We are all powerful beyond imagination. And this power that we possess, is the power of love, gentleness, patience, kindness, and compassion.
This is not a new idea. It is a concept that stretches back to the roots of Genesis, and we first see it when God gives Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve are called to be stewards of this created Earth, and by the grace of God they begin to do that which we too have the opportunity and power to do in each of our lives: co-creating this world alongside our creator. This idea of our calling to be co-creators with God in the shaping of our lives and the lives of those around us is not something that I happened upon by accident. It is a lesson that God has taught me in the silence and gentleness and unrest and noise of my own heart since the day I was born. However, since moving to the Farm last May, I have had the privilege and blessing of being in a place where we live this truth deeply. Nazareth Farm has allowed me to find more words to understand and express this truth.
Co-creation is not an action in and of itself though it may include actions. It is not words or feelings. It is a disposition of the heart towards the love and unity offered through, and found only in, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Co-creation is life itself, but it is a life particularly ordered for and to the greater glory of God. All of these words are things we hear at mass or recognize as “church-talk” in our day-to-day lives, and it is so easy to brush them aside…but to dive deeper reveals how practical and impactful this idea can be. Co-creation is making the Kingdom of God present here on Earth; making Jesus present in our words and deeds and love. It is the gentle encouragement of a volunteer who is unfamiliar with swinging a hammer. It is seeking forgiveness when we wrong another and offering forgiveness for the same.
Think of a moment from the past week, day, hour when you had an opportunity to speak life and love into the heart of another in the smallest of ways. Perhaps you could have affirmed someone or offered a smile to a stranger. Perhaps you could have refrained from cursing at something inconsequential, or maybe you could have taken an extra minute to be patient with a friend or family member who simply needed someone to be present in their life. Two minutes. Imagine how many times you could say the words “I love you” in two minutes.
This is the power we have, this is co-creation. When we turn our wills towards building the Kingdom here on Earth in our own lives, we participate with God in this ongoing mystery that we call Creation. And there is no better time to recognize this gift that we have than Lent. Lent is a time for turning back to God, for ordering ourselves wholly to His will and using prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as ways to remind ourselves and our communities that Jesus Christ is at the center of all that we do.
As we go through this week let us ponder this idea, that in Sunday’s Gospel Jesus speaks life back into a dead man, his friend Lazarus. We too can speak life back into suffering souls and have life spoken into ours if we will allow it. And we are called to be constant invitations to the love of Christ Jesus through how we live our lives for those around us. We can do this only when we allow God to fill us to overflow with His own grace and love.
And to encourage us in that endeavor I refer to Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation:
Although God lives in the souls of men and women who are unconscious of Him, how can I say that I have found Him and found myself in Him if I never know Him or think of Him, never take any interest in Him or seek Him or desire His presence in my soul? What good does it do to say a few formal prayers to Him and then turn away and give all my mind and all my will to created things, desiring only ends that fall short of Him?
[Lord] give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love.
John Buttner, current staff member at Nazareth Farm