What’s In Your Spiritual Toolbox?

spiritual tools

3rd Sunday of Easter

Deacon Tom Vert

Date Preached: April 18, 2021

I need another tool for the workshop!

I have a secret to share…it’s something I do and I am sure many other people who do “fix-it” around the house also do.

When I have a new job to do, many times I will find a way to add a new tool into my workshop collection.

Last year I had to re-stain our Adirondack chairs so of course I needed a Makita sander and a Dremmel tool for the small spaces!

Previously on another job, I had to drill a fairly large hole in a wall for some wires to go through, so a kit of 10 hole saw blades was required!

All of these help to possibly make me a better handyman than I was before?

I would propose to you that the same theory is brought forward in the readings today to enhance our spiritual life and continue to help us grow.

Our spiritual journey is not to be stagnant.  Once we are confirmed we aren’t supposed to stay at the same level, but instead as our life goes on, we are to enhance, improve and strive to grow in the Christian faith.

When Jesus appears to the disciples in the gospel today we hear this phrase: “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures”.

Jesus held a teaching moment with the disciples because the Old Testament became understandable only in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  He had to open their minds so they understood what had happened.

Why?  In order for them to become as Jesus says in the reading “to be witnesses” “to testify”, and to spread the gospel and to grow the Christian faith.  They needed tools in their toolkit, the same as I need a new tool for a new task I am undertaking.

We see the results of this teaching in the first reading today.  Right after the lame man was healed through the power of Jesus’s name by Peter and John, Peter speaks to the people.  He explains the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection.

He also says that the people are forgiven for what they did as they acted out of “ignorance” in asking for Jesus to die.

This word ignorance is important as sometimes we think the word means dumb or stupid.  But it truly means “lack of knowledge” or we don’t have enough tools in our workshop.

If we are ignorant in the faith, it means we have more to learn.  We need to take it as a challenge to learn as much as possible.

Now Carmela will tell you that I have been filling my toolkit with books for many years and I have a nice library of information to help me on my journey of faith and to help my preaching.

However, Christ doesn’t say this is for clergy only..its not for bishops, priests, deacons and nuns only!  All of us are called to learn more about God, his actions in the world, and how to get closer to Him each and every day.

For each of us, the tools may be different as each of us is different – some are spiritual plumbers, some carpenters, some roofers or excavators.  Each is called to build their tools for the mission God has called us to.

This is what the psalm today teaches us…to ask for God’s help to find the right tools for us.

We hear the words “Answer me when I call” and “be gracious to me and hear my prayer” and “let the light of your face shine upon us”.

Each of these tells us that it is not a journey for us to walk alone – trying to find the right tool for the right job is easier if we ask God to show us what He wants for us.

Now this is not just about reading books and prayer, but it is also about recognizing the experiences we go through in life add to our toolbox.

I love the verse from 2nd Corinthians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

It is so beautiful, because it says that as we go through troubles or challenges, we learn how God comforts.

So when we see someone else struggle with a similar challenge, we have this tool, this gift from God of knowing how he acts; and we can then bring that tool, that knowledge, that love and compassion and empathy to the other person.

A good example is that when I see a family struggle with palliative care and end of life issues for their family, I recognize that God was with us when my father-in-law and my own father and our families faced the same challenges.

I remember the people that God sent into our lives and provided comfort from the chaplain, to the nurses, and other patients that all brought support and love.

That is love that God calls us to share, the tool that he has strengthened us with to comfort those in need.

St. John then tells us in the 2nd reading how we know if we are using the skills and tools the right way.  How do I know if I am using the sander the right way?

He says “now by this may be sure that we know him” – or a better word is abide in him – the same word that is used with the vine and the branches — that closeness.

We abide in him when we obey his commandments – and there are really only two – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and straight, and to love your neighbour as yourself!

Loving God and loving each other is the mission, it is the journey!  It has been said that to “love another is to see the face of God”, so that is what we are called to do with mercy and kindness.

So this week in your prayers please ask God for help to see what is your next step on the journey of faith by asking him “please Lord, I need another tool for the workshop!”

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