Is 25: 6-10a; Phil 4: 12-14; 19-20; Mt 22: 1-14
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“I can do all things in him who strenghtens me.” These words from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (no relation to me) bring back a collection of memories. When I was in high school, I took the suggestion of Rev. Norman Vincent Peale in one of his books on the power of positive thinking and wrote that quote on an index card that I posted near my bed and looked at every day. I’d like to say I did so in an effort to fire me up to live a life of Christian discipleship – but in truth it was mainly in an effort to get up the courage to ask a certain young lady to the Prom. (Which, eventually, I did – but not until she had already accepted an invitation from someone else. But more about the transformational power of suffering on another day.)
That book was given to me by my Aunt Camille who was always doting on my brother and I and never missed an opportunity to pass along to us books that she thought we might enjoy or might help us along in some way in our lives. And whenever I think of Aunt Camille I think of Aunt Camille’s closet – this seemingly wondrous cabinet of treasures in a back room within which she always seemed to find some small toy or candy treat that my brother and I could enjoy.
And whenever I think of Aunt Camille’s closet…..well, it brings me back to the Church and why I like being Catholic. We have quite a big closet, too – filled with saints and sinners (often the same people) and a wide variety of spiritual practices and breathtakingly beautiful expressions of encounters with God preserved in books and in paintings and sculptures and architecture but, most of all, in our collective Catholic imagination and in the hearts of individual believers. It’s a messy closet, and always will be, perpetually frustrating those who are called by the Spirit to help us organize things.
Well, I’ve wandered a bit in these musings away from the scriptures, so I’ll bring myself back and conclude with the next verse St. Paul writes – “Still, it was kind of you (the Philippian community) to share in my distress.” Yes, we can do all things through Christ who strenghthens us. Still, it’s nice to have doting aunt around from time to time. Or a little brother. Or a whole community of saints and sinners to laugh with and cry with and share a common birthright as members of an utterly holy mess.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
(To purchase my book length reflections on the scriptures, go to www.twentythirdpublications. com. My most recent book is entitled, “Make Room for Scripture”.)