31 August, Wednesday — Building God’s Kingdom

Wednesday of Week 22 in Ordinary Time

1 Cor 3:1-9
Lk 4:38-44

We are fellow workers with God; you are God’s farm, God’s building.

My 5-year-old asked me about ‘living things’ this afternoon, because she is interested in everything that her older sister is learning in school. This evening, she told me that she wanted to do what God does — make living things. Can she? I told her no, because only God can create Life. All we can create are non-living things, either as an artist, an engineer, or something similar. This conversation made me think of the verses from John”’s gospel: I am the vine: you the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.  

God is the author and creator of Life. He also decided how Life and ‘living things’ would work — Natural Laws. What then, is our role when it comes to creation, seeing as we are also part of creation? Our role is to partake and cooperate with God’s work of life. From assisting in creating life, to allowing life to happen unimpeded, to nurture and protect life, and then finally, to see life through to the end with love and respect.

We are called to co-operate with God, the author of Life. Sharing in God’s work on His farm, planting and watering in order to nurture Life is hard work. Nurturing and caring for others is hard work. But a very vitally important kind of work. And it is disheartening to read about people whose vocations brought them to the nurturing professions, suffering from burnout.  

During the pandemic, we saw the overworked healthcare workers trying to salve and save lives, at the expense of their own health and families. We also saw, and are still seeing, teachers juggling too many responsibilities because they put in their hearts and souls for the young ones they nurture. It is not only them. The list goes on. The stay-at-home parents, the working parents, the grandparents who are supposed to be retired. They work so hard to the point of exhaustion, so the children and the family can be happy and thriving.  

Every single person, everyone and anyone who directly nurtures, or indirectly creates a safe and nurturing environment, is most definitely a co-worker of God. We are all building God’s kingdom. All of us deserve nurturing and all of us should be working on making that happen for one another. Just like the four friends who hauled their crippled friend up onto a rooftop whilst scaling the walls themselves, and then let him down through a hole in it just so he could be healed by Jesus, we too, are called to go the distance, even if it is hard.

One line from today’s reading struck me, because I thought it ridiculous. After Jesus had healed Simon’s mother-in-law, she immediately got up and prepared a meal. It is tradition that a meal be prepared for the Sabbath, but Simon’s mother-in-law had been too ill to do it. However, the moment she was cured, she leapt right to it, without stopping for a rest. Isn’t it doctors’ orders to rest, at least for a bit, after an illness? I know I needed plenty of rest even after I finally got rid of COVID. So how, and why, would someone simply hit the ground running the moment they were healed?

But then it hit me that God’s work is really working with Love. Love is at the heart of all we do as co-workers; or at least, it should be. God’s standard is love and sacrifice, self denial, dying to self. In contrast, the world’s standard is to seek compensation, a fair wage, quid pro quo. This is not to say that we should be working for nothing. This is to say that when partaking in God’s nurturing work of creation, we must be driven by love for others, not love for ourselves.  

It is relatively easy to help our families and our friends. But when it comes to strangers, we hesitate. Why should help, and why me? Is this a scam? Can we trust this person? I really liked the tale of the friends lowering one of them through a hole in the roof to meet and be healed by Jesus. It is quite a heartwarming, almost lighthearted story that shows their friendship. However, the tale of the Good Samaritan is entirely different. While I can certainly help a friend out, I’m not sure I would be able to help a stranger out, let alone someone I was supposed to hate. As he saved the man’s life, the Good Samaritan embodied love and co-operation in God’s work.  

We have been given God’s spirit, and it is alive in us. We cannot ignore it, and we have to see and listen to Him so we can fulfil our roles in building God’s Kingdom. We are in communion with Christ and with one another, and we need to then go out and continue building the Kingdom of God beyond the church gates. Like the Good Samaritan, we need to plant and water, tiring as it may be, so others may experience God’s love and life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Felicia Zou)

Prayer: Father, grant us the grace to partake fully in your work of creation. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done. 

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for all of the people who love us, protect us and nurture us.

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