Growing in Responsibility and Love

Often when we talk about the seasons of the church year, this Sunday is viewed as the beginning of a summer holiday. We’ve come through the six month cycle of seasons from Advent all the way to Trinity Sunday and we’ve entered the long “green time”. This often feels like a chance to relax, reflect, and rest. It’s a comfortable rhythm through the Sunday scripture readings and, other than a few major summer feast days—like John the Transfiguration, John the Baptist, and St Mary—it doesn’t have the same roller coaster feel that the Advent-to-Trinity calendar does. But we are set off this week, into that summer and fall rhythm, with a line-up of scripture readings and events in the world that seem to make it crystal clear that this time isn’t easier, it is work of a different kind.

We have been shown again and again over the past six months the core of the Gospel message: God’s radical love for all of creation and God’s desire that the many blessings of creation be shared with all people. Systems and structures that do not aid this work will be toppled, torn down, fade away, and disappear. And it is the promise of every baptized person that they will conform themselves every day a little more to the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ and, in so doing, be a part of this extraordinary change in the world. We are responsible for the promises we made at our baptisms and reaffirm again and again and again in our lives.

Responsibility is a heavy word. When I was a much smaller person, I was usually told to “be responsible” when an older person mean that I should do as I’d been told. Being obedient and being responsible aren’t quite the same thing. Obedience means following the rules and doing as one is told, certainly. Responsibility means doing as one has promised to do and being aware of and accountable for the consequences of one’s actions. When we talk about responsibility, we often leap to questions, just like people in scripture trying to understand the Gospel that Christ shares with them: Who is responsible for washing the dishes? Paying the rent? Paving the streets? Distributing vaccines? Who is responsible for children in schools? In residential schools? Who is responsible for my neighbour?
What happens when I haven’t lived up to my responsibility? This question has been asked all across Canada by thousands of people in thousands of ways over the last week and there is no easy answer to it. We, as a complex group of people who live in these lands, will be working at this for a very long time.

Baptismal responsibility means being accountable to God and our neighbour. It often means doing certain things, but also being humble enough to ask questions and to listen. This is our prayer with God and this is, hopefully, our conversation with our neighbour. “Make me more like Christ. How can I be a clearer window in the veil through which the glory of God shines?”

We’ve spent the last six months reviewing in great detail the exemplar of responsibility and love in Christian life: Jesus Christ. Now we are called to take on our responsibility as the baptized and to grow and shape ourselves to look more and more like that example each day. We are called to become the Body of Christ together.

Blessings to each of you and all of our neighbours.

Written for the Parish of Holy Trinity, Winnipeg.

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