I went to a wake for a classmate of mine from high school. She was single and had no children. In her casket there was a propped- up photo of her precious dog, her furry companion. I was dealing with her untimely death pretty well…until I saw that photo. At that moment, I thought of her grieving family member who was not present at the ceremony, but at home, most likely waiting by the door.
I read an article about St. Francis in the October 2013 issue of Gather magazine. The writer, Bryan Cones, pointed out that we are our animal’s companions too.
I feel slightly guilty for even mentioning that it was the photo of her pet that upset me. So often we have this idea that humans are superior to animals. And sometimes we take Scripture out of context to prove it.
Another friend of mine posted on Facebook recently that she felt bad that she was paying vet bills to improve her beloved cat’s life. The expensive treatments brought the cat back to health—but she felt guilty for spending the money, after all it was only a cat. She confessed that she needed to hear from her peers that it was okay to spend resources on an animal.
In Gather, Bryan writes about the meaning of “dominion” in the Bible, but he also says the meaning must be shaped by Jesus’ command from Mark 9:35, “Whoever wants to be first must be the last of all and servant of all.” I love Bryan’s next line: “The human vocation from the beginning is to be servants not only of the ‘least of these’ in the human family but in creation as well.”
Today, October 4, the church traditionally remembers St. Francis. It’s a good time to reflect on his care for all creatures.
How do you honor God’s gift of creation every day? Does your congregation hold a blessing for animals?
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programs and editor of Café.
Photo by Elizabeth McBride. Used with permission.