Call to Adapt

Dear Folks,

Jesus said, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” I have found that many Catholics see themselves primarily as customers in church, while others see themselves as

co-workers in mission. Jesus instructs us to pray for more laborers.

I don’t think people reject Christianity because their current lives are so joyful and fulfilled.

I keep hearing about how people are less contented and less happy nowadays, and more filled with fear, anger, and resentment. We see a lot of this around us. Many people can’t cope with not getting their way, in fact, we see so many cases nowadays of people going

ballistic when things don’t go the way they should. This suggests their happiness and their hope are very fragile.

Our first reading is a call to rejoice and exult. We remember that when we are inviting people to the faith, or inviting them deeper into the faith, we are not telling them they have to give up the good life for a lesser existence out of fear of divine retribution, but rather to a more abundant, more free, more wonderful life.

Consider Jesus sending out the 72 to proclaim the Kingdom with “no money bag, no sack, and no sandals…(Luke 10:4).” We notice that Jesus had recently sent out the 12, also without the usual travel supplies (Luke 9:1-6). We know that the disciples usually had

some funds, with the common money bag in the care of someone they trusted completely (John 13:9). This was an exercise in doing things the hard way. I am reminded of the boy scout exercise where the scout was sent out to spend the night alone in the woods with a pocketknife, two raw hot dogs, and two matches. It was training in dealing with difficult circumstances. Robert Lewis Stevenson once said, “Life is not about holding good cards. It is about playing a bad hand well.”

The more we grow as disciples, the more we are ready to adapt to circumstances we would not have chosen. Jesus makes us resilient. Knowing that the victory has been won, and if we do not lose faith, we will share in the victory, helps us see bad news in perspective. The bad circumstances are temporary, but the Kingdom is forever. St. Paul teaches the Philippians that we can rejoice even in bad times and harsh circumstances. When things go badly, we can always ask two questions: “God, what do you want me to

learn from this?” and “God, how do you want me to serve the Kingdom in this circumstance?” We don’t need to lose our tempers or get nasty, but patiently keep working to make things better.

If we want people to believe that we have something special, then we have to be different from most people. If people notice that we are continually telling the joyful truth of the Good News and striving to serve in both good times and in bad, that might cause some to ask: “What do they have that makes them like that? I’d like to learn more.”

Blessings,

Fr Jim

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