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2023 Lenten Preaching Series 4: To Be Better Creatures in a World Severely Challenged

Sometimes the Bible seems very complicated even for those who have studied it. But even after all these years, we continue to proclaim it and listen to it and try and take into ourselves the eternal messages it offers us.

This week we may ask:

· Why do the Books of Samuel describe so many political rivalries, the failure of a king, the accession of his successor?

· Why does it look at the same reality from so many different and sometimes contradictory angles?

· Where is the Word of God amid all this?

One of the answers to these questions is that the biblical authors re-read the history of their people while looking for God’s presence in it. In this re-reading, they wanted to understand how God, despite appearances, was guiding his people or, conversely, how he was not behind this or that human project, for which only hardened hearts and deafness to the divine call were responsible.

A re-reading of history in faith allowed them to understand some events differently. The transition from tribal life to the monarchy occupies an important place in this story, with mixed views on the monarchy. This is where King David comes to the fore.

The Books of Samuel want to stress that David became king by the will of God. The ultimate explanation of his success is not his political or military skill. Rumors had circulated that perhaps he came to power by shedding innocent blood or by ruthlessness. These texts give the lie to such statements. David has not usurped the crown; it was given to him. The text tells us:

Not as man sees does God see,

because man sees the appearance

but the LORD looks into the heart.

David was a shepherd of sheep, but because of his good heart, David was chosen by God to be king. He was anointed king by the prophet Samuel in place of King Saul, who no longer obeyed God. But David did not become king until many years later when Saul died.

David was chosen because of his good heart. How is your heart? What lies underneath all that we can see about you? About one another?

While surely there are many responses, what are the marks of someone with a good heart?

1. Humor does not come at the expense of others. A good-hearted person has a sense of humor that lifts others up and doesn’t tear them down.

2. Generosity is a way of life. In big ways and small ways these people are glad to share their resources.

3. They give of their time. Because time is a most precious commodity, it speaks volumes when someone is willing to spend it with someone in need.

4. They make things smooth, not rough. Their kindness helps to calms anxiety, turn sadness into joy, and prevent annoyances from igniting.

5. Everyone is treated with respect and dignity. Watch how they treat the salesclerk, restaurant server, or taxi driver.

6. The person’s words and actions match. Good deeds emerge from a good heart.

7. Unselfishness prevails. The person values your wishes and opinions and is glad to serve you.

8. Good people see good in the world. Sure, daunting problems confront us every day. But there are far more positives than negatives—and good-hearted people dwell on what’s going right rather than what’s going wrong.

This Lent we have been reflecting on how to be better creatures in a world that’s severely challenged … how to better care for all of the beautiful creation that God has given to us to enjoy.

This week we are asked to think about how we can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Again, there are lots and lots of ways to accomplish this, so here are just a few:

· Instead of throwing away old clothes, donate them or use them to make items such as napkins and rugs,

· Recycle plastics, tetra packs, cardboard, foil, and electronic gadgets, instead of throwing them away,

· Buy used items instead of new ones,

· Choose to reduce the amount of waste you create by limiting buying things you don’t need.

Much like the ancient people, we too must continue to try and understand the will of God in our lives, in our parish, and in our world. Sometimes it’s not easy and I daresay that it’s a lifelong process.

Each of us this Lent and every day is called to try and discern the will of God in our lives …

- What is God asking of us here any now?

- How are we called to be his ambassadors?

- What does God want from us specifically with regard for our care of creation … his creation!

Whatever the answer you come up with, there is no doubt in my mind that we are all called to have a good heart in this discernment. Take some time this day and check your heart … and the hearts of those around you … for the heart of Jesus dwells therein!


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