Tending The Web
Thoughts on the First Readings – Joe Frankenfield
“Always be nice to a stranger and help him if he needs you because he may be Jesus in disguise,” my grandmother used to say. Her thinking seems quaint now. We bridle at the image of God sneaking around to trap us. Still, there’s an important truth hidden in my grandmother’s caution.
In our search for God, we’re chasing a mirage if we think that we can touch him directly. We find him in the people and world He is creating. Behind my grandmother’s prudence (and that of countless other grandmothers) lies the awareness that life, and indeed, all reality, is a web of interdependent being. Mistreat one part of the web and I mistreat the entire web – including the part that I am. God’s life is found in the web he creates even more than a parent’s life is found in the child he gives life or an artist’s in her painting or music.
In many, if not most, places around us folks generally agree with such a thought. If you ask them how often they consider the welfare of the whole web of life when they make their daily decisions, however, or how much they reflect on that web when they’re looking for an experience of God or check the needs of that web when they’re seeking God’s will for them, the answer is typically, “Rarely.”
Most of us are comfortable with the part of Jesus’ great commandment that tells us to love God above all things. We have a much harder time dealing with the part that tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That, of course, is the more difficult one because it’s measurable and, so, subject to evaluation. Then again, it’s the one where change for the better occurs – the one that demonstrates that we’ve actually come to love the Creator.