I believe that the scripture readings we hear this Sunday can be used as a self-guided reflection on who we are and who we might become as human beings. In the reading from the Book of Genesis, God first creates a human being and then begins to create other creatures. God asks the human being to give each creature their name. This implies that from the start God does not intend to be the only helper for human beings. God intends for human beings to join with other creatures so that the potential of all creation might be realized. The idea that our helpers must be other creatures and not God alone shows us to what extent God leaves us to our own resources, to what extent God expects us to honor our vocation as thinking human beings, to what extent we are to explore our own freedom, and to what extent we are to respect the boundaries of this freedom. But not just any creature is able to help us do this fully, it takes other human beings who are given the same human qualities and responsibilities. So how do we reach our full potential as human beings?
In his Collected Poems, the philosopher T.S. Eliot describes the process this way. “When we start out from home, no matter if we circle the globe, or have a world of experiences, or embrace a universe of ideas, we end up back at home—and this time we see it for the first time. If we have gone home, we know this is true. Same house, same fence, same tire swing. But now we see it through older more experienced eyes sharpened by success, dimmed by divorce, dulled by experience.”
For me, reaching our full potential is to be in right relationship with one another. Not as male or female, not as husband or wife, not as single or divorced, not as Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Unbeliever, not as American, Mexican, Chinese, African, or Indigenous, do we come to our full potential. We reach it through the basic qualities, of our individual humanity, the human experiences we share, and the future we envision.
This is why Jesus said to his disciples, “Let the children come to me for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Jesus is encouraging us to look at who we are and who we might become without any bias and without any hesitation.
Fr. Bob Kelly