No one asked for my opinion on the events in Ferguson, Missouri. I am not going of offer it. There’s more than enough of that going around. Believe me when I say that it’s tempting and I’ve considered it more than I should. But Robert Louis Stevenson once said “When the teeth are shut the tongue is at home.” Based upon what I’ve seen over the past twenty-four plus hours there are a lot of homeless tongues on the loose.
Instead I’m going to share what I read while praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the Adoration Convent of Christ the King chapel. One of the best parts about my recent change in employment has been the ability afforded me to visit the chapel of the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration, or “the pink sisters” as they are more affectionately known around these parts. With one child away at boot camp, a new business venture that launched successfully on Friday, and Thanksgiving and Advent a few days away, there is much to pray about and be thankful for. Yes, there is also much unrest occurring around us that also warrants our attention and our prayers.
But not my opinion.
So with Ferguson on my mind among other things I knelt in prayer while reading a meditation on Gifts, which I share below.
The meditation contains a call for our response more than once. It asks that we forward the gift we have received on to others. To mankind. To pass along our peace. While on my knees in that pew I decided to do precisely that and create this post.
And then God, as He always does, got in the last word.
After meditating on the gifts in my own life for awhile my thoughts turned to the civil unrest in our own country while I opened my breviary to pray the Office of Readings from today’s Liturgy of the Hours. As will happen, God answered my questions within the first reading from the psalter.
So I won’t offer my opinion on these things. God gave me His instead.
Our Greatest Gifts Are Not Visible
Lord, I want to thank You for the greatest gifts You have given us, and for making me aware of them. I have also discovered that Your greatest gifts cannot even be seen. They are invisible. How can you see faith, trust, forgiveness, or a soul, or eternity?
We often picture a gift as only something tangible, and how it fits into our world, our standard of living. It often has material value. We are in the realm of clothes and comfort, automobiles and television sets, vacations and money. And even if a gift is not something of material value, we place a value on it because of the sentiment attached—a photograph, or even a hug perhaps.
I guess all gifts do have some importance, Lord. And they all command some sort of response. If we accept a gift, isn’t there an obligation on our part to do something with it? If we accept the gift, doesn’t that require some sort of response or action on our part?
Your greatest gifts to us, Lord, seem beyond human understanding—the creation of a soul—a new life that has the capacity to reach paradise, to spend eternity with You. Trust, forgiveness, love. They are not tangible things. They can’t be handed over in a gift-wrapped package, or purchased at a store. The world cannot manufacture trust, nor pull love from a computer program. Your love and mercy for us cannot be perceived by our eyes, or handed to us in a box. Heaven cannot be purchased by anyone and then given to another as a gift. Our greatest emotions, our greatest joys, our faith and trust in You and Your love for us, are the most precious gifts we can obtain. They are not material, tangible things. They cannot be seen. All we see are the results. Cause and effect are not the same. We can see the results of love, forgiveness, mercy, trust, and most certainly, faith. But can we see the cause? Can we see the soul? The conscience? And yet, they are ours.
We have accepted those gifts, Lord. Doesn’t it require a response on our part? How do we respond for gifts that we could never acquire on our own, that are not earned or even deserved? How do we respond to the greatest gift ever given—Your dying that we might have eternal life? Yet, we have not seen You.
The gifts themselves cannot be seen. But the effects can. Can we not respond by showing the results of those gifts, Lord? By passing them on? By showing love and forgiveness? By showing You our faith and trust in You, and sharing it with others? Can we not extend peace to mankind? Can we not tell them where we got it?
From The Office of Readings for November 25, 2014 – The Liturgy of the Hours
Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not envy those who do evil:
for they wither quickly like grass
and fade like the green of the fields.
If you trust in the Lord and do good,
then you will live in the land and be secure.
If you find your delight in the Lord,
he will grant your heart’s desire.
Commit your life to the Lord,
trust in him and he will act,
so that your justice breaks forth like the light,
your cause like the noon-day sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait in patience;
do not fret at the man who prospers;
a man who makes evil plots
to bring down the needy and the poor.
Calm your anger and forget your rage;
do not fret, it only leads to evil.
For those who do evil shall perish;
the patient shall inherit the land.
A little longer—and the wicked shall have gone.
Look at his place, he is not there.
But the humble shall own the land
and enjoy the fullness of peace.
You proclaimed the poor to be blessed, Lord Jesus, for the kingdom of heaven is given to them. Fill us generously with your gifts. Teach us to put our trust in the Father and to seek his kingdom first of all rather than imitate the powerful and envy the rich. – Psalm-prayer, Office of Readings for Nov. 25.