January 29-30, 2011, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Judging by his words to the Corinthians, Paul would never make it as an inspirational speaker.
Consider your own call, sisters and brothers. You are not that bright, you are not that powerful, you came from the wrong side of the tracks. But God chose you.
[Read letter from below]
As Jesus reminded his disciples, God doesn't think like you or I think. God has chosen us, the baptized, to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth. Whether that is an exercise of divine wisdom or a weird sense of divine humor remains to be seen. So whenever we think that we don't have a chance to be much of a force against what we see around us, remember that God sees it differently.
God chose us who are poor in spirit – regardless of how much money we have. The more we realize our poverty in relation to God's abundance, the more we are blessed, as we share in that abundance instead of trying to live on the meager resources we have by ourselves.
God chose us who mourn. We all mourn for different things: some for the loss of a loved one, some for the loss of a job, others for the loss of a relationship. Often we mourn because like Paul, we know what we should do, but instead we bring pain and suffering on ourselves and others by doing that which we should not do, or by failing to do what we know we should do. And in that realization of our weakness and tendency towards sin, God is able to work marvelous deeds through us.
God chose us who are meek, not meek in the sense of being a doormat, but meek in the sense of focusing more on being human and whole than on being important or powerful. Because it is only though our humanity and wholeness, God chooses to exert God's power in the world.
God chose us who are clean of heart; clean of heart, not all clean, but saints who are rough around the edges, selfish, moody, quick to anger, quick to jealousy, slow to forgive and slow to accept forgiveness, but who deep down shelter a smoldering spark of holiness, of likeness to God. And if we let God fan this spark of cleanness of heart it occasionally flares up into a flame of goodness that shines through the darkness of our weakness, and becomes a manifestation of holiness that surprises us as much as those around us.
God chose us who are merciful; merciful because when we see sin and weakness in others, we see a reflection of the sin and weakness that is in ourselves, and so we make God's mercy known in this world.
God chose us who are peacemakers, peacemakers not because we have found true peace ourselves but through years of falling short of true peace, we have come to understand its value and to yearn for its comfort.
And finally, God chose us who are persecuted for God's sake, those who gather together to worship as a community on a Sunday morning when conventional wisdom says stay in bed, or go play golf; those who say that human life is important at every stage because life belongs to God, not to human beings when conventional wisdom says that people dying should be able to choose when to die, and mothers to be who don't want to be should be able to choose death for the life they carry. By choosing God's side in a world which ridicules the very existence of God, we make God present in a culture of death.
Today's readings tell us to take heart, despite Paul's bluntness. God chose us for our very imperfections so that it will be clear to the world, and maybe more importantly, to each one of us, that it is God who is working good in and through us. We don't have to do it by ourselves; which is good because we can't do it by ourselves. But we have to contribute the motion, the action. Imagine trying to turn a sled that is sitting still in the snow. It is hard to do. But set that sled sliding down a hill, and the slightest tug on the steering sends the sled in a whole new direction. God can't move us in the right direction if we are sitting still in the snow. We need to get moving, get sliding, and then listen for the slight tug from God that will send us in a blessed new direction.
So let's not use our failings and our sinfulness as an excuse for standing on the sidelines. If you have been asked to serve as a eucharistic minister or an altar server but felt unworthy, let God use that unworthiness to his glory. If you have considered coming to Generations of Faith but felt that you would be embarrassed by what you don't know, let God use that feeling to demonstrate God's power. Your coming to Mass is a great first step. Keep moving in the right direction.
So let us boast only in the Lord, not in ourselves, and in all of this, rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, and if truth be told, the blessings you experience on earth will be great as well
The following letter is taken from a newsletter called Pulpit Helps from July 1989.:
Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter Carpenter Shop
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests. We have not only run the results through our computer, but have also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. The profiles of the tests are included. You will want to study each of them carefully.
It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, educational and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue to search for persons with proven managerial ability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas displays a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son a Alphaeus and Thaddaeus have radical leanings and registered high manic-depressive scores.
Only one of the candidates shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness who meets people well and has a keen business mind. He has contacts in high places and is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All the other profiles are self-explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
Jordan Management Consultants