Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – July 9, 2017 – The readings for today can be found at:
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On Friday the NY Post shared a story about Will Seaton, a man from Indiana who may have won the “Sweetest Marriage Proposal Ever Award.” Will had been dating Ashley Schaus since 2010 – and from the very beginning of their relationship, Ashley explained to Will that she was one of the primary care-givers for her sister Hannah, who has Down syndrome and diabetes. If they were to date, Will needed to know that Hannah was part of, as Ashley put it, “the package deal.” From that day on, Hannah was invited to the majority of the couples dates.
When Will decided to ask for Ashley’s hand in marriage, he felt that he needed to include Hannah. So he got down on one knee in a field a flowers and asked Hannah to be his “best friend forever” as he presented Hannah with a ring, which had been a family heirloom.
Ashley said it was “the sweetest moment in my whole life watching Hannah be so happy and feeling so special.” At which point, Will looked at Ashley who was sobbing by now as she asked “Am I next?” Then Will got down on one knee and asked Ashley to be his wife. Hannah was thrilled at Will’s gesture to include her in his proposal explaining that “He takes me fishing and makes funny jokes. He makes me laugh and takes care of me.”
This beautiful story in the news really stayed with me all day. To see Ashley who is that caring for her sister Hannah that from the very start of her relationship with Will, she was so inclusive of Hannah in such a selfless way. . . To see this young man Will who had so fallen for Ashley, that he recognized the importance of caring about the things, the people that would matter to her and to not accept that as simply “part of the package deal” but to embrace it in such a meaningful way. . . they give witness to what a life-giving, truly loving relationship is all about.
So often when this Gospel passage is proclaimed, hearing Jesus admiring having the faith of “little ones” or like “children” is misunderstood. We can mis-characterize that to be innocent forgetting how mischievous kids can sometimes be or ignorant – ignoring how often kids can surprise us with an insight or deep, reflective question or even utterly dependent – forgetting how many children in poverty or war torn areas destroy that stereotype as they somehow survive in those unjust conditions.
Being child like isn’t about any of those stereotypes that we so often attach to the word and not what Jesus is getting at. The quality of childlike or little ones that Jesus admires is their ability to Trust. He is asking us to trust Him and God above all. To Trust that what Jesus tells us and reveals to us about His Father is true. To trust that what Jesus promises us will come about. To trust that when we love as He does – as He asks us to love – that’s how we will find Him, and find God in our lives now.
So what Jesus asks us to do is to trust Him and embrace a faith that is centered in the love and compassion of God – love that is not compromised by self-interest and rationalization, compassion that is not measured but offered totally and unreservedly, completely and without limit or condition.
May you and I who can sometimes be the wise and learned ones embrace that spirit of generosity and selflessness of the little ones just like Will, Ashley and Hannah so beautifully demonstrate to the world.