JOHN 20: 19-23 PENTECOST 2010
Fr. Bill and Fr. Miljenko, two priests with whom I live, when I am in Boulder, are useless. Now the parishioners at their parish are shocked to hear me say this. They know these priests as zealous and caring and active in ministry. But I live with them. Fr. Bill and Fr. Miljenko do not take out the trash. They do not put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, but just leave them in the sink. They do not empty the clean dishes from the dishwasher and put them away. If they want a clean cup from the dishwasher, they simply open the washer full of clean dishes, take the cup they want and close up the washer again. They do not walk the dog.
Now who does all these things? Me! Cinderella. These men are like the two wicked stepsisters. They are the goats on Jesus' left in the final judgment who will get there just due and I am the good sheep who will get eternal happiness for all my good deeds. But there is something wrong here with all my good deeds. While I am doing good deeds, I am at the same time grumbling, murmuring, feeling self pity and whining to myself. I make wonderful tuna fish, filled with chopped up onions, celery, radishes, and carrots. One day, I was finishing up the preparation when Fr. Bill came in and asked if I would share. I wanted to say, "NO, you are useless!" I said, "yes", but with a "no" in my heart. I am doing good deeds but I am not growing in my spiritual life. I am like a person who is trying to swim against the current. I am not moving spiritually, though I am very active.
When I was a little boy, I was rather useless around the house. I would do the chores I had to do, but nothing more. My Mom did so many things around the house that I could have helped share in the work. She did kindnesses, but she did them with love. Each of her kindnesses were like a drop of water falling up the stone of my heart. In time I would change, a little. Now I am helpful around the house, but not yet with love in my heart.
The Pentecost readings help me to see a different view. In Acts 2: 1-11 all the disciples receive the Spirit. Each disciple is unique and is given different talents by the Spirit. It is the same Spirit, but different individuals. In this way we are not all the same in the Church, nor should we expect every other person to act just the way we do. In the second reading, 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13, Paul points out that all of us together make up the one church. Gifts and persons complement one another. Each of us is the Christ presence to one another. I am supposed to see Christ in people who are different from me.
If I were to open the refrigerator and see all the tuna gone and the empty, dirty bowl in the sink, I could say, "Oh, I fed Christ." I would to be more like the readings challenge me to be. Instead, I usually say, "Christ, who ate my tuna fish?" Fr. Bill and Fr. Miljenko have gifts different from me. They may be more tolerant, and patient than I am. I am more gifted as a homemaker, a person who tidies up messes. Together we make a community called Church.
In the final reading from John 20: 19-23, when Jesus breathes the Spirit upon the disciples, he gives them a specific command. Forgive one another. Jesus knows his disciples. They are each unique individuals. They will have to accept the differences in one another. All together these disciples will become Church. To do this, become Church, each one will have to forgive one another, and at times forgive themselves for being too demanding that every one be and act alike. People are made in God's image and not in my image. I wonder if Christ ate my tuna fish? I'm hungry.