Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 4, 2020

I know.  The world seems to be falling apart, right? People hate so easily; others that are different and deep down themselves and their lot in life, terrorism abounds despite our best efforts, planes unexpectedly crash into empty fields, our own government kills on foreign soil with impunity, airplanes carrying beloved basketball players and family friends slam into mountains in dense fog, princes of royalty become commoners and leave a life of luxury, we have earthquakes, global warming, and no longer sleeping volcanos erupting, not to mention Coronavirus and modern politics where Caucasus no longer caucus and only breeds ancient hatred, animosity, and division, and people go to church less because…well, why go? Look at the last list!

In the thirteenth century, St. Francis rebelled against a Catholic Church that had become fixated on its own pomp and hierarchy; he renounced worldly goods, and lived in a simple cave, where he found God in nature. He wrote and believed in a God revealed to him in figures such as ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, and Sister Water.’ St. Francis was entirely intuitive in a world that knew how not to be so. Later, Franciscan theologians gave mass to St. Francis’ holistic universe by tying it to scripture. This is lovingly found in a passage of the Letters to the Colossians, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” This, you see, is evidence that God is present in the natural world in ways we cannot – must not – understand in our human form. Otherwise, well, we would have no need of God, because we would be gods.

Father Richard Rohr, the seventy-six-year-old Franciscan Friar gave this presence of ‘God in all things’ a specific name: The Cosmic Christ! For Father Rohr, the Spirit that is embedded in—and makes up—everything in the universe, and Jesus is the embodied version of that Spirit that we can fall in love with and relate to. (Wow, I know, right?!)

In his book, Father Rohr describes the Cosmic Christ as a kind of mirror, in which we can see the form of all of creation. He writes, “The Christ mirror fully knows and loves us from all eternity and reflects that image back to us.”  

I wonder, how might the world look to us if we reflected the Christ back toward us and to those we meet in our journey? What if we did what we do every week at Saint Miriam and welcome everyone; the poor, the needy, the ill, the dying, the unwanted, the marginalized, and the disposed? What would happen of we welcomed the sojourner and the lost and the wicked, too? Or embraced the leper of today and even those you think not too highly of?

Maybe it isn’t the Church that is failing us after all, maybe it is us?

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