Just As We Are

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 8, 2018

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the second and Gospel readings. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

So there are certain things you discover rather early in life.

My lack of any sort of athleticism was one of those things.

I’m not exactly sure when I discovered this truth . . .

Maybe the Red Rover game in which I was clotheslined straight onto the blacktop

Or the pull-up day in gym class when I didn’t manage to complete one and instead just awkwardly hung there from the pole until I was mercifully permitted to fall to the ground.

Or when I would try to wrestle with my brother and he would simply pick me up and toss me across the room onto our couch.

But I do recall that being weak was a problem. For as a young man, I was supposed to be strong. And I just wasn’t.

And as the years went on, I learned that I possessed much graver weaknesses in the eyes of the world.

I learned that I wasn’t supposed to cry when I was hurt or when I was with others who were hurting.

I learned that I wasn’t supposed to talk about my feelings.

I learned that I wasn’t supposed to mess up or fail.

But I did all of those things.

And for years, I thought the world was right.

I looked at all of these weaknesses and I just saw negatives.

And I believe I am not alone.

I believe that most of us are acutely aware of all of our weaknesses.

We too have been told by the world what we should be.

We are supposed to be successful in every facet of our lives.

We are supposed to have all of the answers.

We are supposed to have it all together.

We are supposed to be perfect. With the perfect family, the perfect body, the perfect job,

And every moment that we fail to live up to these standards we wrap ourselves in shame.

I’m a mess. I’m a failure. I’ll never be good enough. I’m a loser.

But then we hear these readings for this weekend and it is as if God is shouting through the noise. You’ve got it all wrong.

For the world’s opinions are not mine.

Jesus and Mary didn’t have the right credentials. Their family was poor. Their village was insignificant. And they spent a lot of time befriending the wrong people.

Paul had a history. He had a fierce temper, was abrasive, impulsive, and often failed.

But God loved them. Just as they were.

And they knew that God loved them. They said yes to God’s plan for them. And with this yes, God was empowered to take their weaknesses and make them strengths.

Jesus was able to break through social barriers that had left far too many outside of God’s love. Mary was able to say yes to bearing Christ to the world because she was unafraid of the social consequences of her actions.

Paul was able to become a fierce champion of what was right, even in the face of danger, persecution and social pressure to conform. He was able to preach about God’s unconditional mercy because he had received it.

And my friends, I am convinced that God has the same message for each of us.

For God loves us, just as we are, not who believe we are supposed to be.

And in turn, God is inviting us to live in that love. To say yes to who we are and where God is calling us. To let God take our weaknesses and use them to build the kingdom.

For it is when we are weak that we are truly strong.

And so I embrace my mess and my failures. I will continue to let the tears fall and will continue to open my heart to others, knowing it will get me burned. And yes, I will accept that weightlifting is not in my immediate future.

For this is who I am. This is who God loves.

And that is truly good news indeed.

May God be Praised

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