I find that “spring cleaning” often turns into summer cleaning, fall cleaning, winter cleaning….overall “digging out” the mess I’ve created! Every few months I need to spend a good couple of hours going through the stacks of paper, notes, etc. that I’ve piled up in my office. Unless you’re really organized and a ‘neat nick’ (which I am not), we all find ourselves in cleaning mode every now and again. That happened to me the other day. I couldn’t stand the mess and the piles any longer so I spent a good chunk of Tuesday evening sifting through that which found its way into my world. I really felt that a Tuesday in August was a good time to finally file some notes I created last Christmas and from this year’s Holy Week! Ugh….
But of the many “treasures” I found in the somewhat organized piles of paper, the one that stood out for me was the copy of a eulogy from a funeral I presided at over a year ago. At Maureen’s funeral, the family friend who delivered this particular eulogy did such a superb job, I asked him if I could have a copy. He agreed and shared one with me. In the midst of my August cleaning, I found myself revisiting and relishing the heartfelt thoughts he expressed at Maureen’s mass of Christian Burial. He started out the eulogy in this way:
“There is a story told of a little girl whose teacher handed out art paper to the class and told them to draw whatever they wanted. As the teacher moved around the room, she stopped at the little girl’s desk and said, ‘What are you drawing?’ The little girl stopped, looked up, and said, ‘I am drawing a picture of God.’ The teacher smiled and said, ‘But honey, no one knows what God looks like.’ Without hesitation, the little girl looked up at the teacher and said, ‘But when I finish, they will!”
The eulogist continued on and spoke so eloquently about Maureen and if you knew her, you would know that you got a glimpse of God. Her prayer life, her faith, and the way she passionately lived life for others indicated the beautiful way in which this woman so deeply embraced her call to be God-like. It was a moving and inspiring eulogy. I was glad to find it and read it again.
But I love that story about the little girl. No one knows what God looks like. Oh yeah!? When I get finished, they will!! What a great challenge for us who are alive today! It’s one thing for someone to tell stories about us when we’re gone and being buried, but what about the stories we are creating right now as we walk the face of the earth? What will others say about us? What I love about this simple little story is the profound questions it leaves in my head and heart: In whose image am I living life? What kind of God-like image do people see in me? Am I truly reflecting the beauty and compassion of the Divine in daily life?
We are now into our second week of our Season of Social Justice and this year we are confronted by the challenge of what it means to be “agents of change.” Likewise on this 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the gospel tell us about Jesus’ passion to set the earth on fire. It’s not exactly a picture of Jesus as a gentle and meek soul, but rather we see the image of someone who is passionate for change. In a rather unusual monologue, He indicates that He’s come to stir things up and bring about a change. His fire is not one that destroys but rather one that purifies. God’s passion is like a fire that comes in overflowing measure.
Maybe this season of Social Justice –indeed our entire life as disciples– is a time for us to be like the little girl drawing a picture of God. It’s really us drawing a picture of ourselves. What will God look like as a result of our passion, our commitment to others, our generosity of heart, and our pledge to make the world Holy?
Thank you for being here today. Thank you for reflecting God’s image through your prayerful presence and your expression of hospitality to those around you in Church today. Thank you for showing others, especially new people today, what good church and God’s welcome looks like!
Enjoy these August days!
Father Tom Hurley
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