A Reflection for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Imagine writing a letter and sending it back in time to your high school self. What advice would you proffer that young person, the one who had already figured out the world? Maybe, “Don’t have that last drink down by the river.” Or something like: “You’re going to want to climb the grain elevator. Don’t. Just don’t. That I’m alive to write this to you is a miracle.”
Just as likely, it would be advice about what you should have done, how you might have seen things differently. “Listen, your parents are not the enemy. Enjoy them while you can.” Or even, “Do you know whom you should have dated?”
I have always said: “You can learn a lot of the Gospel from country songs.”
I think someone has written a country song about this, but that only illustrates what I have always said: “You can learn a lot of the Gospel from country songs.”
You must wonder: Which did more harm? What you did or what you left undone? Put another way, back then, how did you resist grace, shut out what God might have asked of you?
When I look back at my high school years, I can see how I divided the world into my small circle of friends and everyone else who might make fun of me, exclude me or hurt me. In my letter, I would tell my high school self to lighten up, to take a few more risks.
Which did more harm? What you did or what you left undone? Back then, how did you resist grace, shut out what God might have asked of you?
Now, imagine the letter you should write to your current self. Let’s be honest. You probably know what you should say. You may not want to admit it, but you sense there are things you need to let go of and, more important, new places to go with your life. What should you be saying to yourself right now?
What keeps you from honestly believing that
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved
In him we have redemption by his blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us (Eph 1:4-8)?
Maybe you should write out these verses from Ephesians, pray for greater faith and then begin your letter.
The purpose of this little exercise is to see how you currently resist the grace of God. You may even discover that a pattern set in high school remains.
The purpose of this little exercise is to see how you currently resist the grace of God. You may even discover that a pattern set in high school remains. Yes, the prophet Amos was rejected. So, too, were the disciples sent out by the Lord. But what good does it do for us to imagine all those others who reject the Lord, who close themselves down? We cannot change who they are or what they do. We can only change ourselves. But that alone might make all the difference in the world.