September 6, 2019
by Kyle Lierk
Creighton University's Campus Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 435

Collosians 1:15-20
Psalms 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5
Luke 5:33-39

Praying Ordinary Time

An invitation to make the
Online Retreat

Praying with the readings for today, I find myself sitting in my living room looking out our westward facing picture window as the light of day slowly brings the enveloping natural world into focus.  Squirrels flick their bushy tails inside silvery blue pines while blood red cardinals flit about singing their unmistakable songs.  Rabbits scurry and scatter as my dog makes another day’s worth of unsuccessful attempts to catch any of them, his face nonetheless aglow and his eyes bright with the pure joy of the chase.  A deep consolation wells up within me like an underground spring pushing its way through the crust of the earth’s surface.

For in him [Jesus] were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible...all things were created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  (COL 1:16a, 17)

The more time I spend bonding with nature, be it through this picture window, on sauntering daily walks with my wife or during nights spent sleeping under blankets of stars, the closer I feel to God.  This is a central feature in my spiritual practice.  In today’s first reading, St. Paul is inviting me to look even more closely at the features of creation in order to see the face of Christ.  

This is challenged by my urban existence that is filled with countless hours in front of a screen (I’m doing it right now!), running from this meeting to that, waiting at red lights or in traffic, responding to emails and any other myriad daily routines that put me more in touch with plastic, artificial light and high fructose corn syrup than I would prefer.  Thankfully, Jesus is calling me out (literally!).

In Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si:  On Care for Our Common Home, he echoes the line from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur” that warns “The soil is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod” when he writes, “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.”  (pt. 44)  I know this in my bones.  I feel it on my skin when it is dappled with sunlight.  I taste it on my tongue in fresh, summer produce.  My contact with Jesus is as close as these things and so much more.

The Society of Jesus has recently announced four Universal Apostolic Preferences which are meant to serve as wayward points or a horizon for the next ten years.  Listed among them is “caring for our common home.”  The Jesuits and those of us who work alongside them in mission are being invited to tend to the Body of Christ found in creation.  This is a theology and a teleology to which Paul was speaking in today’s first reading and that Pope Francis further teases out in Laudato Si:  “As Christians, we are also called ‘to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale.  It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet’.”  (pt. 9)

Today and every day I am both invited and challenged to see the invisible face of Christ in the very visible face of the other:  the parched, drought-ridden landscape; the mighty, melting glacier; the suffering seas; and the mass of migrants on the move because of it.  In tending to any of this, I am tending to “Christ Jesus...image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”  (COL 1:15)

As the dawning light calls me forth, I join Mary Oliver in praying:

Every morning I want to kneel down on the golden
cloth of the sand and say
some kind of musical thanks for
the world that is happening again—another day—
from the shawl of wind coming out of the
west to the firm green
flesh of the melon lately sliced open and
eaten, its chill and ample body
flavored with mercy.  I want
to be worthy—of what?  Glory?  Yes, unimaginable glory.
O Lord of melons, of mercy, though I am
not ready, nor worthy, I am climbing toward you.

(From “On Thy Wondrous Works I Will Meditate”)

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