Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Thought for Tuesday 26 July 2016

“Go to the ants!  Consider their ways and be wise.  Having no captain, overseer, or ruler, they provide their supplies in the summer, and gather their food in the harvest.  How long will you slumber?  When will you rise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep – so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.”  Proverbs 6:6-11

It may be easy enough to see that the Teacher is speaking of daily work, the kind of work by which we earn our own wages.  The integrity of the worker is measured by knowing what needs to be done and then going about doing it without having to be prodded or threatened.  The need for the work exists by the very fact that we are employed to do that necessary work.  Failure to do the work or being determined to be one who will not work unless threatened, the employer will soon realize the employee must be watched and managed constantly, sometimes even threatened before the work will be done.  Sooner or later, and probably sooner, and the employer will decide the worker is himself too much work; and the employer will find another who is more dependable and determined.

The same may be said of sanctification; that is, growing in faith and love, the fruits of which are mercy, justice, and compassion.  Knowing we become part of a community in our baptism, we should come to understand more about what happens when we are justified by The Lord.  We are not merely “saved” from the sins of our past; we are set free!  The chains have been broken, and we are thus enabled to live into the Covenant, the Promise of our Lord that better is always ahead of us. 

This justification, then, calls us to work and determination.  It isn’t that we can earn Divine Favor, for this Favor has already been revealed in Christ on the Cross and in our justification.  The work, the determination to do well comes to be understood that the well-being of the community we are baptized into depends on us all doing our own part.  Ultimately it is our task, our charge as a community to reveal the Glory of the Merciful One who calls us all to bigger and better things.  It is not work for its own sake.  Rather, it is a means to a glorious end.

This involves not only worship (that is, just going to church), but also Scripture study, fasting, receiving the Sacraments of the Church with one another, and ultimately making disciples who are equipped to make disciples themselves; teaching them to do the work necessary to sustain and strengthen the community of faith.  The “poverty” of spirit comes upon us almost without notice – until it is too late! – when we do not sustain our growth and, consequently, the growth of the community by encouraging one another.  Our justification in The Lord must never be considered so personal that it becomes so completely private as to be construed as pure selfishness and self-serving; because soon enough the community will suffer as a result.

Let us learn from the ants, then.  Let us understand that seeking the betterment of the community depends on each of us doing our own parts.  It is not the burden of one or another; it is a community privilege that brings forth opportunities we cannot begin to know or appreciate until they are revealed in due course.  And they will be revealed!  That is faith informed!  And no poverty of spirit shall come upon us.

The Lord is great, is He not?

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