Weekly Scripture: Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
Look at the image above. This is a statue of one of my favorite saints of the Church, St. Francis of Assisi. Notice that he has a bird perched upon his shoulder. He is often depicted in such ways, either with animals or other elements of the created order. He is associated with the kind and tender care of the earth. We might be most familiar with him through his hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” in which he invites the whole creation to praise God and sing “Alleluia!” He calls upon brother sun and sister moon to join the water, wind, and earth – and all their inhabitants – to sing about the glories of God. Francis exhibits much of the gentleness and kindness, the goodness and compassion, that belong to God’s character and nature – all of which is witnessed to in our Scripture for this week.
So many have a harsh image of God, one who is purely judgmental and severe. We cannot ignore the realities of God’s holy and just judgments. However, we can neither ignore the gentle, compassionate mercies of God. God always offers mercy before judgment. In fact, our Scripture reminds us that God is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” When have you experienced the mercy and steadfast love of God? What were these experiences like for you?
Like a good, caring parent or a trusted friend, God bears patiently with our foibles and draws the best of who we are out of us. God sees beyond those things by which we judge ourselves and observes our heart and our intentions. If God were to look into your heart today, what would God see? God wants to share the divine heart with you. Take a moment and observe God’s heart as the Holy Spirit reveals that deep, deep loving-kindness of God to you.
One hallmark of St. Francis’s character was the gentle care of those parts of creation that were smaller and more helpless than he was. This is a reflection of the image of God that lived within Francis. After all, we read in our Scripture this week that “The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.” We are so small when we stand in the shadow of the LORD God – yet God sees us, notices our need, and responds in joyous care. Call out to God in your need today, no matter how big or how small it seems.
Finally, as God has been kind to us, ask God to fill you with the spiritual fruit of kindness for others. How might you show others the same patient kindness that you have received from God? We do not receive gifts of God’s good nature only for ourselves, but so that we might offer what we have been given to others.
Breath Prayer: LORD God, help us to be kind.
Music Credit: Frontier, Written by Matthew Wigton, Performed by Shimmer, Produced by Matt Wigton, Licensed via http://www.soundstripe.com.