Sunday, August 8, 2010

Messing up your life...

Readings for Sunday, August 8/19th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Wisdom 18:6-9
Psalm 33:1,12, 18-22
Hebrews 11:1-2,8-19
Luke 12:32-48

At the beginning of this summer I had the opportunity to go with about a dozen youth from the Mercy Teens group on a mission trip in Bayou LaBatre, Alabama. With our group were a few other groups from Ohio and Indiana. One of the first night that all of the groups were there we had a meeting with all of the adults and the leader of the mission, Dave, asked us about our hopes and expectations for the week. Each person shared what he or she hoped to see in the coming week and Dave was the last one to go. When he told us his hope, I was kinda taken back. He said “I want God to mess up these kids’ lives and all of our lives.” It sounds like a bad thing, something we wouldn’t want to happen. My first thought was “I don’t want God to mess up my life, I’m happy with how things are.” And then I realized – that’s the point! If we’re happy where we are, then it is easy for us to settle in and we can begin to miss the ways that God is acting in us, through us, and around us. And worse, we risk becoming unwilling to move out to those places to which God is inviting us.

For two straight weeks now we have heard this call to seek after heavenly treasure and to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. And this week we have the added element of the life of Abraham as a model for ourselves. This combination of readings is meant to evoke a response in us – a response of faith and action, of preparation and vigilance.

When we think of ‘Ordinary Time’ in the Church year we often think of it as a time that lacks big liturgical celebrations. There isn’t a Divine Mercy Novena, we don’t do a community Way of the Cross, we don’t have the special hymns of Christmas or Lent. It seems pretty…well, ordinary. And in the midst of this ‘ordinariness’ it is easy to allow ourselves to go on autopilot and go with the flow. We all know that there is no shortage of things for us to do, places for us to go, and things to attract our attention. And with all of those other things that are going on it is easy for us to lose track of the One Thing – the Lord. And so we are given these readings to water that seed of faith.

It’s not for no reason that we wear green vestments during Ordinary Time. Green is a color of life; it recalls the new life that should be present in our spiritual life. And so during the season of ordinary time we hear this call to be prepared and understand it as a call to look into ourselves and see where it is that the Lord is at work and where it is that He is calling us to follow after Him. Our second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews tells us about the life of faith that Abraham lived and shows us what can happen when we are attentive to the call of the Lord. Abraham appeared to be a regular guy, but it was through him that many miracles were worked.

Abraham heard the from God to go out to a foreign land. Because of his faith, we hear that he sojourned in the promised land. He heard the voice of God tell him that he would bear a son through whom he would have descendents as numerous as the stars of the sky. I’m sure Abraham laughed, being ninety-nine years old at the time and with he and his wife Sarah both supposedly barren. And yet he had faith and Isaac was born. A number of years later the Lord asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. Abraham had faith that the Lord would keep to his promise and give him countless descendents and so was willing to offer up Isaac. For his faith, Abraham was able to keep Isaac. Because of Abraham’s faith, the people of Israel entered the Promised Land and began to reap the rewards that Abraham never saw. Because of Abraham’s faith, many miracles came to be. Because of Abraham’s faith, the divine plan was carried out and among his descendents is numbered many great saints – King David, the great prophets, John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin, and greatest of all, Jesus Christ. Because of Abraham’s faith, we have the gift of salvation.

It’s incredible how the faith of one man can so greatly impact the world. And yet, we must recognize that the Lord desires to work many great things in and through us as well, just as He desired to work through Abraham. Here we see the value of this call to be prepared always for the Lord’s coming and to have faith like Abraham.

As we look into ourselves, we will inevitably see something that God desires to work through to touch others and if we let Him, great miracles can be worked through us. Through a word of affirmation or a gesture of kindness, a soul might find peace. Through the sharing of our faith, the faith of another might be born or rekindled. Through the gift of our prayers, healing might take place. But none of this will happen if we do not keep ourselves aware of what is going on around us. So let us, then, not simply be happy where we are but let us desire that the Lord would ‘mess up’ our lives so that we might continually be aware of His presence and activity and be able to step out in faith to follow after him.