Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seeing God's Hand at Work

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7)

How many times have we questioned God's will?  We do it all the time. Some may call it a sin but he is constantly doing things we that don't understand.  We have to learn to step back and see that he has a grander plan that at times we simply just don’t comprehend.  Things happen to us.  We get sick, a family member gets sick, a family member perhaps dies, we lose our job, we end a relationship, and any one of these things can cause us to look up to the heavens and ask “why?”  That is a perfectly reasonable reaction especially if we have established a close relationship to our God.  But we have to believe that God is control and that his plans are far greater than our plans.  We may not understand them, but we learn to trust them because he is God and we are not.  His providential hand will lead us to where he wants us to be.

Back in 1959, a young Irish lad decided to enter the seminary in Ireland, but he put a condition down that once ordained a priest that he wanted to be sent to Miami as a missionary.  His superiors scoffed at the condition and told him that he would be staying in his home diocese once ordained.  This young lad entered seminary anyways trusting in God’s plan for him.  In 1962, this he injured his jaw while playing Gaelic football.  Back then the medicine was not as advanced and this injury caused him severe headaches.  His doctor told him that once ordained, since his headaches grew worse during the winter, he should probably be sent to a warmer climate.  “Like Miami?” the young seminarian asked.  The doctor suggested Africa but since he knew the bishop well, the doctor put in a good word for him.  The seminarian received a beautiful, hand written note from his bishop which to this day he says that note “is as if God himself had written it.”  The bishop told him that he would send him to Miami once he ordained him and sure enough, in 1965, Father Jude O’Doherty arrived in Miami.  The rest is history.  He served as pastor of this parish from 1971-1982 when it was the largest parish in the state and the largest school in the southeastern United States.  He then went off to Epiphany where he still is pastor and built a beautiful church.  This past Friday he celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest and in front of a packed church with 5 bishops and well over 50 priests at his side, he celebrated Mass in this beautiful city he longed to live in and that he has called home since his arrival.

Who knew back in the 1959, that the young Irish lad with a passion for Gaelic football would become such a great priest an ocean away in Miami?  He was like a mustard seed when he entered seminary, that eventually grew to be a large tree where his parishioners would come to find shade and seek refuge when they didn’t understand God’s will.  But Monsignor O’Doherty always trusted in God’s plan for him even when things didn’t break his way.  God took someone small and turned him into a towering figure in our Archdiocese and a true model of the priesthood of Jesus Christ for he is always so generous to his people.  God’s ways are always perfect.

For the early Christians, that mustard seed came to symbolize the crucified Christ.  I preached about this on Good Friday: the rose trampled on the ground that now blossoms into something so magnificent.  Today’s readings are filled with images of trees full of life.  Yet look at the hand of God who took a dead tree, the cross, and turned it into the tree of life.  On that Good Friday, everyone looked upon that tree with horror as they saw Jesus die, but they failed to see that from death God was building something that we couldn't quite grasp. That man dying on the cross, so helpless and so fragile like the mustard seed, built something so big: the church! Now all of us take comfort in the branches and shade of this magnificent tree that is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ.

We sometimes can't see God's hand at work, but as we hear in the gospel, we don't know how or why it happens but he builds something beyond our understanding. We walk by faith not by sight St. Paul tells us. When things aren’t going our way we have to walk by faith.  When life keeps dealing us a hand that we cannot play, we play with faith.  When we think that there is no use to praying anymore because we think God has abandoned us, we pray anyways because we walk by faith and not by sight.  And we remember that those children of God that were discarded by the world because they were so small and insignificant are often the ones that God builds up.  So today step back and see that God has a greater plan for you.  You may have had a rough year or a rough couple of months or a rough week, but take heart and walk by faith and not by sight because God is in control.  If he can turn the tiny mustard seed into the biggest of trees, imagine what he can do in you, his beloved child, if you just step back and let God be God.