In this month of August sandwiched between the celebration of Emancipation and Independence and flavoured with the feelings associated with holidays, we are invited to pause to look a little more deeply at our nation state.
Happily spared the ravages of bad weather, so far, and the political and social upheavals that plague our neighbours, we ought to celebrate our privileged status. In the first place, we could practise the art of thankfulness. Ingratitude is a ‘sin of sorcery’, because when we fail to return thanks, we are setting ourselves up as the architects of our good fortune, making little gods out of our gifts of body and mind, ignoring the God, from Whom all good gifts flow.
We need to look at our responsibility to the persons and groups whose lack demands a response from us. The Fathers of the Church warn us that whatever we have in excess belongs, by right, to those who are in need. Not to give to them is to be guilty of theft, frightening thought!
While holidays may be the dominant flavour of the month, back-to-school is also a preoccupation of many families. Here is a practical and accessible way to return thanks for our own good fortune, and to come to the help of the future generations as parents confront the bookstores for books and school supplies.
And as we enjoy the benefits of our islands, we celebrate the transfiguration of our landscape after rain, the flowering trees, the accessible beaches and trails, all the benefits of Nature that we take as part of our birthright. In this month, let us remember and assume our responsibility for the care of the Earth, as Pope Francis so insistently reminds us.
It is a cause of shame that every year, we are confronted with the spectacle of flooding due to our carelessness and abuse of our environment. Clean-up campaigns should become unnecessary because each citizen assumes responsibility for the appropriate disposal of waste. We cannot claim First World status when we act without regard for our home.
And finally, ‘render to God the things that belong to God.’ We lament the loss of our moral compass and the resultant slide towards anarchy that we notice in our society. The only corrective is a return to reverence for God in our daily life. We have to obey the Commandment of love and the Ten Commandments so we can once again recognise the other person as a neighbour and see the radiance of God’s face reflected on every person and every aspect of Nature.
If only we could allow ourselves to see beyond the ordinary to the reality that hides in plain view we would experience a return to something like the harmony described at the dawn of creation. But we’re so afraid of one another and afraid to be taken for a ride that we prefer to hide.
Only Jesus risked being a Fool for God!