Saturday, August 12, 2017

Those times when you only see one footprint....

August 11, 2017

Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin

Lectionary: 411

DT 4:32-40

PS 77:12-13, 14-15, 16 AND 21

MT 16:24-28

One of the things that drew me towards the Catholic faith, and trust me there were many, many things, was the beauty of the story of Saint Francis of Assisi.  One night I sat down to watch the movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.”  I wasn’t surprised when I saw the men flocking to this itinerant beggar who had in such a dramatic way left behind everything and everyone in his life to dedicate himself to Christ and His Church.   When he stripped down naked before the bishop, declaring that from now on his only father was the Father in heaven, I was maybe even a little choked up.  Then came on the screen a gorgeous actress(I may have even had a little bit of a crush on her!), playing the humble and meek Clare of Assisi.  The beauty of her chaste relationship with Francis and her desire to love God entirely was something that moved and stirred in my soul.  Francis walked in the footsteps of the Master.  Clare followed his examples to walk in the same path.  Then here was I, a most imperfect man, wanting to do the same.

In our age of rationalism and scientism, we often try to dismiss God from our daily lives.  We push him to the side and forget the witness of untold generations of men and women to the miracles in their lives.  We believe that we know better than those uneducated and ignorant men and women who came before us, who comprise 98% of all the humans who ever lived.  There is one thing though that never fails to attract.  Authentic witness.  The reason so many flocked to Francis at that time was not from miracles, comfort, or even style.  It was because he lived a life of poverty and tried to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.  A saying often attributed to Gandhi goes something like "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

That is a powerful reminder to us today to remember who we are called to be.  St. James (James 2:15-18) reminded us time and again in his letters that just praying for others in their time of need is not enough.   We must be willing to give them what they need as well.  “Be well and warm!”  How useless is that to the man who is freezing as we walk away in our double coats.   There are many who say the church is shrinking, that people are leaving in droves... And maybe they are.  There are those who argue it is a good thing and others who claim it is a travesty.  The answer to both situations?  To be authentic Catholics.   To take one step at a time, on the very tracks that Christ has walked before us.  In each difficult circumstance, to carry our cross with dignity even when we are given nothing but insult and ignominy.

My grandmother had one of those footprints in the sand posters in her living room while I was growing up.   I think everyone has heard or seen it by now.  It goes on to say that there were two footsteps in the sand when you walked side by side and only one when Christ carried you.  I think an even more appropriate image of discipleship is for there to only ever be one set of footsteps… Christs with ours inside of them.   Just like my daughter used to put her feet on mine and make me walk around, sometimes we just gotta put our feet on Christ’s and go where he goes.    When she was just a baby and it snowed, she would follow right behind me.   That way she never had to step in the snow, just in the impressions that I had already made.  We too need to learn that lesson.   Then to be like Saints Francis and Clare, and live an authentic Christian life that will draw others to it… not because of anything we did, but because of everything He has already done.