You may have heard to the tragedy we had in our community this week. Tena Fiest – a 4th grader in our school – died in a fire early Thursday morning.
Her parents remain in critical condition at KU Medical Center. Please pray for Tena and her family.
You may want to look at the butterflies on the steps of the altar after Mass. Everyone in school wrote something they enjoyed or will miss about Tena on them.
For us – it’s a good time to make sure our smoke detectors work in our homes – and that we have a plan for getting out in case a fire does occur.
It’s time for a revelation: call it a Matthew moment. For the last 20 years or so – I have been hooked ---- on---- Harry Potter!
I first got hooked on the books – because I wondered what could be so interesting that young people were reading 500 and 600 page books?
And so I bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – and was easily hooked into the escapism that the book offered.
If you have any familiarity with any of the books or the movies – you probably know all about Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans.
They are inspired by the traditional muggle, that is human --candy known as Jelly Beans --- but they come in all different flavors – some no one would expect.
From great hits like marshmallow or watermelon, to some horrible surprises like ear wax or rotten eggs --- and perhaps even a few hidden treats like toothpaste or grass --- with Bertie Botts
Flavored Beans --- there really is as many flavors as there are people. . . because if you can imagine it – then it is possible.
So what about faith? And what about holiness? And what about Catholic parishes. . . Do they only come in a few flavors – or are there many???
St. Paul tells us “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts – but the same Spirit;
-there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
-there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”
Do we really believe this???? And the reason I ask is because, on the surface, it seems probably not.
And I’m not talking about how Catholics view the rest of the world. We’ll leave that for another day.
No, I’m talking about how Catholics view other Catholics – how we view those sitting on our left and on our right ---------- in a literal sense as to who is sitting in the pew next to us --------
but also in a figurative sense – as to how one falls on the liberal to the conservative scale.
Do we think that all faithfulness looks exactly the same? Do we believe that Catholics are expected (dare I say – commanded) to be carbon-copies of each other??
Do we believe there is only one way to be holy, one way to worship – that faith and holiness and reverence only come in one flavor, one color, one expression????
I think it takes deep faith ----- to embrace what St. Paul is getting at – that God’s work is accomplished through our DIFFERENCES not our SIMILARITIES.
That God’s work is accomplished through COUNTLESS gifts, not just a few – accomplished through unique and often complex individuals coming together for a greater purpose, a greater good --- coming together to help bring about the world God envisions and hopes for and died to make possible.
But this can’t happen if we over-romanticize the so called “good old days” – the days when Catholicism ONLY seemed to come in one flavor, when Catholics seemed to never have a reason to disagree, or wonder about things, or wrestle with how best to follow after Christ.
For good or bad ---- those days are gone – IF they ever really existed --- and they are not coming back no matter how many altars are turned around of Latin Masses are said – and one could easily argue that those days should NOT come back.
After all ---- we have been through an ecumenical council -------- called by the Holy Spirit working in and through Pope John 23rd ----------- and a council inspired by the Holy Spirit working through over 2,000 Bishops ----- who approved 16 documents, the first one being on the reform of the liturgy ----- all passed by a vast majority.
The Second Vatican council calls the Church NOT to avoid the world – but to engage it --- by being leaven ---
That is a pervasive influence that modifies something or transforms it for the better.
This is what the Church --- and we are the Church – the People of God--- are called to do.
And, if we really are going to be leaven in the world --- if we are truly going to help transform the world into something great and meaningful and loving ----- it’s going to take all of us ---- all of us using our very unique gifts and abilities and insights and perspectives and ideas to help bring it about.
And it can’t happen if each one of us, or each parish, or each priest --- thinks they have cornered the market on holiness – if we think that everyone has to do it our way.
It can’t happen if we think that all that matters is what we believe --- and not what we do.
And it can’t happen if we think all that matters is what we do – and not what we believe.
And it can’t happen if we think holiness means we have to vote a certain way, or pray a certain way, or talk about the Church in a certain way, or even talk about God in a certain way.
So last week, with the help of the Scriptures – we found out we are called to be followers of Christ.
This week – we find out we are called to be leaven, a change element – in the world. . .
Each of us has something to offer – something given to us by God ---- we don’t have to try to be like anyone else or envious of anyone else --- for part of being Church is the ability to recognize the gifts of one another and embrace them --------- not simply try to tolerate them and certainly not dismissing them.
I guess you could say that the best way to live out our faith --- the best way to be disciples of Jesus Christ – the adopted daughters and sons of the living God ---
is to let Christ TRANSFORM each of us into the wonderful individual God is calling us to be --- allow God to take what looks ordinary – like water – and bring about the finest wine.
But don’t forget – even though we may all be growing on the same vine, in the same vineyard and nourished and cultivated and pruned by the same vine-grower ----- the wine we produce is the result of all of us getting crushed and mixed together.
It’s each of our individual variety mixed together that keeps the celebration going and the Church growing – always moving forward – never backward and that keeps God’s love and mercy and compassion alive and well in the world.
And who knows – maybe there is something in you or in me the world and the Church has never yet experienced and desperately needs . . . and is just waiting for to offer -----------and we find that out ---TOGETHER.
Moments in time...