanding that movement from our starting place can be upward or downward. We can rise up or sink into the abyss, squandering life's possibilities. Movement is as much physical as it is spiritual. We can remain at a physical low while acting in a way that elevates us spiritually just as a person more well-placed can squander his gifts and be lost in a sea of selfishness and disdain or even fear.
We are given only one life to get it right but in that single lifetime, we have many opportunities. We can start out wrong but have countless chances to grow in the love of God by giving service to others. We can also start out well-placed but, in the end, fall into selfishness or despair and loss of hope.
For me, there are two simple keys. One is to recognize God's presence in my life and the lives of others. The other key is to act. And, it's not up to me to judge the value of my actions. That I will leave to God.
Taken outside of Wellington Station in Turlock, CA
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