Truth and action.

There was once a young and gifted woman who set herself the almost impossible task of setting up a printing press so that she could translate and distribute the Word of God to the people.  Yet such a job would require a great deal of money, and so, almost as soon as she had conceived the idea, she sold the few items that she possessed and went to live on the streets, begging for the money that she needed.
Raising the necessary funds took many years, for while there were a few who gave generously, most only gave a little, if anything at all. But gradually the money began to accumulate.  However, shortly before the plans for the printing press could be set in motion, a dreadful flood devastated a nearby town, destroying many people’s homes and livelihoods.
Without hesitation the woman used all the money she had gathered to feed the hungry and rebuild lost homes. Once the town began to recover, the woman silently went back to the streets in order to start all over again, collecting the money needed to translate the Word of God.
Many more years passed, with many cold winters that caused great suffering to the woman. Then, shortly before the target amount was reached, disaster struck again.
This time a deadly plague descended like a cloud over the city, stealing the lives of thousands.
By now the woman was herself tired and ill, yet without thought she spent the money she had collected on medicines and care for the sick and orphaned.
Then, once the shadow of the plague lifted, she again went onto the streets, driven by her desire to translate the Word of God.  Finally, shortly before her death, this woman gathered the money needed for the printing press and completed the project she had set herself many years before.
After she had passed away, it was rumored by some that she had actually spent her time making three translations of the Word, the first two being the most splendid of all…
… What language are you translating the Word into?
Our mandate is double-edged: “We should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another.” Does not the whole of the gospel hinge on that one word, “and”? Believe… AND love.
I don’t know about you, but this terrifies me. Not only do I have to do more than think the right things (hard enough) or say the right things (sometimes easier), but I have to live rightly, in truth.
And I don’t even get to decide what that truth is – it’s love. And it’s not up to me what that action is – it’s love. Given freely, radically, generously, as long as there’s need for it… love’s circumstances might be flexible, they are likely surprising, but the mandate itself is not a puzzle.
We can stop asking what the “right” thing to do is… Which cause is the best? Where can I be the most effective? What if our resources run out? What happens when it floods, or the plague comes, Or (have mercy) institutions fail usand we have to start over, from the foundations?
God’s pretty clear on this one. We keep loving. In truth, and action.
We silently went back to the streets in order to start all over again.
You’re not here to be effective or successful.
You,… I,… am here to be faithful to the Word made flesh.
Because what we believe is a fabulous mystery, that we’re commanded to bring about the Kingdom when it’s already here… that we’re to reveal it and that’s all we’re to do.

This goal is already fact, God’s fact, the fact of grace and promise. No gap divides what God says from what God does. God’s Word is God’s action. And it, God, is waiting for us to see him in ourselves, here all along…
Truth and action… called to live in such a way that the Way, Jesus’ way, is read in the very fabric of our relationships to one another, to our fellow human beings, to Creation.
The sacraments, too, as Augustine says, are the “visible word” of God. They are the Word, enacted… and when we receive them, when we claim them, when we are saying we’re ready to welcome Jesus in his many disguises, that our hearts and doors and arms are open, that we’re gonna live out being bread and juice, that we too are the Word enacted, lovingly revealed, truthfully shared with all the world, not just talking about it, not even just theologically reflecting on it, translating it into just more speech, more words… but living it.
Then, then, we’ve finally translated the glorious Word in truth and action.
May it be so for you, and for me, and for all the world. Amen.

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1 Comment »

  1. Nancy Day-Achauer Said:

    You are so right. It’s easier to focus our energies on right thinking and right speaking but living the Word is tough. Instead of asking ourselves if we are thinking, speaking, and believing “correctly” we should ask “How am I being the kingdom of God?” I believe that our faith journeys need to focus on the “being” part of the kingdom of God and that takes a lot of work that we don’t always want to do.


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