Act justly

It is difficult to live in a world with our increasing awareness of violence; world wars, oppression of women and children, the threat of terrorism. At times we feel hopeless, at other times angry, or at other times deeply saddened by the way human beings treat one another. The truth is, God is never absent in these situations and invites us to partner with Him in bringing justice and mercy to our world.

So how do we partner with God?

One way is to consider passages such as this one:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Michah 6:8

Think about words that jump out to you as you read… justlymercyhumbly. These are not just religious concepts, these words are an invitation. How can you approach people and situations in your life with the same mindset that Jesus would have if He were in your place? When we consider this, we not only become more aware of God’s pattern of offering undeserved forgiveness, we will gain the strength we need to live in a way that is more compassionate and merciful.

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folding laundry on the floor

how difficult it is a times to do small things with great faith! at this stage of life, teeming with young children and laundry, i have learned to be less active outside my home, and the daily tasks seem to taunt me from their unfinished state and remind me “YOU MUST KEEP WORKING”. yet in this work work work, i desire to be present to the One in which i have great faith.

i try to imagine that these are spiritual activities, in the same way that writing or teaching or working in the church or feeding the poor might be spiritual activities. it is like the verses in James that remind us that faith and work must have their cooperative relationship. faith, without works is worthless- yet, showing someone our works without great faith will be an exercise in busyness for busyness sake.

in this moment, at this quiet moment folding laundry on the floor, i see God see me. i see that in this tedious task there is a service to my family, a service to keep order and keep chaos at bay. God is a God of order, so God sees this as very good.

“The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”
-Thomas More

A Mature Disciple Serves

A mature disciple doesn’t calculate or make distinctions as to whether God is inside of a certain situation or not, whether a person seems worth it or not, whether a person is a Christian or not, or whether a person appears to be a good person or not, before reaching out in service. A mature disciple serves whoever is in need, independent of those considerations.

Ronald Rolheiser 1.4.09 Column Archive.

My sense of service exists in the relationships I can touch, feel, and continue long term. There is a family whose children attend our elementary school. They are by all standards a poor family living primarily off state assistance. Although the mother claims there is a father, I have never in two years seen him. The family is from Mexico and one child in the home is bilingual while the others are Spanish only speaking. Last year, one child was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. His younger sister was a classmate of my daughters and so we became aware of the situation and since then have involved ourselves as much as possible in the transportation and help with the other children. As the family does not own a car, the mother would come to school, pick up the daughter in kindergarten, get on a bus, and ride nearly 2 hours to get to a doctors appointment or to the hospital emergency room for her sick son. There are so many details and so many stories of our time together with this family. Very little is spoken since I speak little Spanish and the mother little English but I resonate with her. I know her mothers heart and the desperation she must feel at times watching her sons faltering health. It is very unlikely that this boy will survive. We see them every single day at least once. This situation, this caring for and investing in this family, it is simply the right thing to do. It is not a cause. It is not something to put on a resume. We don’t raise money for them, yet there are little things we have been able to do that ease their financial burden. More than that, we are part of each others community. These are important people in my children’s lives. My husband takes the daughter to school everyday. I help the daughter with homework even though she does not speak a word. I love this family and I love serving them in the small ways that we do. I love it because it is right and there is no recognition.

But is it enough?

What about all the movements, causes, and trips that others are joining? Are they more important because they affect more people? Because they are more organized and serve a greater good?

This week I continue my pursuit of truth and reality and a way to respond authentically. I long for a conversation that invites participation along with the heart of Jesus for the poor, the outcast, the abandoned, and the unwanted.

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I am fortunate to know many families who have made the courageous and compassionate decision to adopt children. One family in our neighborhood adopted three infants from three different families into their family of one 10-year-old girl. What made this process so endearing was the way the older daughter immediately referred to her newly welcomed additions as sisters. She would even say things like “ Don’t you think that Cristina looks like me?” To see these four girls walking down the street in front of our home always brought my four children running excitedly outside. At their young ages, they could not fully comprehend a process that would allow an only child and three children with no parents to become a full family. They could not fully understand the reality that these three babies were once abandoned and left without resources. Nevertheless, what they could understand was that this family lived in the same house, walked to school together, and had the same parents. They had a newly created identity called family.

I am always reminded when I think of adoption, that we have been saved into God’s extravagant family. We have been plucked out of an obscure future that was once without a future hope and given not only a Father, but also Brothers and Sisters! Even though we are born into particular families, our identity as followers of Christ makes us a part of a universal family. In this new family, we exhibit identifiable traits where we begin to resemble one another in the image of God. As we grow in God’s family, we see that this is just one of the mysterious ways that God saves us.