Christ in the wilderness considers the lilies
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
There is a theme of consolation running through our readings, it's not explicitly stated but it's there and may help us at a time when huge shifts seem to be taking place all over our world. People do feel uncertain; puzzled perhaps because virtues like honesty, truthfulness, generosity and kindness rarely feature in the success stories of our public figures, for powerful personalities are not noted for their tenderness to others.
Perhaps that's why Pope Francis catches imaginations as he has that touch of humbleness with others, people feel he reaches out and cares for them, even if they don't always like what he says or does. I'm sure you can find examples of public leaders who are honest and truthful, but ask yourself why you notice them. Is it because they stand out from their peers?
We tend to have a cynical attitude to our leaders, too often promises made become promises broken or completely forgotten. Aren't we all a bit hypocritical at times? Yet in all of life, God's voice speaks still, keeps on reminding us deep down that truth and justice will win out over lies and injustice. Paul consoles by reminding us that what is dark and hidden will eventually be revealed by the Lord, even those secret things, the 'motives of the heart'. (I Cor 4:5)
This is not the revelation of a prosecuting counsel or police investigation which points accusing fingers judging us 'guilty', this is the closeness of God who knows us more than we know ourselves, who is constant with us, never forgetting us, always remembering who we are, something deeply consoling for us. (Is 49:14-15) Jesus himself comforts us too, his continual refrain of 'don't be afraid, don't worry', is portrayed in that beautiful evocation of the lilies of the field, clothed in a glory greater than Solomon. God cares for them, how much more are we cared for?
We are tasked with bringing this comfort into others lives, we have our times of loss and grief, of loneliness and pain, when we hope the Lord sends his angels to minister to us through others. In our turn we are to be 'servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God' (I Cor 4:1) and our task is the seek out the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and make it known!
Fr Robin Gibbons is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for the Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Oxford