Homily at the Blessing of the Animals Service
May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
When I first arrived at St. James’s I always found joy coming into the office and looking at a comic strip that was taped to the outside of Randy’s office door. It was from Doonesbury a couple of years ago and it showed a man who must have been very important, because he was dressed in a nice suit and tie. He had a pager on his belt, a cell phone to his ear, and he was in a big hurry to get somewhere fast.
Well while he was running through the park, the man saw a very interesting thing. A dog was lying on the ground with his back to the grass, all four paws in the air, while staring at the clear blue sky. So the man stopped. He thought the dog was being lazy and started yelling, “Hey now, don’t you know that you will never become a success just lying there on the ground all day.”
The dog didn’t flinch. Back to the grass, paws in the air, he just kept looking at the sky. This perplexed the man and he got even more impatient. He said, “In this world, you are judged by results. Deadlines have to be met. Papers must be filed. Progress waits for no one!”
Again the dog refused to move. So the man thought a bit and finally in a fit of self-realization or perhaps a “moment of Zen,” we find him in the last frame of the comic, stripped of his business suit. We see him lying down next to the dog, back to the grass, paws to the air, as if to say, “Ah this is the life…where have you been?”
In our gospel reading today, we see Jesus reminding his disciples to trust in the Lord. He knows the stresses of this world. He knows that there are blessings and concerns. There are people who go hungry. There are people sick and in need of healing. There are those who work to provide for their families or perhaps to make their children’s life a little bit easier than they found it to be.
All of these things in the past and present represent true aspects of our day to day lives. Jesus understands them and accepts them as such, but he poses a question.
Where is God in the midst of it or rather, where do you look for God in your time of joy or sorrow?
Today as we commemorate the Feast of St. Francis and bless all of these wonderful animals, I ask you to look at your pets and ask “Where is it that I see God in them and what can I learn from them?” Like the comic strip, I believe that animals have a keen understanding of what it is to live in the moment. Every minute is important and special. Their joy is renewed at an instant. They love intensely and they go about life as if every moment matters without concern of what will be.
Somewhere in human history, we forgot how to do that. We get so caught up with the realities of life that we allow those things to become the apple of our eye. As such, God is forgotten. He is replaced by the tasks at hand and the results we wish to come.
If, however, we lived in the moment, like the animals in our midst or the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, we would know that God is with us and everything will be okay. With God death is not an end! With God we will receive our daily bread! We need not worry about the problems of tomorrow because life has its own blessings and concerns right now!
What we must do, then, is respond as a people of faith by allowing God to live with you in that moment and trust in the Lord’s providence.
Now, before we move on, I want to ask a small favor from everyone. Close your eyes. Really close your eyes and listen to me. Don’t pay attention to the things your pets or children or others may do. Don’t think about the things that need to be done after the service. They will get done. Ask “Where is God in this moment?” Take some time to listen, feel, and, in silence, look for Him.