Ordinary Time, 11th Sunday (B)

A good gardener knows each plant. Each one is special and precious and receives what it needs -- a sunny view, or shade, a lot of water, or a little, etc. God is a good gardener and we are each plants. We are each precious and unique and special to God. And yet, as Blessed Carlos Acutis said, "Each of us is born unique. But many of us die as photocopies." We have all tried to make ourselves like someone else. We idolized people that weren't happy and criticized ourselves for being different.

You try to be like others because you were taught in school that you exist because of random chance and survival of the fittest. We think that our existence is an accident, that we have no inherent value. We treat like like a game of "survivor" and the least popular kids will get voted off the island. Instead of celebrating who I am, I feel that I'm not enough, and if I don't find a way to be more, I'll soon be eliminated.

The truth is, the animal kingdom doesn't play by the rules of evolutionists. Each unique plant places a special role in the lives of the other plants and animals. They support each other and balance one another out. Problems happen when we move a foreign species into an ecosystem where it doesn't have a niche and it becomes an invasive species. Most extinctions are caused not by survival of the fittest but by human activity. Nature carefully conserves millions of unique species and balances them with each other.

"We walk by faith and not by sight," says our second reading. And that means we need to have faith in God's goodness. We also need to have faith in our own value. Baptism not only wipes away original sin and makes a child Catholic. It also means you are adopted as a beloved child of God, incorporated as a unique part of the Body of Christ, and made a precious temple of the Holy Spirit. Imagine how your life would look different if you lived these truths each day?

When we start living for ourselves and trying to survive, we become like weeds instead of productive plants. Don't try to be a photocopy of someone else. Be the beautiful plant that you were made to be. By being yourself, you will help others thrive and grow.

(13 June 2021)

Going Deeper: Go for a walk in a botanical garden or flower bed and marvel at the varieties you see there. Try to find one way to affirm the unique dignity of each of the people in your life.