Have you ever been new at something and just really wanted to get it right?
You’ve been given an unprecedented opportunity and all you can think is, “Don’t screw it up.”
It happens to me all the time.
Even though I’ve been working at St. Francis for two years and been ordained a priest for almost ten years, every day I pray to God, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me turn this dear lovely church into an ecclesiastical train wreck.”
I see other people engaged in new endeavors doing the same thing. A friend of mine and her husband are preparing for their first baby, due to be born at the end of November.
Of course, my friend Sara is nervous, wondering if she can handle the pain of labor, wondering if her child will turn out to be a ballet dancer or a serial killer or whatever.
But her mom is also a friend of mine, and talks to me about whether or not she’ll be a good grandmother.
Sara’s mom, Nancy, will tell me she’s planning to offer no parenting advice to Sara because she doesn’t want to be overbearing and interfering, while five minutes later Sara will be telling me she’s so glad she’ll be able to rely on her mom’s parenting advice.
The two of them get so worked up I start to wonder if I’m being too blasé about being a godmother for the first time.
Is it possible to negatively influence an infant in Iowa all the way from Indiana?
Could I singlehandedly turn him away from God and the Church and the Kansas Jayhawks and everything else I love if I don’t do everything exactly right?
Whether it’s a new job or a new baby or a new church, we all feel nervous when we’re venturing into the unknown and the stakes are high.
This is the situation in which we find Jesus in our Gospel today.
Jesus has traveled very far from his home in Galilee. He is ministering in Tyre and Sidon, what would feel to people in his time like a foreign country.
He is not among the Jews, he is in a country of Gentiles, Syrians and Phoenicians, foreigners with whom Israel has rarely been on good terms. Continue reading