I’m back from my little summer hiatus away from the blog. Actually, I had contemplated giving this up all together. When I get the statistics of how many folks actually read my drivel, normally its about 8, maybe 10 people. However, my last entry was read by over 100! One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld involved George entering the room with a group of people at a meeting or whatever the situation was. George would then tell a funny joke that people laughed at. Instead of sticking around for the meeting, George would leave on a “high note” before he screwed something up or said something stupid. I kind of felt the same way – maybe it was time to leave on a “high note.” Actually, I knew I would return at some point, but it just seemed like a good time to take a break and let the creative juices get flowing again. Besides, if the President can take a hiatus, I figured I could too.
There certainly has been no lack of happenings in our world in the last month or so. The crisis in Iraq and Syria with ISIS continues to worsen. There was of course the ugly situation in Ferguson with the rioting and protesting. And Brad and Angelina finally tied the knot. Turning on the news has been enough to make your head spin. It causes a person to feel helpless at times, I think. It makes you ask questions such as why it seems that the evil intentions of a few people can overcome the good intentions of many. Or what can I do to somehow reverse this trend? Or to bottom line it – what is God’s will for me?
We can spend our entire life trying to find an answer that question. A few years ago Pope Benedict asked a gathering of priests to pray for a special intention of the pope. One of the priests asked him what that intention was. And Benedict replied: “Pray that I never get in the way of Jesus.” There is one answer to the question “What is God’s will?” Never get in the way of Jesus. That should be our prayer all of the time. When Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me,” he wasn’t just telling him where to stand. He was telling him that Peter was blocking the view. Peter was keeping Jesus from seeing where he needed to go—to Calvary. And, at the same time, Peter was keeping others from seeing Jesus. We can’t let that happen to us. Pray that others see Jesus in us, and through us, and that we never block what he is trying to do.
In a blog I read this past week, it summarized a report about Down syndrome. Couples who were expecting a baby were asked what they would think if their unborn child was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The answers were shocking. “I want the best for my child,” one mother said. “I went to Cornell University. I’d want that for my child…I wouldn’t want to continue the pregnancy.” Another said: “If he can’t grow up and have a shot at becoming president, I don’t want him.” Others complained about the expense, the difficulties, the inconveniences, etc. And yet: a study by Boston’s Children’s Hospital found that parents who actually have Down syndrome children feel differently.
79% said their outlook on life was more positive because of their child. Among adults who had Down syndrome, 99% said they were happy.
96% said they liked how they looked.
But the world today lives with this sobering reality of evil – we don’t see these people very much anymore, and for a good reason. By one estimate, 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Too many of us want what is “good and pleasing and perfect” to us—but not to God. Too many of us get in the way of God’s work in the world—thwarting his creation, disrupting his plans. Too many of us put down the cross, his will for us, and just go our own way. However, to do that is to miss out on the great adventure that is living— which we know can be wild, unpredictable, painful, and wonderful all at the same time. And, quite frankly, doing our own will just makes it that much harder to fulfill our true destiny, God’s true will for us, which is to become saints. We don’t become saints by writing our own rules, or by throwing God’s plans in the trash. We become saints by denying ourselves, and taking up our cross.
Several years ago, a Franciscan friar preached a simple homily to a group of firemen in the Bronx, people who live with the painful reality of life and death every day. This was part of what he said to them:
“That’s the way it is,” he said. “Good days. And bad days. Up days. Down days. Sad days. Happy days. But never a boring day on this job. You do what God has called you to do. You show up. You put one foot in front of another. You get on the rig and you go out and you do the job – which is a mystery. And a surprise. You have no idea when you get on that rig. No matter how big the call. No matter how small. You have no idea what God is calling you to. But he needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us.” The man who spoke those words was Fr. Mychal Judge, the first casualty of 9/11. That was his last homily, delivered on September 10th, 2001. Our prayer should be that we are able to embrace God’s will for our lives the way he did—the way Jesus did, the way all of us are called to do. To embrace the uncertainty and the wonder and the mystery of it all is, in fact, to embrace the cross. It is to embrace Christ—and follow where he leads.
Have a great rest of your Labor Day weekend and a great week ahead. Pray that the unemployed may find meaningful work at a just wage. Peace.