Sunday, August 23, 2015

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are called to be servants: to our Parent; to the person they created us to be; to our brothers and sisters, especially the ones we find most inconvenient; and to the glorious canvas upon which all this living art is pouring itself out. Yes, this truth is hard. We struggle against it mightily. But the more we chase freedom, the more we find ourselves in conflict with those whom we are meant to serve. Pick a hot-button issue, dig down to its source, and you will likely find someone struggling to rid themselves of the obligations that bind them to some other element of our family. We crave liberty; and yet over and over again, we end up oppressing everyone, even ourselves. Yes, we can taste and see so many exotic things by rebelling against our calling, but grace will not be among them.

So choose grace, right? Except we all know that grace is oftentimes the last thing we want to taste or see, because it can be bitter and humiliating. I recently began my third year of work as a campus aide at a public middle school. One of my duties is lunch supervision, which includes asking the students to clean up after themselves, and then doing it for them after they inevitably leave their trash behind. So there I was on the first day of classes, sweeping up spilled salad, when this new student wonders aloud about what it is like to be a janitor. I bristled. And then I remembered the real janitor: who gives more of himself than anyone else at that school; who remains kind and joyful, no matter how often his generosity is taken advantage of; who shares his friendship abundantly with children and adults alike; who is a servant in the noblest sense of the word. And I was ashamed. Grace shows us the ugly truth when we choose to ignore our calling, and that is always beautiful. So yes, choose grace.