Flu – 1, Me – 0
Over this past week, the three of us in our house have fallen, one by one, into the clutches of the stomach flu, some version of the norovirus. As you well know, this is an extremely scrappy little virus, just burgeoning with life, desperately eager to replicate itself and to spread itself, happily leaving in its wake groaning people in pitiable collapse, unable despite all the cautionary and rigorous efforts to spray and wash and isolate and sterilize, to keep it at bay. So on it goes, romping and jack-hammering its way merrily through the hapless humanity it lives to make miserable, even if only for a day or so.
Please don’t think I am ignoring other epidemics and human cruelties far more tragic, and please pardon me if my move into Gospel reflection seems a mite trivial, but in this moment of blogging it is all that I – in my state of recent brutalization – can muster.
What if Love & Mercy were Contagious?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our Christian mission, our love and service in and through and for the love of Christ Jesus, converted the world to love and mercy in a manner so spunky and contagious? Sunday’s Gospel – “you are the light, you are the salt,” calls us into a remarkable contagion, sends us as messengers of a Gospel of salvation that is to be spread in words and works, naming grace for all, announcing God’s deep desire for enfolding and unfolding humanity in dignity and love and a Future of Peace beyond imagining.
Come Lord Jesus…
Christ’s conquering, in this case, is not a matter of felling unbelievers and purifying by fire as it spreads to the ends of the earth, though to our deep shame there were eras of Christianity like the crusades and the Inquisition for which we will always repent. While we yearn deeply for the realization of the Promised Reign and plead impatiently, “Come Lord Jesus” we know in faith that God has decided to approach the task through the mystery of Incarnation, a most inefficient process that by including us in the mix seems to bring divine contagion to a glacial crawl. So most of the time as we perceive it, our mission of discipleship hardly seems to be “going viral.”
But the staying power of Christianity is found in all the small and unremarkable words and actions, conversations and prayers which we the mostly-faithful share with others in our haphazard, imperfect day to day doings, all of them united and multiplied to contagion in the power of the immense Love who has brought the whole enterprise into being. While the effect of our Christian witness seems to pale before the enormity of evils that threaten humanity, the relentless passion of God is infinitely stronger and more enduring than any quick punch of a nasty virus, or the massive darkness of death-dealing human hatred. And despite the seeming paltriness of our believing and our witness, God keeps renewing us and sending us as salt and light. And we will never know exactly the power of our love and hope and joy as antidotes to the ravages of hate and despair. So with the writer of Ephesians, (3:20) we bow thankfully before the One “whose power at work in us can do infinitely more that we can ask or imagine.”