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Breath of the Spirit
Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.
Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.
If we refuse to make his dreams our dream, we’re destined to one day go out of the same world we originally entered. Nothing will have changed for the better because we were part of this world.
July 23rd, 2017: SIXTEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
One of Ed Hays’ best-known stories – in his classic book Twelve and a Half Keys – concerns a young man encountering the devil one night on a movie theater parking lot. At first he thinks Satan’s there to buy his soul. But the devil quickly assures him he has warehouses full of souls; he doesn’t need another one. He’s interested in buying his dreams. If he can make that deal, he can change the future of the world.
Fortunately the young man refuses to sell.
But Ed hit on something with which our sacred authors can identify. Once we give up on our dreams, we’re giving up on changing our world for the better.
I often remind my students that the early Christian community is more concerned with having the faith of Jesus than in acquiring faith in Jesus. That’s a whole new faith ballgame. Both the historical and gospel Jesus’ faith is unique; it revolves around transforming our world by giving ourselves for others. If we refuse to make his dreams our dream, we’re destined to one day go out of the same world we originally entered. Nothing will have changed for the better because we were part of this world.
The main problem dreamers encounter is time. It constantly whittles away our hopes and plans for a better world. Things just never seem to turn out when and in the way we expect. It’s simply a lot easier to eventually “sell” our dreams and go with the flow.
As a priest for over 52 years, I can certainly vouch for that sellout. It was symbolic that on the morning I was ordained in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, I and my family had to weave our way under the scaffolding set up to hold the seats for the Vatican II participants. The dreams generated in that Council undoubtedly became the dreams of the majority of my North American College class of 1965. We envisioned a church quite different from the one in which we were being ordained.
For a while some of those dreams came true. Yet it was always a struggle. Eventually many of my priest brothers felt forced to leave the active ministry in order to realize those dreams. And especially after the 1978 Vatican regime change, most of our dreams were officially plowed under. Getting back to the faith of Jesus was put on the church’s back burner. For the sake of our ecclesiastical careers, or just to get some peace in our lives, lots of us mid-60s priests kept our souls, but sold our dreams for less than 30 pieces of silver. The fight just wasn’t worth it anymore.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Matthew’s Jesus clicks off three parables about patience in today’s gospel pericope. Echoing the Wisdom author’s call for hope, Matthew is convinced we Christians are always going to have to deal with weeds in our fields. We’re never going to be working in ideal situations or relating to ideal people. Yet no matter our imperfect day and age, we’re always to be “righteous” – to constantly build right relationships with God and those around us.
Following Paul’s advice to the community in Rome, we have to learn to accept our own weaknesses, confident that God’s Spirit always knows who we actually are. Jesus’ dreams might be as minute as a mustard seed or a cake of yeast. Yet if we weak ministers of his words and actions abandon those dreams, the next generation of dreamers will have to wait even longer for the world to change.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring for those who continue to dream? I personally never thought I’d live long enough to experience a Pope Francis. Yet . . . .
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