About a year ago, I wrote this piece about avoiding pride in my faith life, even in things that I consider somewhat second-nature. Be sure to see the other Worth Revisiting posts today.
This past weekend, friends of ours received a blessing after Mass in honor of their thirtieth anniversary. Most of their children were with them, including their oldest daughter, who is Deaf. Because I was once an interpreter, they asked me to interpret Mass. I accepted gladly, since that was always my favorite interpreting job. I always did my best work on Sundays, allowing God to use me and doing my very best to disappear while I was there.
On Sunday, I prayed hard to have God help me and do the interpreting for me. It has been years since I did any kind of interpreting, and I have only done so with the new Mass translation 3-4 times. I was really nervous about it, but God answered my prayers and helped me throughout the Mass. (I was really nervous about the homily, which was given by our deacon. He never writes his homilies down and they’re always different every time he preaches. Even though I had gone to the Vigil Mass, I knew – and was proved right – that his homily on Sunday morning wasn’t going to be the same. In fact, there was only a small part that was the same, and the rest was vastly different.)
I had practiced the songs, I had practiced the creed, and I had survived our deacon’s beautiful (but slightly erratic and ADD) homily. When we got to the Our Father, I thought, “Oh, this is one part of the Mass that hasn’t changed a bit! I know the Our Father! I’ve got this!”
And that’s when God reminded me gently that I do no, in fact, “have this.” Suddenly, in the middle of the prayer, I did something that can only be desribed as a DERP. Big time. As in, I have no clue what the heck I was saying with my hands, but it was NOT the Our Father. As in, I suddenly realized that I cannot interpret Mass without God’s help, and I immediately apologized in my head and begged for help.
The rest of Mass went smoothly, with minimal hiccups.
Lesson: When you rely on God, truly rest in His mercy. Don’t assume you’ve got any part of it, because, in reality, you don’t. None of us truly do. We’re all getting by with His help, including those of us like the rich young man of Sunday’s gospel. The more we rely on our own understanding, the harder it is when we fall. But, eventually, we will fall. We will have to remember that it’s God’s providence that we rely on and not our own understanding or power. It’s not our possessions that secure our lives, and it’s not our own abilities. It’s God’s love and protection and mercy. When we make all the rest of the stuff our idols, treating them (and ourselves) as the source of our success, we are eventually going to be reminded that it’s not so.
Is it any wonder, then, that when we look at people in poor or persecuted countries, we see Christians with great joy and hope and love? How is this so? It’s so because they rest in God’s providence and don’t think there’s any better way than that. They rely on God and trust Him to care for their needs. They keep their eyes on the prize – Heaven – and don’t get bogged down in worldly affairs to the point of being kept from entering Heaven. They know that, like a camel going through a needle’s eye, they cannot get to Heaven without God, and they put their trust in Jesus to bring them there.
Do we do the same? Or are we cruising along with our idols, racing towards a big DERP of some kind?