We are called to love each other, even the stranger and the enemy.
We are called to pay particular attention to the most vulnerable among us.
We are called to a vision of heaven — the one in the here and now and the one that we can hardly imagine in the future — in which the most unlikely creatures get along.
All of this leads to a highly amorphous understanding of who is “us” and who is “them.” As a matter of fact, the Good News seems to place explosives right at the base of any boundaries we might construct.
All of this also reinforces my fundamental belief in the common good. We are all in this together. If we work together, we can solve problems. When others are in need, we can respond.
In the wake of multiple natural disasters in the last few months, I have seen this impulse to respond to the needs of others shine. Neighbors rescuing neighbors, folks taking in the displaced, people donating money and lifting up prayers. I know we have this in us, as part of our national and international character, and that it transcends divisions that might have existed the day before a really bad thing happened.
We understand that when one suffers, we all suffer. When one rejoices, we all rejoice.
Unfortunately, the belief in the common good doesn’t always “rule.” We do construct boundaries, we do draw in the circle of our concern, we do define “us” and “them” and sometimes we have good reasons for this. Some would say that their safety and security depends on it.
As the human beings that we are, I would expect us to both succeed and fail at the difficult work of upholding the common good. But I do believe we are capable of it, even in times of “not-a-disaster.”
Thank God for God, who holds us to this difficult task and also understands our limitations in pulling it off. Thank God for God, who can handle enormity. Thank God for God, who will comfort the fear that makes us small-minded and protective rather than open-hearted and disarmed.
With God’s help we will rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done in both the good times and the bad.