As I was driving down the road today, Sunday, it was a sunny peaceful day, as all days of rest should be, and I was following a convertible with a license plate that read “LF IS GD”. As I pulled up to the car at the stoplight, I looked at the driver and his companion carefully. They were the epitomy of life as a retired couple, in their early seventies, and the convertible symbolized freedom, a life worked and a life ready to be enjoyed. The license plate could have also read…Life is God…
I have been reading a book called “This Flowing Toward Me’ by Marilyn Lacey, RSM who has spent years working with refugees around the world. In it she talks about her work with them and how they are strangers in our country. I too, have worked with refugees for some years and I can relate. The first reading talks about an invisible God. Marilyn claims God is not recognizable by theologians who seek an ‘All-Powerful Being’, as this is a God who lives in ‘hiddenness’, seeking the lowest place. For her and for me, meeting these aliens represented a newfound intimacy of being drawn into ‘God’s strange and extravagant way of being’. People ask her (and I also ask myself) how can you continue to work with them year after year and not grow discouraged…we both answer, ‘how could encountering God face-to-face be disheartening’? !!
The gospel today talks about new wine not being appropriate for old wine skins. Some duties of faith are harder and more difficult than others, like new cloth and new wine, we are not all called to the same experiences of inviting in strangers. Some of the old is good, just like the license plate, life is good….and we can live that call. It is a lifetime process transforming our old wineskins into new ones. For some of us, life is God…we are called to open our tents like Abraham, who ran after the three angels to invite them into his tent, which was ‘open on all four sides’, a gracious image. Tent in Latin means ‘holy dwelling place of God on earth’ or tabernacle.
God is a blessing in strangers. He desires our hearts, fiercely, but wants us to connect with the whole human family, especially the poor and the outcast. Whether you are called to Omaha or Africa, welcome a stranger into your tent, it may become a tabernacle.
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