Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 26/27, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the first and Gospel readings.
What is your most precious possession?
There was a time when this question would have been difficult for me. I tend to be a bit of a packrat and my room is filled with mementos that remind me of the people and memories in my life that mean something to me. I would have been hard-pressed to narrow down my attention to only one item.
But that was all before my first profession to the Oblates in which my parents presented me with this rosary.
When you look at the rosary, you quickly realize that something isn’t quite right. For each decade is composed of different beads. Some are metal, some are glass, some are plastic. Some are tarnished with age and worn smooth by the constant motion of hands holding these beads. Others appear brand new.
I was utterly perplexed by the gift at first glance. Why would I want a mishmash rosary? That was until my parents explained. See each set of beads came from another rosary. A rosary that had been found broken and still kept even though it no longer appeared useful.
These rosaries came from my parents and my brothers, my grandparents and my great grandparents, my godparents and my pastor.
From those many broken parts, a new rosary was crafted.
Now, every time I hold my rosary, I am connected with each of them. The community of people who planted the seeds of my vocation and slowly cultivated them into the fruit I see today.
As I was reading the Gospel for today. I couldn’t help but draw a connection between my rosary and the precious gift that is the Kingdom of God.
For in the end, both come down to relationships.
See I believe that just like my rosary, the kingdom of God is comprised of many parts.
We are the members of the kingdom. Right now. In our striving to become who God calls us to be. And if we are honest with ourselves, we know that each of us is broken in our own way.
Some of us were broken by others.
Cruel words that convinced us that we would never belong at the cool table. That we were too fat or too weird. Too feminine or too nerdy
The person we trusted who twisted our love against us as they abused us
The one who left us holding the bills and the children while they started a new life without us.
Some of us were broken by the circumstances of life.
The job we dreamed of being snatched away in a round of layoffs
The medical diagnosis that stole our loved one long before it was there time
The car accident that left us crippled in body and spirit.
And some of us broke ourselves
Through our fear of failure that prevented us from ever taking a risk
Through our decision to cheat to get ahead
Through our pride that convinced us we could do this on our own.
At first glance we too could look around and think that the Kingdom of God must not be right. For why would God use broken pieces in his masterpiece? Why would God use us?
But with the eyes of faith, we can see what God is doing with each of us, his broken strands of beads. He is fusing us together. Allowing our brokenness to find wholeness through being linked with other beads.
But this master craftsman does not accomplish this task alone.
He turns to each of us and invites us into this process.
The process of healing each other, ourselves and the world.
A process that requires the gift of understanding that Solomon requested in the first reading.
Understanding that allows us to walk across the cafeteria and sit with the new student because we understand what it is like to be the new person. The stranger. The outsider
Understanding that allows us to weep for Palestinian children and Israeli teenagers, death row inmates and unaccompanied migrant children, innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire and gang members who are buried at the age of 23
Understanding that allows us to celebrate when our co-worker gets the promotion, that allows us to endure sleepless nights for our elderly father who can’t seem to get comfortable, that allows us to open our arms and embrace the wayward child who comes home broke and broken.
Understanding that allows us to forgive ourselves for our own brokenness. That allows us to let go. That allows us to love without fear or condition.
The Kingdom of God is at hand my friends. Let us join with our God and one another in the work of building the kingdom together.
Image courtesy of http://www.cruzblanca.org/hermanoleon/