Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Called to conversion this summer
by Mary Cronk Farrell
(From the July 5, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
Making family plans for summer? In the midst of lining up chores for the kids, a getaway with my husband and fun time with friends and family, it came to my attention the Church has summer plans for us as well.
Often it’s hard enough just to get to Mass on time, let alone reflect on some over-arching theme someone laid out decades or centuries ago. But there is a rhythm and purpose to the structure of the Church year rooted in 4,000 years of history. This richness is available to guide, challenge and sustain us through tough times.
One glance at the Sunday Gospel readings assigned for July and August, and it’s clear the Church calls us to consider some serious conversion this summer. In this current season of Ordinary Time we hear the Good News according to St. Luke. His Gospel presents a dichotomy: God’s abundant love for us all and the cost of discipleship.
One Sunday we’ll hear God welcome people from the East, South, North and West. On another, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” After teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus tells them, if you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give those who ask him.
Luke tells stories of money, the rich and the poor, and stories of choices, good or evil. There is urgency to these summer Gospels. It is time for us, too, to choose. A decision must be made.
“Lord, will I be saved?” asks the rich young lawyer. And Jesus answers, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you will try to enter and not be able.” Equally, disturbing is the parable of the successful farmer who tears down his barns to build larger ones. “You fool!” God tells him. “This very night your life is being demanded of you.”
The following weeks the admonishments continue. “Make purses for yourselves which will not wear out. Where no thief can break in and no moth destroy.” Jesus declares he brings, not peace, but division, specifically among family members.
The Jesus of Luke talks tough and we don’t like to hear it. We don’t want to choose between salvation and retirement investments. We certainly don’t want any more division with our sons and daughters or in-laws.
I imagine back in the day, people also struggled with Jesus’ fearless public call to conversion. The man went around saying things like, blessed are the poor. He stooped to be with the broken in mind and body, the economically disadvantaged, the socially and religiously scorned, the sinners, for Pete’s sake.
And now when I’m sitting on my porch with a glass of lemonade he’s saying, “Blessed are the servants who the master finds alert when he comes.” He’s talking to me.
We can’t ignore the challenge of the Gospel. We must look at our lives and see what needs to change. At the same time, let’s not respond in fear and judgment. God’s blessing is upon us and our families. Let’s open our hearts to receive it. God’s relationship with us from way back has included both blessing and lament. We continue to disappoint God. God continues to be faithful to us, gifting us with mercy and every good thing.
Hearts swelled with gratitude become hearts broken by others’ pain and need. Eyes open begin to see the glory of God hidden in unlikely places, and we move moment by moment, day by day, toward the life of the servant we are called to be.
Relax with that glass of lemonade. Count the abundant blessings of God. Vacation refreshes and strengthens us for the journey. We travel in faith that God is working on our hearts, loving us into a people who choose to follow Jesus no matter the cost.
© 2007, Mary Cronk Farrell
(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and
children’s writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been
published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at www.marycronkfarrell.com)
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