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Fr Francis’ Front Page Reflection Mar 17, 2023

Fourth Sunday of Lent
Fr Francis 2
Fr Francis 2

Are you inadequate enough for God to work through you?

The Bible loves a good underdog story. Moses, Gideon, David, Daniel, to name a few, were underdogs.

When they aren’t underdogs, the Bible loves a prophet with the odds stacked against them – think Jeremiah, Elijah or Timothy.

When they don’t have the odds stacked against them, the Bible loves a character with a weakness, think Sampson or Paul with his “thorn”. This is the pattern of our lives.

Often God seems to call these characters even when more apt characters seem available. God seems to delight in empowering his people. God seems to delight in upending worldly standards making his glory shine through from unexpected people – “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”

The Bible has no tolerance for supposedly perfect messiah figures. Even Jesus undergoes the humilities of baptism, of obscurity, of suffering and of death in order to fulfil God’s saving work.

In this weekend’s first reading, David – a boy – is chosen by God to hold a pivotal role in the salvation history of his people. The prophet Samuel is shocked but God corrects him: “people look at the appearance; God looks at the heart”.

As then, so now, God looks at the heart – your heart and mine. Are you too young? Good. Too old? Good. Not mobile? Good. Too busy? Good. Given up on this generation? Good. Going through a lot? Good. Not holy enough? Good. Not extroverted enough? Good. Not introverted enough? Good. Can’t stand in front of a small crowd? Good…. How long shall I make this litany?

God is calling us forward – I should say loving us forward – into his work of salvation, his great adventure. He delights in the young David, and he delights in us. Are you inadequate enough for God’s tenderness to cover you and for His glory to shine through you?

We are now hurtling full speed towards the launch of the strategic plan at Pentecost. How have you chosen, or will you choose, to get involved (with all your inadequacies)? Where in this tapestry of God’s work on the Sunshine Coast will you be?  If we turn up, God can work with that.

Let it not be asked of you and me: “[on the day of battle…] why did you tarry among the sheepfolds?” (Jdg. 6:12-16). A psalmist today might have asked, “Why did you tarry among the pews, once the strategic plan was underway?”

Friends, like the blind man, at some point Christ comes to us and puts his love upon our heart. We feel it and we don’t look at the world in the same way again. We cannot un-see and un-feel Christ with us. The tell-tale sign of this encounter with Christ is the incessant desire to tell everyone else about it – think of the apostles going across the globe after their three years with Christ.

So where do you see your faith in this Sunday’s Gospel? Do you feel like the blind man seated with hands out: maybe you hands are out to receive communion, but there is not yet a reaching out to others seeking Christ. Are you, like the man in the Gospel, up and about – you’ve encountered Christ but wonder “what now?” Or are you like the man saying to others “He opened my eyes and now I see!” “I encountered him in a new way and now I cannot un-see!”

“I see the same world with its triumphs and sorrows, nonetheless, I see God in the midst of it!” Like the Pharisees, there are voices today who say, “This man cannot have come from God!” If he were not from God, he would not be among us and we would not have encountered him anew each day. Have you encountered him? Are you willing to help others encounter him?

In the strategic plan, the groundwork is now almost laid for our “Yes” or at least our own encounter with Christ. May God strengthen you and me to respond to his call.

 God bless

Fr Francis Fernandes.

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