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Liturgy and Life

By Gertrude Rompré

02/15/2017

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 26, 2017

 

Isaiah 49:14-15
Psalm 62
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Matthew 6:24-34

 

The prayer that gathers us this week — the collect — is indeed a prayer for our troubled times. As we come together to celebrate liturgy, we pray: Grant us, O Lord, that the course of our world may be directed by your peaceful rule.

Imagine what the world would be like if it was directed by God’s peaceful rule! I invite you to take a few moments to envision such a place.

Stop . . . Breathe . . . Imagine . . .

In times like these it is important for us to stop and imagine what a peaceful world looks like. French philosopher Paul Ricoeur once wrote that “imagination is the power to open to new possibilities, to discover another way of seeing.” The gift of imagination enables us to see things anew. It is an essential building block of peace. Taking time to foster imagination is an act of faithful resistance to injustice.

Stop . . . Breathe . . . Imagine . . .

Imagine a world where everyone knows they are loved. Loved more than a mother cares for her unborn child, more than the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. These images help us to “see” something other than the sights and sounds of division and violence that bombard us. They transport us into a wider, deeper reality where God’s peaceful rule is enacted. These images nurture our souls and console us. They help us step out of our anxieties and envision a just world, a place where we live in right relationship with God and all of creation.

Stop . . . Breathe . . . Imagine . . .

Imagine a world where we are secure in God alone. The psalmist reminds us that God is our rock and our refuge. In times when building walls and closing borders are touted as ways to ensure our safety, we are reminded that our salvation comes from God. The gospel says it too. Security does not come from our own efforts (a.k.a. wealth), but from placing our trust in God. We are not safe when we go on the offensive — indeed, that sort of “safety” only breeds more violence. Rather, we are secure when we know that we are embraced by a faithful God who is with us no matter what life has in store. We are safe when we use this knowledge to courageously stand with each other instead of against each other.

Stop . . . Breathe . . . Imagine . . .

Imagine a world where, knowing that we are beloved and secure, we can reach out to others in compassion . . .

But, wait, that world exists in more than our imagination! We see examples of such care and compassion all around us. We see people choosing hospitality over hostility in our very own neighbourhoods. The night after the tragic shootings in Québec, for example, hundreds of people, from all walks of life, gathered at the local mosque to be in solidarity with their Muslim friends. Dozens of similar vigils were held across the country. Faith communities continue to work diligently to welcome refugees from every part of the planet. What we can imagine we can do!

Stop . . . Breathe . . . Imagine . . .

Taking the time to pause and imagine God’s peaceful rule allows us to recognize where that reign already exists. It invites us into those spaces of tender compassion and solidarity with those who are suffering. It leads us through troubled times, beyond our fears and anxiety, confident in God’s embrace.

Our imagination can be used to heighten our fears. We can conjure up all the worse-case scenarios and recall images of past hurts and horrors. Or, our imagination can be put in the service of peace, helping us envision and recognize what the reign of God looks like in the world today.

Stop . . . Breathe . . . Imagine . . .

In troubled times we have choices to make. We have to choose the world we will imagine. We have to choose the world that we will build!

Rompré is the director of Mission and Ministry at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.