There is no Us and Them. There’s only Us and God. That’s one of the lessons of the Bible. Another is that God shows us the way to live, and it’s up to us to follow that way. It’s our job as human beings and our calling.
“I come to gather nations of every language,” the Lord says (Isaiah 66:18). The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (12:7) says, “God treats you as sons [and daughters].”
Part of the role of a parent is to instruct and train children, and the writer of Hebrews describes this as “discipline,” something that is painful in the moment but later “brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” (12:11)
Another way to think of this is to realize that Christianity is not an easy faith. We are not called to self-satisfaction. We are called to recognize that we fail, we sin, we are imperfect.
In multitudinous ways — through the beauty of the world and the example of good people and the whisperings of our conscience — the Lord shows us how we need to live better and what we need to do to have as full a life as possible, a life in tune with the deep yearnings of our spirit for connection with God and with each other.
“Who am I to judge?” Pope Francis said. It is a reminder to all of us that we are here to serve each other, not to pump ourselves up.
Giving in to selfishness, giving in to pride and arrogance, will only bring us “wailing and grinding of teeth.” That’s the message of Jesus in Luke’s gospel (13:28) for those who seek dominance and for those who feel complacent.
Jesus says (Luke 13-29-30):
“And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
“For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Patrick T. Reardon