I once knew a godly woman who had truly tasted the bitterness of this earthly life. This woman knew pain. She knew sacrifice. She worked each day at a low-paying job, waiting patiently for her 65th birthday, when she could retire and devote herself full-time to her grandchildren. I think we all know someone like this, don’t we?
There is something strangely sacred about the act of asking for something. It requires humility. It requires grace. It requires us to be awake, to be aware, to be vulnerable. Too often we fall into a pattern of entitlement, even when it comes to information.
Before text messaging and social media made us all unconditionally, mercilessly reachable, people would do this thing called “stopping by.” They would be passing by a friend’s house, maybe on the way home from work or shopping, and they would just … stop. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but it was common enough that you had to be ready.
“If Jesus wanted us to (fill in the blank), he would have said so.” We hear this argument applied to every controversial topic under the sun — and even some not-so-controversial topics, too. Whenever someone is trying to make a case for a decision they have already made, they call in Jesus’ scriptural silence on the matter as their expert, unimpeachable witness.
A friend of mine had a Polish grandmother who was famous for giving her children some blunt advice every time they left the house: “Eyes straight ahead. Mind your own business.” In this way, a woman who rarely said “I love you” expressed her devotion. Jesus does much the same for us, in many portions of the Gospels.
Have you ever paid attention to the purification of the sacred vessels after Holy Communion? If you haven’t, I highly recommend doing so this Sunday. See the care with which the priest handles the chalice and the paten, pouring water into them to cleanse any loose particles of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Have you ever had a job for which you didn’t feel qualified? I think we all have, whether it was a paying gig or not. A lot of us parents often feel in awe of the magnitude of that role and lose sleep worrying that we made the wrong decision in one situation or a bad call in another. Some of us feel intimidated by what our communities need from us, on the parish level or in our personal relationships.
The truth is the same in every language, but it’s important for us to convey that truth graciously. That’s what Pentecost teaches us. The gift of being able to speak in tongues afforded the Apostles a practical skill to spread the Gospel message, but it also served as a powerful symbol of the importance of effective communication.
As individuals, we don’t receive news in the same way. Our personalities, our histories, our weaknesses, and our strengths determine how we interact with information we encounter in the world, both good and bad. The same news can mean completely different things to different people.
earth. We want to ascribe some kind of power and significance to the last words they say. In Jesus’ case, every word he ever said had power and significance, but especially those he said before ascending into Heaven: “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”
If you’ve ever worked in any kind of organization, for-profit or not-for-profit, I’m sure you have attended a conference or two. Whatever our expectations going in, I usually find these conferences expose me to communication and problem-solving styles that are different from my own, nudging me into a little unexpected self-discovery.