We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love
Then they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
Ant they’ll know we are Christians by our love
Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Many people throughout our world have been following with great interest and hope, the saga of the 12 youngsters and their leader, who wandered into a cave and became trapped by a strong and deep river created during the Monsoon Season in Thailand recently. They spent most of two weeks, without good food, water or air; but they had hope. We watched as a nation gathered all of it’s resources to enact an escape which at times looked impossible. Others throughout the world, watched with prayer and hope. It seemed as if there was an powerful spirit focused on a life-giving mission. People cared!
A team of rescuers rushed to the scene, evaluating and planning, but determined to save these lives that were in peril. One of them died because of a lack of oxygen, but the rest did not give up and in fact became more determined. The world acted; in different ways, but in communion with the efforts of the people of Thailand. We acted as one; some in very direct and active ways, others through joining together with hope and a sense of unity. This story, played out in a deep cave in Thailand, speaks of what we are capable of. Often, we only see the negative – the death of hopes and dreams. We see the corruption and the darkness of our world. We get wrapped up in the dark-side or negative forces and forget that element of humanity that is filled with light and life. We forget at times what we can accomplish in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
As these 12 young men and their leader were helped out over a number of days, others were preparing to help them further in their recovery; medical personnel, their families, and a nation. I remember once upon a time, when an American President rallied the nation around a mission of space travel – a manned trip to the moon and back within 10 years. It seems that we were infused with the spirit of what was possible – in spite of the difficulties. But I also remember a nation rallied around this goal and accomplished it on time. Throughout history, humanity has met many challenges, experienced great pain and tribulation. These moments called us to look outside of ourselves – to see the world that was treasured and loved and demanded a common effort to find new meaning, a new source of life.
It seems that the Gospel message that we preach, teaches us to let go of our addiction to self and to open our eyes to see the pain and the wounds of the world. The Gospel tells us about a man who was willing to die for the sake of the beloved. Jesus is the personification of God – the face of the God of Creation, determined to lead his beloved out of Slavery to Freedom; to let go of our infatuation with our selves and our things and to see the refugees, those who flee from war and poverty, looking for hope and a new life. When we saw those boys in a cave, lacking the necessities of life, everyone was given a gift. When we see children snatched from their parents arms at the border, and herded off to anonymous sites by themselves. we are given a choice – a vision and an opportunity in our own nation.
The universe is filled with choices. Humanity has been given many gifts. One of these gifts is the gift of consciousness; of asking the questions of why?; the gift of freedom – the freedom to choose life or death – to be wrapped up in self and jealous of others and inflicting death on them. Or we have the freedom to choose to be life givers. The Gospel, teaches us that Jesus gave his life – in confronting power for the sake of the unwashed, the lepers, the rejects of society. Jesus became one with them and refused to accept the trappings and union with the power structure. But in this action, Jesus also showed us that in letting ourselves die for the sake of the other; to become one with the other; we find the resurrection to new life. Life overcomes death and the light overcomes the darkness. It is amazing what we can do when we make up our minds to do it; and when we gather to do it together. A community is comprised of individuals, acting together for the common good. This is the Sacrament that we celebrate together; the life that we share and in the sharing become one body and one blood.
I saw that story played out in Thailand this past week and I have seen it played out time and again when we come together and refuse to be scattered and isolated. It is in these moments when we choose death. Positive and Negative charges are required, but in balance for the ongoing creation of life. When we become static, we stink a bit and like a stagnant pond without life that shrinks up and dies. When we come together with a common mission to life – to be filled with dynamic energy – we advance life for generations to come. This is our call. We are called to let go of our infatuation with self and with things and to broaden our vision to see the grandeur of God in all that is and to be filled with gratitude. We begin to see beyond ourselves and to see that Spirit that does not die – that Spirit of Love that holds all things together.