The Korean war had been raging for several years.  A little village came under heavy artillery fire.  Within the village stood a Catholic Church.

In front of the church, mounted on a pedestal stood a 10 foot statue of Christ.

But when the smoke of the battle cleared away, the statue had disappeared.  It had been blown off its pedestal and lay in fragments on the ground.

A group of American soldiers helped the priest and the parishioners collect up the fragments – and carefully put the statue back together again.

 

 

They found all the pieces except for the hands.  The GIs offered to fly the statue back to the United States to have hands made for the statue – but the priest refused. . .

“I have a better idea,” he said.  “Let’s leave it as it is – -without the hands.  And we will put a sign on the pedestal saying, “Friend, lend me your hands.”

“In that way,” the priest said, “those passing by will be challenged to see that Christ has no hands but ours with which to raise up the fallen. . . and they can know that Christ has no feet but ours to seek out the lost. . . no ears but ours to listen to the lonely. . . and no tongue but ours to speak words of comfort  to the lonely and oppressed.”

The story, supposedly a true one, makes clear the message of today’s Gospel.  Jesus calls  the twelve two by two — and sends them out to do ministry in his name.  He shared his divine mission with them.  He gave them his own authority and power.  No doubt they made mistakes – which is not surprising since they were ordinary people – they were not the Messiah. . .

In the first reading, we hear that Amos, was a simple shepherd.  And yet God sent him to preach a message of repentance to the people of Israel.

 

 

St. Paul, continues to preach and minister among those in the city of Ephesus – even though, as we learned last week — he has some disability – a thorn in his flesh – to keep him from being too elated.

And those 12 Jesus sends out in today’s Gospel?  Most of them were fisherman. . .

And yet God sends all of these people out to build the kingdom. . .  Ordinary people asked to do extraordinary things. . .

Many with authority in the Church these days have a fear of involving ordinary people in the work of the Church – thinking they might fall short of doing what they are supposed to do. . .

 

And yet the very teaching of the church which we received in the documents of Vatican II call for everyone to be involved in the work of the Church – the continued mission of Christ.

In the Constitution of the Church, known by its Latin title, Lumen Gentium (the light to the nations) we read such things as:

As the role of the ordained priest is to consecrate the bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of Christ, so the role of the layperson is to consecrate the entire world! [34]

Thus, the vocation of each layperson is to seek the Kingdom of God in his or her everyday work and to direct that work according to God.

By their lifestyles, their work, their prayer, their family life, their leisure and entertainment, and their hardships, too, laypeople give witness to the Light of Christ [34].

Mindful that Jesus sent out his disciples two by two – all Christians, especially those who share the special sacrament of married life, loudly proclaim this faith:  the presence of the kingdom of God, and the hope of blessings to come. [36]

For all of these reasons, Vatican II proclaims in the document on the laity – that your household, is the domestic Church:  where common prayer, shared liturgical life, and active hospitality are a part of life.

Families and households can provide the world with adoption of abandoned infants, hospitality for strangers and travelers, help to operate schools, advise and support young people, prepare others for the sacrament of marriage, teach religion, support others in marriage and family life, care for those in crisis, and assist the aged. . . [11]

This is all ministry that does not call for any expertise – only caring hearts.  Ordinary people asked to do extra-ordinary things

The Bible in its very first book of Genesis – starts with the story of how God made human beings partners in the work of creation.  And Christ made his disciples partners in the work of salvation.

Through our Baptism — a great responsibility has been laid on us all.  A great honor has been conferred upon each of us.  We are responsible for God’s world and for one another.  We are stewards of creation and co-workers with Christ: ordinary people asked to do extra-ordinary things.

 

Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you.  Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.

 

And now for this week’s Matthew moment:

 

So since I grew up on a farm, I guess it was only natural that at one time I wanted to be a farmer. . .

I also wanted to be a high school teacher – and —a fireman.  And after the death of our beloved pastor when I was in grade school – I wanted to be either a funeral director – because you got to drive a nice, big car —- or a priest – because then the Bishop would come to your funeral. . .

I often tell people, especially young people – that I smelled my way to a priestly vocation rather than hearing a call.  I used to frequently serve Benediction on the Fridays of Lent in our parish – and loved the way I smelled afterward – because of the incense —

often wearing the same clothes on Saturday – just so I could go around smelling myself all day – and in my little 12 year old brain —- I thought if I was a priest – I could smell like that all the time – I don’t know what happened to that. . .

Almost all of these possible vocations  miraculously came together for me—- in a place called Subiaco –a Benedictine monastery in Northwest Arkansas.

I thought I was in heaven because the first day I was there – I got sent to the field to bale hay!

I got a teaching certificate and ended up teaching American history and religion in our boarding high school for boys.

I went off to seminary — and was ordained in 1988 – so 30 years of priesthood under my belt ——— and, since we had our own fire department – I even got to fight a fire every now and then – mostly grass and forest fires. . .

The only thing I did not get to fulfill – was the role of a funeral director ———— although it probably explains why I like to have funerals — plus they give me my incense fix!!

So I was ordained as a Benedictine – and was in the monastery for 12 years ———– and one day—- it hit me —-I did not want to spend the rest of my life – around teenagers —————

not that there is anything wrong with teenagers — just remember – yours grow up ——— I just got a new crop every year.

 

So we will pick up the story next week —- come back – and hear how Jesus wants us to take care of ourselves —– after all the hard work of ministry we engage in ——- and to hear how this farm boy from Indiana—- and monk from Arkansas —- got to Kansas City!