16th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: July 19, 2020
What do you take for granted? Who do you take for granted? Perhaps some of you take your spouse for granted, or others perhaps take your children for granted, or others perhaps take your parents for granted, or others perhaps take your church for granted, or others perhaps take your faith for granted, or others perhaps take the beauty of creation for granted. Is there anything or anyone that you take for granted at times?
Prayer is not about saying the right words, it is about leading us into the presence of God. Then we become completely attentive to everything and everyone around us. We see with the eyes of God. We know that our spiritual life is fruitful when we no longer take anything or anyone for granted. It is about becoming attentive to the Kingdom of God in our midst.
Jesus speaking about the Kingdom of God makes it clear that the Kingdom of God is in our midst, very near to us. But, it is not usually found in powerful figures, or in military force, or in riches and the wealthy, nor in the famous. So, it often goes unnoticed, hidden to most of us. It is often hidden among the weeds of life, hard to see like the smallest mustard seed, or not seen at all like the yeast within baking bread.
Sometimes the Kingdom of God is hidden in our midst, hidden even in the weeds of our life.
During the Covid Pandemic Lockdown I think that there were a number of things that we realized we take for granted in our lives. Even just the possibility of coming to church for the Mass. You can perhaps think of some things you realized you took for granted before.
But, I want to mention just one thing that I came to realize so clearly that we can take for granted.
During this time, people could not be visited in hospitals or nursing homes. That included us as priests. That meant that many people had to die without the Sacraments and others had to die alone. To die alone or to not be able to be with a loved one as they were dying. That is something we just took for granted before.
Sometimes people ask me if it is difficult to be with people as they are dying. Something I have had to do many many times through the years as a priest. But, rather than seeing this as difficult, I see it as a privilege. To be with someone who is dying, to bring them comfort as they take that step into eternal life. To be able to pray with them, to hold their hand, to anoint them with the Sacrament of the Sick.
Early on in the lockdown one of our long time parishioners was dying in the hospital. I could not go in for the anointing. But, her two sons and elderly husband did get permission to be with her at the end. So, we arranged a phone call on speaker and I said the prayers for them and then when it was time when I would normally anoint the person, I had her son make the sign of the cross on his mother’s forehead.
We can take for granted something like the Sacraments, being present with someone as they are dying. But, surely the Kingdom of God was present in that moment as this son made the sign of the cross on his mother’s forehead while the priest prayed over the phone.
I also realize we take for granted the church funeral rituals. We are blessed as Catholics with ritual ways to pray together at the time of death. During the lockdown, this was so limited, no church funerals, only a small number able to gather at the graveside. I realized how much the funeral rituals are a gift and blessing and something we perhaps take for granted.
The Kingdom of God is in our midst, even hidden at times in the weeds of our life. We need to be attentive and patient to notice the presence of the Kingdom especially when we are in the midst of the weeds of life. Are you taking anyone or anything for granted? Let the Spirit sigh within you, to see with the eyes of God and recognize the Kingdom of God hidden within your life.