The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time-B: July 16, 2006

Amos 7:12-15
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:7-13

Dear Jesus,

Would it have been better that day if, instead of stopping to listen, I had passed you by and continued with my purpose? That’s a silly question, isn’t it? How could I have done otherwise? Sometimes, I fantasize and wonder where I would be today had we never met. Would those adolescent dreams have continued to motivate me and sustain me as one by one they were realized? Who would I be today if I had not paused and wondered if your words were meant for me?

Those initial days were spectacular. I had never experienced anything that equaled the joy I felt in your company, anything like the love that formed the bond between us. I would have been content to loll in the wash of affection and let the rest of the world pass by. But you would not let that be. You let me loll long enough for the hook to be set as it were for me to realize that I could have no life without you when you began to nudge me from the nest and inform me that what you had given me I was not meant to keep for myself. If the relationship was just the two of us it would wither and die. Relationship with you means living your life, walking in the same confidence and vulnerability that come from knowing you are loved and relying on nothing but the beloved. And being sent to bring that relationship to others.

Do you remember how I argued with you about being ready? I thought you should have taught some skills and techniques that would better equip me to meet the challenges of today’s tastes. These are times in which money, prestige, youth, power, and success dazzle. It is all about dominating and getting to the top and having the bling as tangible evidence of making it. What were the tangibles that I could offer that would entice others to take up the challenge of following you? There had to be a way to water down the giving up of everything, the embracing of poverty that you prescribe as being necessary if one is going to be your disciple. Then there is the matter of the Cross that you say one has to take up every day if one is to follow you. Where’s the attraction in that?

At least you agree that it is not good for humankind to be alone and send out those ambassadors of your cause in twos the bond of their relationship reflecting each one’s intimacy with you. Would it not have been better, though, if the two had also been equipped with up-to-date technology, sounds, lights, the glitz that becomes addictive to audiences seeking ever higher thrills? What is going to make people want to come back for more? How are we going to fascinate them long enough for us to set the hook? It’s not about us, is it? It is not about me. It is about you. You are the message and there is only one way when it comes to following you.

Service, love, pouring out of self in imitation of you, that is what those you send out must do and then step aside and let you do the rest. That is what I have to remember. It is all gift. You seized me not because there was anything irresistible about me but because you chose to love me in God as one who is created in God’s own image. When I cringed and hesitated to respond to your invitation you proclaimed forgiveness. That was even before I got around to being sorry. The Blood of forgiveness washed over me and gave me a share in your own destiny, to be the beloved of God in you. That is where I wanted to weep, to wallow, and to remain. You said, “Go.”

So, here I am these many years later, wondering. What do I have to show for the years? How many have I won to the cause? I can think of so many others more successful than I. They have great technique and mesmerizing voices that hold large assemblies spellbound. They can count converts in the thousands and point to great edifices erected to stand in testament to their efforts. Some even bear their names. But I can’t do that, not any of those claims are mine.

So I wonder about your promise of strengths that would go with me if I relied only on you. I did that. I gave you my all. But I doubt any demons fled at my voice. Were any healed by my touch? Will anyone remember?

Wait! I have to stop. You know my intentions. You know my desire to love and serve you and to bring others to you. You are the only one who knows if I was effective at all. Please tell me that at least my efforts contributed to others’ successes. Tell me that my service meant something. Please, tell me. Or do I have to trust and wait for the last day?



1 comment so far

  1. Nina Kohl on

    Dear Fr. Sarkies,

    I hope that you, unlike Didymus, know that demons have fled at your voice, and the hearts you’ve touched have been healed. I’ve witnessed it and will always remember.

    You are in my prayers.

    In Christ Jesus,

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