A Future Not Our Own

Often, we work in good faith.

Not in some grand deity or splashy cosmic reward, but in the abstract hope that what we are doing will make this world better. Better for ourselves, better for the next generation, just…better.

Even if we don’t happen to work on the origins of the universe, the effort we put in helps us find meaning and at least a bit of understanding about our purpose.

There was some great science-nerd-payoff last week that reminded me of this great lesson.

The unexpected, magnificent flabbergasted joy of Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde doesn’t need to be explained – just shared. Shared to see one of the rare moments when things we believe in so deeply are made real.

Shared so we can more deeply share in Archbishop Oscar Romero’s words:

“It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a small fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about: We plant the seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing  that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects  far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense  of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.”

—Attributed to Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador (1917-1980), possibly original to Bishop Ken Untener

***

The Art of the Everyday – March 19-24: Clean Slate. I’m taking a mulligan on last week. It was rough.

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