In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…
One thing I often wonder about is the small things. How the smallest of things work together to make the big things happen. And one of the things that intrigue me the most about the small things that work together is us, our cooperation with each other and especially God. To co-operate or to work with someone takes a lot of energy. Working with those around us requires patience, may be a lot of patience, especially when the person in front of us doesn’t necessarily understand or appreciate the cooperative efforts being used to get a task done.
Throughout scripture we find several versus and stories of God working with humanity and his creation to bring about his Divine Will. We see this in today’s Gospel account of when Mary visits Elizabeth. We all know the story of how the child in the womb of Elizabeth jumps at the sound of Mary’s greeting. Yet, we often look past the beautiful words Mary speaks poetically as she says, “Magnify me O Lord…” She is reciting the Psalms and prophets and through her song Mary is reminding us that she is not just a Virgin who gave birth to the Son of God; she is also blessed by all generations through her action, through her humility to the will of God.
Every Sunday, as we come together and celebrate Badarak, the breaking and sharing of bread and wine, Christ body and blood, we offer ourselves as gifts to God, as disciples for doing his will and work in the world. As a community we bring to God our most basic needs, offering our whole life, and ask him to take us, change us, use us and give himself back to us, as his own Body and Blood for forgiveness, healing, and salvation. So Badarak is not only about God’s plan to share himself with us, but also about changing us into the people God wants us to be, the Body of Christ, nourished to carry out the mission of the Church. In both these instances we see a definite cooperation between God and humanity. Yet, many times I struggle with okay apart from Church how else does God use me? As a pastor it may be easier then for others. My job title requires of me to be a teacher of God to those around me. Yet, even I admit, getting lost in some of the administrative work or day to day tasks of priesthood, sometimes I struggle to find God working with me or using me for good.
This reminds of a story I read many years ago of a young man going from school one day. He was the average, popular, jock kid who maybe wasn’t the smartest of all. One day, walking home on a boring Friday afternoon, he saw his classmate heading home with what looked like an entire locker full of books. Thinking that this guy must be a geek, he watched how a few other guys from school knocked the guy over and ridiculed him. Feeling bad he went over to help him gather up his things and they even walked home, talking to each other. The popular jock even invited the geek over to hang out over the weekend. Over the years, these two became very good friends. Upon graduating each would go off to a different college but they would remain friends forever. Our geeky friend was, to no ones surprise, the valedictorian and as he got up to give his speech everyone listened in shock. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach — but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story about the first day I met my best friend. I had planned to kill myself over the weekend. I had cleaned out my locker so my mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying my stuff home. Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”
We live in a quantitative society, where we measure our worth by how much money we make, how many friends we have on social media, what hangs in our closet etc. Unfortunately many of us fail to see the worth of our actions when we want to see God working in our lives. We look for miracles, we look for immediate answers, we look to find worth in our actions. Yet, my dear brothers and sisters, why is it we look for worth in only our big actions? When someone stops a bullet, or prevents a terrorist attack from happening. When a doctor heals an incurable disease or when someone walks away from a horrific accident. We say Park Astudzo, Thanks be to God. Yet, I am sure many of us would not see God in a kid being nice to someone being bullied; we do not see God in us opening a door for someone who is unable to; we do not see God in a smile or a gesture of kindness.
Yet, my dearly beloved brothers and sisters, that’s where God’s cooperation with us is found. A women giving birth, a jock helping a fellow classmate, a bullet being stopped, us celebrating Badarak, all of these actions are example of us working with God only when we do so out of love for God and each other. No matter how big or small it may seem, natural or miraculous, each of these actions can serve the glory of God or the glory of us. We can go to Badarak and feel self righteous and judgmental – rather than be repentive, humble and ask for God’s mercy. We can “make friends” to satisfy our own self worth rather then see the worth of the person we are befriending. We can heal all sickness and become arrogant, rather then thank God the true physician.
My dear brothers and sisters, our love for the Virgin Mary as stated in her poem is not stemmed because she merely gave birth to a child. No, rather we love her because she is the example for each of us that if we act out of love, if we humbly accept God in all our actions, great or mundane, if we see Christ in everyone and not merely in the supernatural, then we too will fulfill our share of God’s Divine plan. As children of God, we are called to be co-rulers, co-creators and co-heirs to the Kingdom of God. God desires to work with us. Why? Simply because he loves us! This means that each of us as individuals and collectively as a Church are a part of his plan of salvation, a direct link in the chain chosen by God for his purposes. The mission of the Church isn’t about satisfying our personal agendas or even the agenda of a single parish community, but all together we make up the Body of Christ. As a parish, as individuals on a daily basis, do we magnify the Lord? Are we just as joyful as the Mother of God in her song of praise, knowing that God also chooses us to be a part of his divine plan? Are we fellow workers with God as I Corinthians 3:9, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Let us pray for the Holy and Ever-Virgin Mary to show us truly what it means to live according to God’s commandments, to live and fulfill his will and to co-operate with Him and may we each look for God’s love, hope and resurrection in everything from the smallest acts to the truly miraculous ones.