The season of autumn is not only a beautiful time of the year for the natural creation to show its brilliant colors, but also a time to slow down a bit and sit in awe of God’s presence.
Autumn is that time of the year when, on the one hand, things begin to settle into a routine within our lives after a summer of hustle and bustle On the other hand, it is a time for the animal world to begin the process of getting ready for winter by either storing enough food to last until next spring or to find a nice place to hibernate until the spring thaw opens up the earth for greater vegetation. The trees begin to show off their colors before they shed their clothing and get ready for the winter, which can be cold and cruel.
As we observe what is taking place within the natural world, our attention is drawn to another battle leading up to the time when we elect our national leaders for the next four years. Within the debates and in between, much will be heard and written about who has the best solution to what ails our nation and who can respond more adequately to the issues of the economy, jobs, the debt and the international crisis. Each of us will make a choice based on who we believe will bring about a more just society and a society that protects those basic values of life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
Determining the most important issue of the day will be an ongoing conversation. Many candidates state that they are pro-life. However, does their definition include a pro-life attitude that extends from conception to natural death? The pro-life issues of today include: being against abortion; being for pre-natal care; being for adequate health care; being against euthanasia; being against the death penalty; being for protection and care of the public; being for a sharing of resources, and being against hunger and homelessness. Not only do people have a right to be born, they also have a right to those things which are necessary to sustain human life after birth such as: housing, adequate education, health care and equal access to the basic necessities of life.
Our Catholic social teaching outlines and enumerates those basic rights, which every individual of every nation has a right to participate in and a right to share in equally because we are created in the image and likeness of the one God. However, we often get trapped into making distinctions among those whom we consider “deserving” or “undeserving” of these basic rights.
Returning to our original reflection, we see how there is a rhythm within our natural world. There is also a rhythm within the animal world, but it is more difficult to find a rhythm within the human world. While we continue to proclaim that all are equal, this has not always been played out within the laws and practices of the land. There are still occasions where discrimination is portrayed, where injustices are practiced, and where greed and jealousy continue to oppress the powerless. But unlike the animal world, which by and large survives on the principle of the “survival of the fittest,” the human world is meant to survive on the principle that we are responsible for one another. We are our “brother’s keeper.”
At this time of the year, while the natural creation is seemingly entering into its “dying” stage and the animal world is entering it’s “resting” stage, we of the human world are constantly being called into a greater “caring” stage as we move closer and closer to that kingdom where all of us will be invited to sit at the one banquet table of the Lord. The season of autumn is truly a season of reflection.
What is God demanding of us as we reflect upon the “signs of our times?”