July 9, 2017: 14th Sunday A
A mom asked her son a simple question, “What does faith mean to you?” A 10-year old boy with autism named Josiah Cullen answered his mom, “Faith is more like falling back than climbing up. Obey the fall. Be the answer to God's beautiful catching of you.” Josiah beautifully demonstrates what Jesus revealed in the Gospel, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” Using Josiah’s explanation, then faith is not so much our own efforts to attain knowledge or to understand the mystery; instead, faith is our trusting and resting in the reality of God who made us, sees us, loves us, and is with us every moment of our lives. How would you explain in your own words what faith means to you? What role does it play in your own life?
What does it take to have a childlike faith? A few years ago, a White Castle parishioner was at her church office when a couple fleeing from Hurricane Katrina had a tire blowout in front of the church. The couple did not have resources to stay at a hotel but was looking for a place to stay. A little later, a young man drove up in a UHAUL truck looking for water for his friends. When the parishioner brought some water to the truck, she saw that the truck was full of New Orleans evacuees. The parishioner felt a prompting from God to open a shelter in her small town at the former Catholic school building. She first had doubts she could accomplish the task; she didn’t know how to establish a shelter or know from where the resources would come. She and her daughter contacted local folks to bring mattresses, food, and supplies. Surprisingly to her, the whole town showed up to help. Then the evacuees began to pour in. Eventually it reached 170 evacuees. Food would begin to run out, but somehow food would be delivered when it was needed. Local pharmacists tended to the medical needs of the elderly in the shelter free of charge. Even the evacuees pitched in to help. Evacuees who were skilled in any way tended to the needs of the building and the needs of others. For six weeks, a miracle blossomed from child-like faith and compassion of the townspeople. It was truly an example of faith as trusting in God’s providing hand.
Faith is also an invitation from God. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” He is speaking to those of us who are exhausted, collapsing from the weight of hard work, responsibilities, heavy burdens of self absorption. He is also speaking to those of us who experience moments of discouragement, loss of hope, fear, feeling ourselves wandering aimlessly, unable to believe in a better future. Jesus is inviting us to be yoked with him so as not to be pulled away by the yoke of the world and our selfish desires. We don’t typically see a yoke in the farms anymore in this age of electronically controlled tractors. But the kind of yoke in the day of Jesus was a wooden crosspiece that was fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they were to pull. So imagine you are yoked together with Jesus to pull your cart of burdens. Two pulling the cart is certainly better than one. With Jesus leading us in this joint yoke, we can be sure that he is leading us in the direction toward the Father. The mission Jesus offers is light and easy, and not beyond our ability. It is a mission we can handle, a commitment that is within our ability to handle, with God’s help.
How can we grow our faith? Do we have the desire to join ourselves to the yoke of Jesus by letting go and entrusting ourselves to Him? Pray in silence about whether you’re overburdened because you’re tackling more than you should. Ask in prayer for the wisdom to rely on God for the mission he is entrusting to you.