Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam @ Saint Miriam: October 26, 2020

Today is the anniversary of my becoming a deacon. I have been thinking a lot of what I tell those who come to seeking ordination, especially those who seek a higher office. I remind them what I was once told by my mentor, Father Kyder:  No matter what office God brings you to, you must always be a good deacon.

He was right. The servant heart is the heart of every deacon, every priest, and every bishop. When it becomes about the title or the robes or the fancy trims or the titles and the regalia, or the length of their phylacteries, everyone loses. We lose. God loses. And, most sadly, the people who need us, they lose, too.

There isn’t much in the world left where people look out for the outsider, the downtrodden, the marginalized before they look after themselves. It is fast becoming a me-me-only-and-first world. No, servant hearts are few and far between. The streets are littered with the helpless, the hapless, and the homeless while so many of us residing places high enough to only see the tops of their heads, as we look down our noses upon them and blame them for their own lot in life. We won’t welcome them. We won’t open our homes to them or even our churches. We proclaim so easily that we are a place for the sick, but the truly ill are turned away. We won’t even give from our plenty to programs of outreach and at least support those who are willing to go out to the streets and live the gospel. No, we hoard for ourselves and let others – no matter how needy – seek their own way.

How, then, can we find a servant heart, especially among those who wear their pressed, starch-white collar so tightly around their neck, but fail to live the message they agreed to at ordination? How do we teach a servant heart is the true heart of the living gospel and that every Christian must live it, or lose the title they say so covet?

Father Ricard Rohr, noted American author, spiritual writer, and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, says that “What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out (no matter who wins the US election, or who takes a seat on the Supreme Court). We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison. This place, this world, is not our home. We must remember that…

God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from “the Falconer.”
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.

Are you willing to offer that womb? Can you let go of fear and hatred and instead be a servant and find a heart for others? Can you let go of at least one part of this ugly world, to find the beauty in someone lesser? St. Francis once said, Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love. Do we? Can we? How?

Once there was a boy so meek and so modest he was awarded the Most Humble badge. The next day, it was taken away because he wore it. So endth the lesson.

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