Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bring the Boy Here to Me

Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:18-20

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master-builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

*This excerpt is from a full prayer composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

Today’s passage from the Hebrew Bible starts off with an expansion of the first commandment:

Hear, O Israel!  The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.

This is the cornerstone of the Book of Deuteronomy (words) that laid down Mosaic Law.  Since the Lord alone is God, we must love God with an undivided heart. Jesus cited these words as “the greatest and the first commandment,” embracing in itself the whole law of God.  Luke’s natural extension added one “dependent” clause to express the New Testament’s Greatest Commandment in one sentence. 

He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

If you know these laws, to where does it lead?  If nothing is impossible with God, what else do we need?  The story that Matthew related tells us: Faith. 

If we have faith, then nothing will be impossible for us because God is on our side. Maybe another way to express that commandment is in Jesus’ other words today: “Bring the boy here to me."

Time after time, Jesus tells the disciples to bring to him whatever is the source of the trouble, and he will take care of the rest.

What have you tried to move from here to there?

My mother spent her last five years living in a special care center.  We knew that she was experiencing the early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia for years.  But it became particularly evident at Mass one night.  It was time for Communion and we were seated only three of four rows back.  As we stood up, she had no idea where to go or what to do with assistance. 

My brother and sister who lived closest took on the task of how to move this mountain of independence from the comfort zone of her apartment to the local care center. Even though we knew we were choosing the right thing, it was not an easy choice to get to completion. She did not want to go.  Then, when she got there, she did not want to stay.  She “rebuked” my siblings at every step along the way.  Eventually, she stopped resisting and lived in comfort and safety. 

What mountains have you tried to move?  Maybe you need to fully rely on God. Bring the mountain to God so God and your faith, working together, can move that mountain.  If you remain on your lily pad with your problem, there is no way for Jesus to help.

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