Thursday, April 13, 2017

Get in that ditch and dig!

Many of you know that before my back surgery I was a commercial electrician.   I worked hard for many years and eventually became one of the lead foremen of a decent sized company.   During those years working my way through the ranks I noticed several different styles of foremen.  There were those who sat in the air conditioned trailer all day, only coming out once in a while to give more information to the crew and make sure they were still there.   Then there were those who got right into the ditch beside you and began to dig with their own hands.   That was the kind of foreman that my dad has raised me to be.   I didn't sit in the trailer.   I had my own tools.   I got out and did my own work.  Yes, I got interrupted... a lot.   I had to stop what I was doing and go help someone with this question, or to show them how to do this or that task.  My men knew, though, that if they wanted to find me I was somewhere close by working just as hard as they were.

Tonight is Holy Thursday.   We Catholics relive the scene where Jesus removes his vestments and kneels down to wash the feet of his disciples.  Our priest comes forward and kneels down before twelve people representative of the community and washes their feet.  It's a reminder of the humility that it takes to be a real leader.    One can be an effective leader, without being a good one.  The man who sees himself in the light of the Christian belief sees himself as a servant to his people.   He is there to help them achieve whatever task it is that he sent them out to do.   I remember one man in particular who would purposely cause people to fail.  He'd send them to do something without the right gear, or he'd tell them to hook up something that they had never seen.    The funny thing was he was one of the highest paid foremen for one of those companies.  The men working under him?  They worked less.   They didn't like him and their morale was as low as possible.

I found that people work harder when they feel good about themselves.  Not just in the construction trade, but in all facets of life.   Volunteers are more apt to do a good job if they are encouraged, and if the person teaching them how to do the job is right there with them.   They want someone to show them what to do that is filled with joy for being there, not someone who complains about all the work.  Jesus didn't complain about the foot washing.   He had every right to as a human didn't He?  Here the King of the universe, the very Logos of God, was being reduced to the role of a servant.  This was not something the homeowner did, ever!  This was the job of a slave!  Christ has given us a model of radical service that is demonstrated in His own actions.   He is our model of what it is like to be a real leader... and the important thing to remember is that each and every one of you is called to be just that.  A leader.  Someone who shows the world the way to Christ.

2235 Those who exercise authority should do so as a service. "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant." The exercise of authority is measured morally in terms of its divine origin, its reasonable nature and its specific object. No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.

The other day I was talking to someone about what it means to be Catholic.   They kept saying "Yeah but that's just how you do it, you're all 'super Catholic' and stuff. Most Catholics don't go to church all the time and don't pray like that.'   That's what we are called to though!  I don't pray the Liturgy of the Hours for myself... I pray it for the Church.. for each and every one of you.  I don't serve at the Church because it's always pleasant.  Some days I hurt!   Some days I am tired and I just don't want to do anything.  I do it because it's what Christ calls us to.  I am not on a different level than any of you.  I am not better than anyone, trust me on that one!  As St. Paul said, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.  Now we may have different vocations.. different ways of living in the world... different jobs.   But we are all called to the missionary and apostolate nature of the Church!

863 The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth."

You are called to go out and serve.  To serve your families.  To serve your neighbors.  To serve your friends, family, and coworkers.  That service will look different for each person, but it's our calling!  It begins though with a simple task... receiving the Sacraments.   We don't need to be qualified.   We don't need to be eloquent of speech.  You don't need to be the most intelligent person on the planet.  All you need to do is open your heart to Jesus Christ and receive Him and He will change you into what He has designed you to be.  He designed us for love.   Love.   That's what it should look like.  So don't worry if you aren't comfortable standing up before the crowd lecturing or greeting at the door.   God has a plan for you.  He has a job for you.  He has designed you specifically with certain skills and talents.  Use them for His kingdom! As we journey towards Good Friday I think a very apropos question to ask ourselves is one I saw recently on Instagram: "Is what you're living for worth His dying for?"   Remember if you want to find Him, He is somewhere working close by working just as hard today as He did 2000 years ago in Palestine. 

864 "Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate"; thus the fruitfulness of apostolate for ordained ministers as well as for lay people clearly depends on their vital union with Christ. In keeping with their vocations, the demands of the times and the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostolate assumes the most varied forms. But charity, drawn from the Eucharist above all, is always "as it were, the soul of the whole apostolate."

His servant and yours, 
Brian Mullins

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for The Mass of the Lord's Supper: April 13, 2017