After I took a photograph this morning, I was reminded immediately of the canon we sang last night in church after vespers. It’s called the Canon for Racial Reconciliation. One of the beautiful refrains of this canon is “Glory to God for all the flowers in His garden”. In looking at some of the flowers in the backyard, that verse came to my head and stuck there. I looked at these flowers, all open and brightly glorifying God with their cheerful faces. They were all gathered there like a choir singing together in harmony, all with their own voices, all with the own colors, all with their own personalities. Like symbols of the one human race in all its diversity raising their hands to God. As the bright sun shined down on them, on all of them equally. Some of them reached up all the way from the ground. Some of them hung and drooped in hanging flower baskets. Different shapes, different forms, but all of them offered equally from what the sun has to offer to them. We are called to remember that each of us, regardless of where we are from, what color our skin may happen to be, or how wealthy or poor we may be, is a unique, one of a kind, never to be repeated creation made in the image and likeness of God. We have been put on this earth not to hate, not to fight, not to destroy, not to kill either with our words or with our fists, but to glorify God. And in so doing, to love our neighbor, as it says in 1John “ 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother [or sister], such a person is a liar! If someone does not love the brother who can be seen, how can such a person [claim to] love God whom he has not seen? 21 Indeed, this is the commandment we have received from him: that the one who loves God should also love his brethren.” (1 Jn 4:20–21).
As we think about what is happening around us, let us resist the temptation to throw out condemnation in all directions. As the warm sun shines on all the flowers, some which don’t have enough nourishment may turn away, some dry up and wilt. While some grow ever higher and stronger. But the sun shines and gives its warmth and energy to all of them. Just the same, the Lord loves each and everyone of us. Some of us may respond differently, some quite negatively even turning away. And some of us will be filled with that love and grow in it and learn to radiate it and share it. Regardless of our response to God’s love, He still loves us all equally and offers that love to all of us. And He patiently waits for those who may have turned away, to turn back again, and rise up and shine with His glory. Pray for your neighbors, and pray for those you may consider as your enemies. This is challenging, but it is the way of Christ. As the Lord says in the Gospel according to Matthew: “43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you! Pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust. 46 And so, if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 48 Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:43–48).