The readings today are on some level about building peaceful relationships–with yourself, the people you are with on the journey, your coworkers, your possessions, and the Holy One. The First Reading from Wisdom asks who can learn the counsel of God or discern what the Holy One desires. Our minds are not like the Creator’s and our plans will likely fail unless we learn what pleases the Lord. In the Gospel, we are told that we should settle on the terms of peace. This might be a wise thing to consider.
Paul, in the Second Reading, speaks of Onesimus, a beloved brother, once a slave, the possession of someone else. A human should never be a slave to anyone. Paul asks his community to welcome Onesimus as they would welcome him, freeing him from the bonds that used to hold him hostage. He is setting out the terms of peace with these words. In the Gospel,, Luke writes that before building a tower, one must first figure out if he has enough to complete the job so that he does not lay down a foundation and then foolishly realize he cannot build the entire project. We are to consider these issues wisely.
I have begun to declutter and downsize now that I am home for a few weeks. I realized while in Mexico that I might need some kind of a plan to do this with any wisdom and merit. There will be emotional baggage attached to my possessions. I heard the words at the end of the Gospel today and cringed a tad: So therefore, whoever of you does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciples. The possessions themselves are not what get me for the most part, it is the memories attached to them that do. This weekend I began reading old cards and letters that I have received over the decades. I loved writing and receiving hand-written letters. I have several from a thoughtful man I met while in Guatemala, where we built houses for Habitat for Humanity. In one correspondence, he quoted today’s Psalm (90): And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish for us the work of our hands. He had been asking me about my work and suggested that one day in heaven I would be able to see how much my care and compassion impacted each one of the students with whom I had been working. His letters were quite remarkable and rereading them this weekend, revealed again the beautiful essence of his heart. Unfortunately, we lost touch but I do pray that God has allowed the work of his hands and heart to prosper. This was a man who knew the Lord, and who like Onesimus did for Paul, had a part of my heart.
On this special day of the canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata, we have a model for new terms of peace. This woman who worked with the dying with respect, dignity and love showed us how to touch the untouchables. She picked up the cross Jesus mentions in the Gospel and carried it even in the darkness when she could not feel that Divine Presence once so near to her. Like Paul, she suffered her own imprisonment, but did so quietly and without stopping her ministry. She had discerned the will of God for her in her life at one point and never stopped serving despite the silence. She was saved by wisdom.
I pray that you may learn to build, knowing the full cost, settle on good terms of peace with your enemies, and have a few people in your life who own a piece of your heart. God will satisfy you in the morning if this is the case, and you will be saved by wisdom.
What in your life pleases the Lord?
Who has a piece of your heart?
Creator God, show me the terms of peace for living satisfied. May I always give you not only a piece but my entire heart. May I be saved by wisdom. Amen.