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
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time | August 30/31, 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.
Have you ever been the victim of a prank?
Over the years, I have been the target of numerous pranks of varying levels of complexity.
There were the simple ones, like when my friend deposited a large bag of turkey gizzards into my bookbag that I then carried around for the rest of the day wondering why I smelled like a Thanksgiving buffet.
And then there were more complicated ones, like when my entire room was covered in aluminum foil.
But the one that took the cake occurred on Halloween my sophomore year of college.
I arrived back at my dorm to a note. Enjoy the trick and the treats. Now, I should have been more suspicious. But when I opened my door, everything seemed normal. So, I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down on my bed.
And all I heard was a lot crunch. At this point, I was torn between denial and morbid curiosity. I slowly lifted up the corner of my sheet and a piece of popcorn fell out.
Yup, my friends had replaced my mattress with over 50 bags of popped popcorn.
I couldn’t help but think of this prank when I listened to the first reading today. Because in that moment, I had a glimpse of the feelings coursing through Jeremiah.
What do we do when we are faced with a situation that seems to pull the rug out from under our feet or the mattress from on top of our bed? Moments in which we feel duped? Moments in which we have been duped?
What do we do when the road ahead is all uphill and lined with crosses we didn’t choose or didn’t bargain for?
And yet, we know that this is the right road. We know what we are supposed to do.
It is just going to be hard.
I believe that we all have these situations. Some are small, like my own . . .
The mom standing in the kitchen staring at the wall covered in crayon twenty minutes before she is supposed to be entertaining guests.
The scout leader who is staring at the broken window listening to the tale of how the capture the flag game got a little carried away.
The student who shows up to class realizing that he prepared for the wrong exam.
Others are more substantial, like Jeremiah’s . . .
The young woman who must return to school and face her peers after her boyfriend was caught making out with another student at the party.
The couple who must face the reality that they will never be able to conceive children of their own.
The employee who suddenly finds himself with a job description that is beyond his capacity, where a 70 hour work week is now his norm. An employee who knows that he must talk to his boss, that he must set some limits.
The elderly spouse who watches her husband fade away, slowly forgetting the life they have built together.
But no matter the size or scope of the situation, the question remains the same.
What do we do?
What do we do with our beds full of popcorn? Do we lament the fact that we cannot sleep or do we see new possibilities with all of this popcorn?
Do we handle the situation like Jeremiah wanted to? Allowing ourselves to be consumed by bitterness, anger or despair? Asking the questions . . . Why me? What more do you want from me? Even though there may never be an answer.
Do we handle the situation like Peter wanted to? By denying the reality of the cross? By trying to run away from all that is difficult?
Or do we handle the situation like Jesus?
Embracing the crosses that come our way, the big ones and the small ones.
Choosing to allow God to take our crosses and craft them into moments of transformation, of resurrection.
-Moments in which we become more patient, or more understanding, or more compassionate.
-Moments in which we learn how to prioritize. Moments in which we surrender our pride, our sense of control, our insistence on being right.
-Moments in which we gain courage, moments in which we become stronger, moments in which our hearts our stretched, moments in which our vision grows wider.
What do we do with the cross my friends?
It is the question at the heart of our call as disciples. It is a question that will challenge us, change us, break us, and remake us. It is the question that unlocks the possibility of new life
Let us embrace our crosses my friends. And let us do so together. May God Be Praised.