By Deacon John De Gano
I’m reminded of the joke where a person is forced up onto their roof to escape the rising flood waters. Three times he is asked if he needs help and each time he says he’s fine, that someone is coming to save him. Only they don’t, and he drowns.
When he stands before the Lord in judgment, his defense is that he was waiting for God’s intervention to save him, and that God let him drown. God responds that he sent three different modes of rescue transportation, but he refused their assistance.
What more could the LORD have done? Perform a miracle?
I bring this up because it seems to express our current mindset: we seem to be stuck in our own immobility brought on by “storm clouds” – the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, wars and rumors of wars, a weakened economy, social and political polarization, climatic change and/or just a general lack of faith.
Are we doing anything to improve our situation or are we just treading water?
Many times, we hear Jesus chiding his disciples for their lack of faith (leading to action).
Told that the people have no food (Lk 9:13), Jesus says, “Give them something to eat yourselves.” Jesus then feeds 5,000.
Caught in a storm at sea (Mt 8:10), the frightened disciples wake Jesus from his sleep only to be told how “little faith” they had. Hadn’t they just witnessed Jesus miraculously feeding the multitude? Why did they now doubt that he would protect them? (Which he does, calming the sea.)
In addition, Jesus responds to the cries of the Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, Lazarus’s sisters and the paralytic at the pool of five porticos in Jerusalem.
In each case, Jesus invites them to step out in faith (like he did with Peter when the two of them walked on water).
Sometimes that’s the best medicine: to have faith in God and faith in yourself.
“Be the change you want to see in the world,” or so says a popular, albeit simplistic, quotation misattributed to Mahatma Gandhi. In truth, change is difficult, and we find that we cannot change others.
But we can change ourselves and how we view the world. We can change our habits to become more conscious of our spending habits and our impact (or “footprint”) on the resources of the planet. We can voice solidarity with the poor and marginalized and put our money to work where it serves our Catholic and Christian values.
Good men and women (lay missionaries, clergy and religious alike) have done this in times of upheaval throughout our history. Many of the religious orders in the church came about by people responding to God’s call to “rebuild his church.”
Perhaps we’re entering a new renaissance of faith.
Before her death, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta challenged one of her many visitors to return home and “find your own Calcutta,” to make a difference there by bringing Christ and hope where it is needed.
What does your heart tell you? Can’t we be creative in our efforts right where we are, using the tools at our disposal?
Instead of sitting around criticizing or blaming others, we can begin to respond to God’s initiative by “feeding” our souls, each of us doing our part to grow closer to God and in relationship with one another (brothers and sisters by virtue of our baptism, called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the world through our love and action).
“Get up and walk,” Jesus told the paralytic. Change your world.
Today is no different.
Jesus says, “Give something of yourself.”
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.