Gracious God, you love so radically that you cause division to develop because we can’t grasp how wide is your embrace. Be with us this night, as we invite you into our lives to push the boundaries of our experience so that we can grow into the grace filled vessels of your love for all. As we walk this night may our journeys be filled with discovery and hope, for we walk in your name, one God for ever and ever.
Gracious God, in the radical wideness of your mercy and love, open our hearts and minds to see beyond the limits of our visions and the confines of our certitudes. Grant us the grace of gratitude and the uncomfortability of your disturbance, so that we can see the breadth of your embrace for all of your creation. We ask this in the great mystery of you, one God forever and ever. Amen
Oh God, we have been challenged, and have explored and wrestled with your word and the incomprehensible wideness of your love and embrace. May this sacrament be for us a reminder that like the fire of your love we may never contain what is uncontainable, and yet our holiness is as close as the changing of our perspective. Walking in your embrace may we share the vastness of your presence with a world that struggles to live with the concept of unlimited love. We ask this in your most holy name, one God forever and ever.
In the late 1990s the was a print ad for CNN….
It was a picture of a large semi engulfed in flames on a city street, and an elderly woman with a kitchen bucket with a garden hose throwing her little pail of water on the truck and the caption underneath it read:
History is not made by kings and presidents, but by ordinary people doing extraordinary things!
And I thought to myself….that is precisely a metaphor for the Spiritual Life as well…..
Holiness is not only accomplished by ascetic monks locked away in a remote monastery or some radically holy place, but by ordinary people, doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways!
You see my friends, we run the danger of hearing this Gospel today and thinking that we must not have enough faith….because while we may not have tried to uproot some mulberry tree…we have ferverently prayed for this thing or that and it did not happen.
And we conclude inacurately that we must not have enough faith. But nothing could be further from the truth.
We must hear the whole Gospel…that Jesus continues to say…that each and every one of us have been given and gifted with enough faith yet we often fall short in living the gift that has been given.
I think it is imperative for us to hear what Paul said:
That is why I want to remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that is in you!
Sometimes we separate who we are and what we do in our daily lives from the God in whom we believe because we have been erroneously been taught that there is a separation between us and God….between our faith and our daily lives….between the Sacred and the Profane….nothing…absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. And that is what I believe Jesus was trying to say to the disciples…
The 16th century St. Francis de Sales wrote in his book entitled: An Introduction to the Devout Life these words:
“It is not merely an error but it is in fact a heresy to believe that a devout life of holiness is necessarily banished from the soldier’s camp, the merchant’s shop, the prince’s court or the domestic hearth.”
My friends…Jesus pointed out to the disciples….they didn’t and we don’t need more faith…we simply need to see or to realize that the gift of faith has already been given, we just need to live into the gift.
Faith is about looking at our lives from the 4th dimension….you see we see in 3D but we must realize we live in 4D….anything we look at, any experience we have or are having always has a dimension which we can not see…there is a deeper meaning there is a side of the experience that is begging to be explored and yet we run the risk of drawing our conclusions and decisions from our limited 3D perspective.
Faith is about understanding….everything has another dimension, another side, another perspective that we are invited to explore.
Let me tell you about an inmate whom I have come to know these past two years….when I met J…he was in the hole…Segregation…he was ticked off, angry, a chip on his shoulder bigger than the rock of Gibraltar…we visited several times and had numerous conversations over the time he would find himself in and out of the hole.
This past year has seen a huge change in J. He has done a complete 180…he smiles, he is courteous, his anger seems to have subsided or he is at least dealing with it in a healthier manner. He has begun to change the attitude and environment of his entire unit. It’s almost hard to be negative around him…which alone is an accomplishment.
You have to understand…J is about 35..has been down for probably about 10 yrs, and is facing being down for another 30….that is a very long time in a very limiting, negative, dangerous environment. Prison doesn’t often facilitate the growth in holiness.
I called J in this week and just had to ask him….what happened? What’s different? He said….well you know Marty…one time when I was in SEG and you sat down and talked to me through the book pass you said….well J..you can spend the next 30 yrs, pissed off, angry, fighting and miserable…or you can make the decision to spend the next 30 yrs helping others see a different side of their situation and maybe save them from being pissed off, angry and miserable….He said…I thought about that…prayed on it…and decided maybe that is my purpose…to accept my 30 but make sure that others don’t have to live it!
You see my friends….we don’t need to ask Jesus for more faith….we just need to look at the 4th dimension of our lives and see it from a new perspective. Holiness is as close as a smile, or a hand shake or a thank you.
Remember what Paul said: That is why I want to remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that is in you!
I wonder what dimension the world will see from us this week?