This week’s lectionary, the schedule of scripture passages for the day, included the passage from Micah, above. I love that passage. I think about what it means to “do justice,” “to love kindness,” and “to walk humbly” with my God. Humility seems in very short supply today. As does “justice” and “kindness,” for that matter.
Thomas Merton could be talking about right now, even though he wrote these words in the 1960’s in New Seeds of Contemplation:
“We never see the one truth that would help us begin to solve our ethical and political problems: that we are all more or less wrong, that we are all at fault, all limited and obstructed by our mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggression and hypocrisy.”
Now there’s a definition of humility! And so I’ve been trying to remember that I am more or less wrong and certainly at fault, when I decide (even if I do it subconsciously) that if you aren’t with me you are against me. Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun, reminds us that “All the wars, all the hatred, all the ignorance in the world come out of being so invested in our opinions.”
But how to bridge that divide? Perhaps if I try to remember that most people are doing the best that they can, that they probably have very good reasons to see things exactly opposite from the way that I do. Perhaps I can try to remember that the people “on the other side” have probably made up their minds about me, too.
And so I pray the peace prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly, and may God grant us peace. Amen.
Connie Knapp is a Ruling Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown and a participant in the Commissioned Ruling Elders program of the Hudson River Presbytery.