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Life: Luke 17
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For Listener Supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/2/2016 The 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 17:5-10
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Did you deserve to be born? What exactly did you do to deserve to be born? Did you create the heavens and the earth? No, no, you didn’t do that. Did you write a sonata before the Lord decided to form you in the womb? No, you couldn’t have. We could go through a whole list of amazing things that would seem deserving of life, but the fact is that life is not something that is deserved. We act as though we deserve it sometimes.
When we are short with our spouse or our children, we act like we are entitled to our life. When we are kind to someone we don’t we know, we act like we are all that, and life is better because we are here. When we tell someone to get something for us, or get frustrated with the Internet/Phone/Cable conglomerate representative who didn’t make the rules, but is stuck enforcing them for a living, we act like we are entitled to treat them badly. When we use the skills that God gave us to make a living we tend to act like using those skills makes the money we earn ours. When we have children, we act like we are entitled to have them do things for us because of our God given ability to procreate.
We often act entitled enough to say that others are acting entitled. Look, the rich and those who support them, often claim the poor and those who are angry about the disproportionate share of wealth in the world, act entitled. They do not see how the fact that they have money gives them the luxury of thinking others had the same opportunities that they did. The poor, and those who support them, often act like because of the injustices the poor endure, they are entitled to act out in violent protest. The fact of the matter is that whatever life you have, it is a gift, it is not an entitlement.
No matter how the cards are dealt in life; no matter how hard you have worked or your ideas have made you wealthy, no matter how rough life has been for you, you are not entitled to disregard another person’s life. If your life is so great, you should want others to have a life as good as yours. If your life is so bad, you should not want others to suffer like you do.
Your life is just as much a gift as anyone else’s. Your life, and life itself, are so precious that even the God of the Universe was willing to die for it. So, life should be treasured. It should be savored. It shouldn’t be trashed; thrown on the floor and trampled underfoot. Life is not to be used for cruelty. Life is to be used to give life and be life giving.
In celebration of the talents of life, I want to thank the maker of the electric cork screw. The inventor of the hammock deserves praise. The person who saw coffee beans and decided they might be good ground up and filtered with hot water, there is a genius. The inventors of the automobile deserve a shout out. The inventor of the chia pet, not so much, but maybe they deserve a nod or two. We usually celebrate those who invent things we consider important to our quality of life. Yet, how often do we stop and consider the One who created life itself?
Oh, sure, we drone through it every Sunday, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life…” Stop though and pause to feel yourself breath. How does that happen? How does the innervation of your brain, lungs, and body happen? Who starts that? Who keeps it going? Who deserves praise for giving us whatever life we have, however rich, however weak, however pathetic, however amazing?
As David Foster Wallace said the young fish asked the other, “What is water?” we often forget that we are swimming in life. It is not something we ought to go around congratulating ourselves about. Hey! Congrats. You are a live! Maybe we should. Maybe it would make us appreciate the life we have, rather than constantly torturing ourselves over the life we do not have. Maybe celebrating life would make us realize that others get cut and they bleed as much as we do. Maybe being thankful for the errands we run as acts of kindness for our parents, our children, our spouses, would help us be less irritated and irritating. Maybe our celebration of life would make us stop and realize that anyone who cuts us off and speeds up must be having a terrible day. Maybe our celebration of life as a gift to us, not an entitlement, would make us worship the Giver of Life with all our heart and admiration more. Maybe worship would be a gift, not a burden, or inconvenience. Maybe an act of kindness would be a gift, not an expectation of a reciprocal act. The kindness and the goodness we would give each other as gifts of life would flow without any expectation of acknowledgement, expectation of tit for tat, or expectation that our needs be considered over others, or any expectation at all.
This is what Jesus is saying in this Gospel. Your life was given to you to live in service to God and service to others. That is a grand purpose in and of itself. The fact that you are given life is the reward. Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian