Love Covers All

When we read this passage from the 10th Chapter of Proverbs, it may at first seem unremarkable.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
    but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
    but love covers over all wrongs.

from Proverbs, Chapter 10

Those wise, clear exhortations to treat our fellows with courtesy and respect are timeless. The exhortations to let love be our guiding principle in all things.

These words of wisdom are common to all cultures and all religions. All spiritual paths.

As verse 12 wraps up, the clear emphasis is on love and how love can cover over all wrongs.

Just in case a reader may think that Solomon had been imbibing too much of the fruit of the vine and had gone all hippy on us, there are, of course, hundreds–if not thousands–of passages from the Bible that put over that very same idea.

And from the literature and sacred books of a thousand religions and cultures.

The common folk saying found below is an almost word-for-word paraphrase of the familiar Wisdom we read in Matthew chapter 7, verse 12:

Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Common folk saying

It is hard, at times, to understand why so many of us are in such great need of being reminded of these things.

The reminders, the exhortations, come from a thousand voices, heard at every turn as we walk along life’s path.

And often we aren’t listening.

I’m not. You’re not. He’s not. She’s not. They’re not.

Listen to those voices.

Heed them.

Let love be your touchstone, your all-in-all.

Brother Ben

© The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Not Here, Not Now

More than two millennia ago, the writer of Proverbs had this to say:

Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
    I open my lips to speak what is right.
My mouth speaks what is true,
    for my lips detest wickedness.
All the words of my mouth are just;
    none of them is crooked or perverse.

Proverbs 8: 6-8, italics mine

Let’s take a closer look at verse 8. In the text, Wisdom is speaking, and says this about the words she utters: “none of them is crooked or perverse.”

What a wonderful thing it would be if we — in these troubling times — could say the same thing when we hear or read of things our leaders have said!

We hear a lot of spin, evasions and outright falsehoods virtually anytime we listen to, read or view the news these days.

The lies we’re hearing are pervasive. They’re deliberate. And they’re causing untold harm.

We might wonder how long this tragic state of affairs will go on.

I don’t know.

But I do know that it’s imperative that we recommit ourselves to speaking the truth. To recoil from deception and lies.

And to refuse to accept lying and deceit from those who hold positions of power and authority in this pivotal time in which we live.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

National Arbor Day 2020

Yes, it’s National Arbor Day today. But with most of America — and the world, for that matter — staying close to home, celebrating this auspicious day is just a bit different this time.

My celebration of the day this year includes two things. Small things, but things which nevertheless help the cause.

I just made a donation to the National Arbor Day Foundation. This is something I look forward to doing each year.

If you would like to do that today, follow this link.

I’m also going to use today’s hashtag on my twitter account. And that is: #ArborDayAtHome. When you use that tag, the Foundation will plant a tree for your gesture of support and good will. Up to 50,000 trees.

That’s a wonderful thing.

One more thought: if you’d like to take a look at the blog for the National A.D. Foundation, go right here.

Yours in the spirit of Arbor Day, I am,

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

What next? Bill Gates has some thoughts

Like so many of us, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last few weeks wondering how our current devastating health crisis is going to affect our lives going forward. 

Our lives and our collective life, together, on this planet.

I just came across an article laying out some of  Bill Gate’s thoughts about where we might be heading and it sounded very plausible to me.

I’ve always respected Bill Gates for his obvious business acumen and the visionary way he led Microsoft in its formative period.  

And I certainly laud Bill and Melinda for taking a wide world view and for their extraordinary philanthropy.

I think his thoughts about the COVID-19 crisis here deserve a very wide reading and I recommend this article for anyone who’d like to read some cogent and well-informed thoughts on where we might be heading.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Looking for Lost Apples

Because caring for the Earth and all living things is one of our great priorities at the FSF, we’re happy to pass along this interesting and relevant story:

Did you know that there was a group of dedicated botanists and nature nuts who spend a lot of time scouring the American northwest looking for lost apples?

There most certainly is. I just found out about these folks and the work of the Lost Apple Project by reading an article I found in social media; it’s the most interesting thing I’ve found on the net in quite a while.

It was from reading that article that I learned that North America once had around 17,000 named varieties of apples and that botanists believe that all but around 4,500 had disappeared.

And folks who work with the non-profit Lost Apple Project have been trying to find, identify and preserve as many of those lost varieties as possible.

It came as very welcome news that they’ve had quite a bit of success this year; the article mentioned that they’ve come across at least ten varieties this season that were previously thought to have been lost.

Because of our firm commitment to caring for the Earth, the news about the L.A.P. and the success it’s had this year was most welcome. You might say that the Project is having a very fruitful year in 2020.

To read the article in its entirety, follow this link.

And here’s a link to the Facebook page for the Lost Apple Project.

Brother Ben

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

Our Blessed Hope

I most certainly do want to wish all of you a most happy and blessed Easter today.

I don’t have to tell you that our joyous celebration is taking place this year in a most unusual set of circumstances.

Most of us could not gather with fellow Christians in the usual way to celebrate.

The spectre of a deadly and virulent virus stalking our world and our communities has cast a pall over what is typically the most joy-filled time of the entire Church year.

But even in these troubling times, this we know: the hope and transcendent glory of Christ’s resurrection was a stunning, singular event on that first Easter morning and we can feel and appropriate that glory, that blessed hope today just as surely as Jesus’s followers and grief-wracked mother did nearly two millennia ago.

May that blessed hope be yours today.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

War and Acts of Compassion

As is true for so many of us, the coronavirus crisis has had huge effects on how I live my life day-to-day.

Yes, I’ve got a day job and — like so many others — I’ve been furloughed by my employer for the time being.

And so I’ve been spending even more time than usual looking through my reading collection and all over the net for good things to read.

This piece I found today is about a German WW II veteran’s experience when an American medic risked his life — going behind German lines — to treat their wounded.

Reading stories like this one often touch me deeply and remind me that — although people often do terrible things to each other — we are also capable of acts of great love and compassion.

I’ll go so far as to say that St Francis would have loved reading this surprising story. It’s well-worth the next few minutes of your day.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Some Love on World Health Day

The 7th of April is World Health Day each year. It’s always a good time to show appreciation to our health care professionals, of course. But that seems all the more appropriate now that COVID-19 is ravaging our world.

Nurses have been there for me in a big way the four times I’ve been hospitalized. One of those involved major surgery and — although that was a very big deal — the care I received from nurses, doctors and techs made a tough situation bearable.

I’m thinking that most of the folks who may read this could say something similar.

I know that many of us have been watching more news than usual while we’re in the middle of this crisis. I certainly have.

It’s striking to me that many in the field — nurses especially — are literally laying their lives on the line to care for their patients.

If you know a nurse — or anyone in the health care field — now would be a good time to show your appreciation for all they do.

A good time to tell them of your appreciation.

A good time to possibly bring over a meal, to watch some children while Mom or Dad is putting in insane hours to care for us.

Especially if they’re living apart from family members now in order to lower the risk of inadvertently endangering their loved ones’ health.

There are so many in that work dealing with a lot of really, really big challenges right now.

I’m so grateful today for our health care professionals. And I’m most certainly going to make it a point to speak those words of appreciation whenever I can.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

A Week of Destiny

Today is Palm Sunday and Churches in every corner of the globe will be full of worshipers thinking about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the back of that colt and being heralded and praised by a multitude of followers.

Churches here in the Eastern Time Zone are starting to fill with folks of all ages, with families dressed in their “Sunday best”, ready to commemorate and relive that ride and that day.

When this celebration comes each year, we see ourselves as a follower of the Master, as one who may have been there for the actual event.

This is as it should be.

But what was it like for Jesus?

What thoughts were going through his mind as that day unfolded?

None of us knows the particulars, of course, but there’s little doubt in my mind that destiny — or his thoughts around it — cast a long shadow over the events of that day, over what has been known for centuries as the Triumphal Entry.

As we go through all the events of Holy Week, it’s a good thing to keep in mind that the thanks and accolades that others may bestow on us from time to time can be wonderful.

But for most of us — as was true for Jesus — those accolades don’t always last and our lives will most likely not be a joyous and unending festival of gratitude and praise.

For some, a darker destiny may await.

Jesus said that no servant is greater than his master and when one makes a conscious choice to follow in Jesus’s footsteps — to live a life of service for others — there will most certainly be a cross to bear.

It’s certainly true that most people go through life acting mostly on instinct. Mostly doing what furthers their own interests and — at the end of the day — maximizes the chance that they’ll live, thrive and survive, as that saying goes.

Jesus, of course, is our ultimate example of a person who saw himself in a very different way. And he knew that his destiny was a life lived for others.

May we follow his example. May we always remember that, first and foremost, we choose a life lived — not for selfish reasons alone — but for others.

And may that be our focus throughout the events of Holy Week. And always.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

This homily was originally published on April 14, 2019

Sell Everything and Follow Me

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

Mark 10:17-23 NRSV

We have come to an unexpected and very unusual place in the history of humanity. So many of us are very apprehensive about our futures and about our collective future.

That’s putting it mildly. It might be closer to the mark to say that many of us are terrified of what the future may bring.

Many experts and prognosticators have been warning of hard economic times coming. Some of the warning signs began to flash even before the crisis posed by the coronavirus came around.

And now that so many of us are staying at home, and most work and economic activity has ground to a halt, there is almost no possibility that a serious recession can be avoided.

Many who make their livings by studying such things say that we’re not headed into a recession, but that it will be a full-blown depression, the like of which we haven’t seen since October of 1929.

The story recounted here in Mark 10 can be instructive for us today. The Master plainly tells this 1st Century high-roller that his great wealth is an impediment to his ever entering God’s Kingdom.

We have been living in a time when people with great wealth — people who’ve amassed a lot of stuff — are greatly admired.

We write and read stories about them and may wish that we could get into that elite club.

Sometimes, we give them their own reality shows.

But — as was true in 1st Century Palestine — there are so many of our elites who are sitting on huge piles of cash today but are stunningly spiritually-impoverished.

Although we can’t know exactly how events will play out as this crisis unfolds, I have no doubt that many people who have been at the top of the pyramid, so to speak, are going see a lot of their wealth — and the power and influence that usually come with it — disappear.

And we’ll be reminded once again that great riches and prestige and all of that do not enrich us spiritually; that they are — for so many of us — great burdens we carry through life, burdens that may well keep us from entering into God’s Kingdom.

This is a time for all of us to desire above all else to enrich ourselves spiritually, to lay up treasure in heaven, as Jesus said to this would-be follower in Mark’s Gospel.

Those who amass this kind of wealth know well that these riches cannot be taken away by anyone or anything.

They know that their loving, compassionate actions bring them closer to their fellows, closer to true wealth and closer — most especially — to God’s Kingdom.

May we remember this as we go — together — through these uncertain and trying times.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis