February 26, 2017
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Krista Catherine Mapapalangi listen up!
As we welcome you into our tribe, our beliefs, our faith, with the help of today’s readings, I am going to be so bold as to give you a bit of advice for how to live your life, plus, there are a few things we need from you so that we can continue our own journey in the faith. I’ve got seven items.
One. Krista, you will always be loved. Even if your mother herself were to forget you—which she never will—God will never forget you. And through the action of your baptism today, we—all of us—pledge to be the love of God for you. No matter who you become, or how confused and lost you feel. No matter if make terrible mistakes—in fact, especially then—this Christian community will never abandon you either.
But in return, Krista, we look to you to be a fresh, new reflection of God’s gracious love and activity in our lives. Allow us to reach back to the roots of our own creation through your innocence, sincerity, and newness and see again what was so clear when we were tiny and young.
We are like the “big brother” – four years old – who gazed down on his newborn, infant sister and whispered, “Tell me where you came from, I’m beginning to forget.”
Two. Krista, when it comes to food and drink, as best you can, stay the way you are now. When you’re hungry or thirsty, simply let someone know. Otherwise, don’t give it any thought. As you get older, this will get harder and harder to do.
I for one, spend far too much time thinking about what I’m going to eat and drink. And I fear the big people around you do the same. As I ride my bike home from the parish in the cold, dark rain I savor my meal and a glass of wine. So, I plead guilty to this pagan vice.
Show us how not to worry. And show us how to truly savor the flavors that come our way.
Three. Krista, regarding your clothes, just know that your true beauty lies underneath, and always will, no matter what size or shape you grow into. I’ll warn you now, that at certain times in your life, you will look in the mirror and cringe. Our culture will do all in its power to convince you that you don’t measure up. But always remember that you are a work of art sculpted by God. Don’t let anyone ever shame you into trying to be someone you’re not. . . . And, while you’re still allowed, spend as much time naked as you can!
Four. Krista, pay attention and heed your generation’s eventual version of the saying “Don’t worry. Be happy.” You don’t know this, but that saying takes most of us back to Bobby McFerrin’s hit song in 1989. Yet, the saying could just as well have derived from Jesus’ words in today’s gospel. Don’t worry, instead, rely on God.
You see, the help that God offers is just like your mom’s, and she will never, ever forget you. So, take your worries to your mom, your godparents, your grandparents, those who carry you in their hearts. And when none of those people are around, and you feel lonely for the first time in your life, or the hundredth time, talk to God about your worries. Then pause in silence . . . and listen to God’s response in your prayer.
Five. Krista, we count on you to remind us of the true giftedness of life itself. We are so wrapped up in our own struggles and woes, we often lose sight of the gift. Soon enough—too soon really—you will discover that, for most of us, if we clocked how much time we fret over perceived survival versus how much time spent contemplating the giftedness of life, fret would win, going away!
Instead, Krista, show us how to be like you. Or like a friend of mine, Paul, who when you ask, “How are you?” he responds with earnest enthusiasm, “I’m grateful!”
Six. Krista, while you have no idea what it is now, I am compelled to warn you against “tomorrow thinking.” As we heard in our reading, when tomorrow comes, it will come with its own worries—and it will be called today. Instead, focus on the present, which, by the way, is not without its own troubles. Take it, as they say, one day at a time.
It comes down to two choices, really: your life can become an anxious project focused on future survival, or it can be a present gift sustained by God, allowing you to live in the moment. Please continue to show me, all of us, how to live in the moment.
Seven. Krista, it all comes down to this: Do not try to fill the God-space in you with something other than God. You can spend a lifetime looking for substitutes—money, fame, career, friends, lovers—but they will never fit snugly into that special space in your heart reserved only for God. Nothing else satisfies.
So, Krista, let’s rub you with oil and get you wet, and properly welcome you into our faith community!