Even When It’s Messy

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time | November 11, 2018

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

Last Spring, I had the opportunity to return to Ecuador on a service trip.  And it was during that week that we were welcomed into the home of one of the neighbors of the Center where we were staying.

Now, there was always one rule when we visited a neighbor’s home.

Do not eat or drink anything offered to you, unless it comes out of a package.  

Understably, the Center was trying to prevent any of us from getting sick as water quality throughout Ecuador is problematic.  A caution that I was grateful for as the chaperone.

So you can imagine my discomfort as the host came bustling out of the kitchen with a dozen homemade popsicles that she had lovingly prepared.

Now the chaperone in me is having a mild heart-attack.

But the students never hesitated.  They each grabbed one, uttering a chorus of “gracias” as they slurped down the delicious treats.  They all then looked at me to see what I was going to do.

I grabbed the popsicle and prepared for a long night in the restroom.

Now, thankfully, the bathroom trips never occured.    

But that night, as we gathered for reflection, I was blown away by the insight of the students into that moment.

One of the kids goes.  Fr. Brian, I know we weren’t supposed to.  But she was being so generous, how could we reject her gift?

Another pipes up, And let’s be real.  If one of us was going down, we might as well all go down together.

But then the final kid just clinched the deal for me.  I mean, isn’t that what a sacrament is supposed to be. We all come, offer our gifts, share in each other’s lives even when its messy and encounter God in the moment.

Amen brother.  Amen.

That is exactly what a sacrament is supposed to be.

A lesson that I was reminded of in reflecting on the readings for this weekend.

For in the story of the two different widows, we are reminded of the two key truths that my students and I discovered a continent away in Ecuador. Truths at the heart of this sacrament.

Which is that first and foremost, we are each called to give what we have for the sake of the other.

It may run counter to our society’s narrative, which is always reminding us that we never have enough.

We never have enough time.

We never have enough money.

So be judicious.  Be smart. Protect your valuable commodities.

But it is the way of the Gospel.  Reckless, boundless generosity.

Placing the needs of the other before your own.

Choosing to do without so that another may possess.

Finding the time, knowing the cost.

And so, as we gather around this altar, it is our own lives that we offer with the bread and wine.  It is our treasure, our talents, and our time that we lift up to our God.  Knowing it all comes with a cost.

But then, in the same moment.  We are called to embrace our own vulnerability.  For we too always possess needs. We too have doubts.  We too have fears. We too have loneliness and isolation.  We too have darkness.

And like Elijah, we too must have the confidence and courage to turn to the sister or brother that sits beside us and ask for what we need.

Knowing that this vulnerability is always a risk.  For recognizing our own dependence on one another is never easy for a society that trumpets the independent man or woman who manages on their own as the Gold Standard.

But it is the way of the Gospel. Trusting that the God who comes to us in bread and wine will meet our every hunger and quench our every thirst.  In and through his people, us, the Body of Christ. It may get messy. But all meals usually are.

And so my friends, today, as we break bread and pass around a cup, may we too encounter God once again in this sacrament.

As we offer our gifts.

As we share in each other’s lives, messy as they be.

As we utter our needs.

May it all be done according to God’s will.  Amen. Amen.

May God be Praised.

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