SUNDAY’S READINGS | August 7, 2022
In mercy, the Lord looks down.
In the words of the Psalmist, “The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind. From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth. … Truly the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love” (Ps. 33:13-14, 18). The Lord casts a contemplative eye upon the whole creation and every creature singularly. We are, therefore, beloved images, radiant icons, unfailing treasures to the great, all-seeing, divine eye. “Love came down at Christmas” and before Christmas. From the moment of creation, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). We are seen, recognized, and loved beyond imagination and measure.
The Lord looks down, and we look up. “[The Lord] brought [Abram] outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And [Abram] believed the Lord, and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:5-6). To the eyes of faith, the future is a dark sky of innumerable possibilities, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is the stillness of being seen by love and looking into the deep space of love’s beating heart.
Looking up, looking beyond ourselves, we feel a wound awakened. A longing for another home pulls us toward an unknown and hopeful future. Being in the world but not of it, we set out like Abraham. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:8-10). The descendants of Abraham likewise felt themselves incessantly called to a new home. “They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. … [T]hey desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:13-14, 16).
We feel that we are “aliens and exiles” (1 Pet. 2:11) because God is calling us to new places, new possibilities, a new home, a new being. Jesus wants us to be prepared. He tells us to “be dressed for action and have your lamps lit” (Luke 12:35). He tells us to be alert, to be ready, “for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Luke 12:40). Indeed, the Son of Man is coming at every hour, at every moment, calling forth our love and response.
To know and love God is to go with him. Hearing the call of Christ, we leave everything and follow him. Some will make the journey toward Christ by putting one foot in front of the other in a great missionary quest or to a distant Mount Athos. Most, however, will make their journey while observing a vow of stability, a commitment to place, family, and community. Although staying in the same place, it is quite possible and necessary to feel the heart’s deep longing for a better county. The God who sees us will see us home.
Look It Up: The Collect
Think About It: We exist because we are seen. We go out of ourselves to think and do those things that are right.