Saturday, July 23, 2011

A COMMON TABLE: IN THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS (Jn 15: 1-17; Mt 5:23-24; 2Ti 1:1-8; Jn 6:22-59)

We are all on branches of the one vine, but some of us are way out on a limb. The trouble with going out on a limb is that someone might cut it off behind you. Or while you're out there you’ll hear a creaking and before you can skuttle back … kaaa-booom!

What is the mission and meaning of your life. Go out on a limb and think about it. Don’t just read it off the corporate logo or take it from a great quote. Take some time with it and think about it on your own. Why are you here? With your peculiar set of quirks and homely peccadilloes, what are you meant to be for the sake of the world? Imagine yourself Matthew out on a limb looking down at Jesus from afar, hoping not to be noticed by the crowd. What on earth are you up to?

Its an interesting question, but an unanswerable one. It reminds me of the story Father Joe told us about the woman on an airplane reading the Bible. The man beside her says, “You don’t believe in that stuff, do you?” She replies, “I believe it is the inspired word of God.” He says, “But what about Jonah and the whale, you don’t really believe he spent three days in the belly of a whale and lived, do you?” Trying to discourage further conversation, she looks away and says, “I don’t know, but when I get to heaven I’ll ask Jonah.” Perturbed, the man scowls, “What if Jonah isn’t in heaven?” “Then you ask him!” she says. The point is when I get to heaven, I’ll ask God what my mission was and the meaning of my life. Until then I’m doing what seems to be most needed and what I can do to live the Gospel.

Mychal Judge, OFM put it this way, “Lord, take me where you want me to go – let me meet who you want me to meet – tell me what you want me to say – and keep me out of your way.” Father Joe told us when we find ourselves out on a limb and the branch begins to creak we can take heart because out there where the branch is the weakest is where growth happens, where buds form and blossoms appear and where the delicious fruit we long for emerges.

As I live my life hoping to keep on the path God wants me on, occasionally going out on a limb in search of the fruit and trying to stay out of God’s way, there are a few good friends I turn to who help me keep the fires of my passion burning. It is my friends who remind me who I am even when I forget. Some are around me right here on earth, and some like my grandmother are up in heaven with the communion of saints. She reminds me to be true to who I am, who I was when she was alive, and who I always will be. I'm a curious kid, a quick learner, a happy worker, who loves to write. For my 7th birthday my grandmother gave me a necklace with a tiny mustard seed encased in a glass heart to wear. She told me one day I would know what it meant. I know now it was her prayer for me that helped my faith to grow so that I became a preacher.

All the Saints and Blesseds, the ones whose names we know and those we don’t, surround us. They are continually fanning the embers of love in our hearts and giving us courage, hope and understanding . . . especially when we most need it. Thanks be to God!