17th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 23/24, 2016
Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
PROTIP: You can take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
On Saturday, I got back from a two-week summer camp at DeSales University with the students from Nativity Prep.
Now, this is my fourth consecutive summer directing the program, so have gotten used to a lot of the ups and downs that come with managing 33 middle school boys for two weeks.
But one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how often they choose to knock on my door.
No matter how late it is or how tired I am, it is inevitable. The minute my head hits the pillow, the knock will come.
Fr. Brian, the toilet is clogged and water is pouring all over the floor.
Fr Brian, can you read chapter 14 with me.
Fr. Brian, my nose is bleeding.
Fr. Brian, I am homesick.
Fr. Brian, my roommate stole my snack.
Fr. Brian, I am out of boxers.
And my personal favorite, Fr. Brian, were you sleeping?
Now, I will be honest. Many times, when I hear that knock, I just want it to go away. I don’t want the responsibility. I don’t want to deal with another problem. I just want to be left alone.
So Sunday night was my one evening off. I had just settled down in my room for a few minutes of quiet before grabbing dinner with my parents. When I heard a knock on my door.
I thought I was going to blow a gasket. I stalked to the door, swuni g it open and looked down at one of the youngest students at the camp looking up at me. He looked up at me and said, tonight is your night off, right Fr. Brian.
Yes . . . I growled. Good, I just wanted to tell you to have a good time and that we’ll miss you. He then scampered down the hall and into his room. And I stood there, both chastised and grateful.
For that little guy reminded me of why I get all of those knocks on my door.
I get those knocks because those kids trust me, they believe in me, and they want to be in relationship with me. No matter how big or small the problem, those constant knocks are a reminder that I am there for them, no matter what.
Which is why these readings for this weekend could not be more timely.
For they challenge me, they challenge all of us to ask. Are we that comfortable knocking at our God’s door?
For I don’t know about you, but I know that I could take some lessons from my students.
For when I examine my own prayer life, I often feel like I hold back in my conversations with God.
I seem to weigh each challenge that comes my way to determine if it is worthy of turning to God for help with.
As if I will somehow bother God if my request is too inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
And so I find myself trying to do too much on my own. I become bogged down in stress and anxiety and hurt feelings. All the while, that door stands right before me, inviting me to simply knock.
I hesitate to name what I really need.
When my heart is broken, I try to put on a happy face.
When I am angry or feel betrayed, I try to just smooth it over.
And when I am upset and don’t even quite understand why, I too often choose to sit alone instead of sitting beside my God in my confusion and struggle.
And I rarely stop and knock just to chat.
I let my life become so busy that I too often forget all about knocking on that door.
I believe that is why I have such a deep respect for Abraham in today’s 1st reading.
For like my students, he gets it.
He does not hesitate to engage with his God. Honestly. Openly. Completely.
And in their frank conversation, each one comes to understand each other more. They grow even closer as Abraham continues on his literal journey down the path prepared for him.
My friends, I believe that this Gospel is a not so subtle reminder that is given to each of us this day.
A reminder to knock on the door that God has prepared for us.
It does not matter what we come to share.
It could be quiet prayers of gratitude or joyous retelling of treasured stories.
It could be questions with seemingly no answers or doubts that have been nagging at us.
It could be anguished cries or muttered curses.
It could be a simple hello or the silence of a heart listening for a response.
All that matters is that we choose to knock. That we choose to invite our God to be a part of our lives, in each moment that we are given.
For then, we too, shall experience the peace and comfort that comes with knowing that our God is always there to open the door. May God be Praised.