Risky Faith

I love to go see live music, there is nothing like the energy of hearing music being played in real time.  It isn’t studio polished or in perfect time.  Mistakes are made, but they add authenticity and color to the performance even if you don’t notice them – especially if you don’t notice them.

My preference is improvisational live music. I love not knowing what is coming next and whether or not exciting new sounds will be created on the spot.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. What I love most is the energy behind the risk-taking that is inherent to improvisational music.  Playing before a paying audience, those musicians take a huge risk and there is no guarantee the audience will appreciate or get what they are doing.  But the reward is high if they nail it.

Life is pretty colorless when you don’t take risks.

In one of Pope Francis’ recent morning homilies, he urged us to be risk-takers. Commenting on the stories of those who took a risk to get to Jesus, he noted that the men who made a hole in the roof to lower their paralytic friend to Jesus took a risk, the Canaanite woman whose daughter was possessed took a risk, the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment took a risk…the disciples who dropped everything for Jesus took a risk.

Improvisational musicians don’t just get on stage and play random notes without some foundation and preparation, however, and these Biblical examples didn’t put faith in Jesus and what he could do for them without some idea of who Jesus was and what he was about.

Pope Francis has consistently called us to the risk of going out into the peripheries, but it would be foolish to do that without preparing our souls.  But soul-nourishing only to stay in the well-rehearsed, choreographed safe zone will produce a colorless and lifeless Christianity. The Holy Father called it a view from the balcony.  And if that’s the only view we have, then we are missing out on the abundant life Jesus promised us.

You Have Been Commissioned

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Feast of the Ascension 2017

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I remember watching part of a college graduation address where the speaker said, “With this degree you are commissioned to go into the world and make a difference.” The imagery conjured up in my mind by the use of the word “commissioned” was pretty powerful. I thought about the commissioning of military officers and the responsibility they took on for the lives of their subordinates but also the lives of those they protected. To me the word meant something very serious and solemn. It meant huge responsibility and expectation.

In the Bible, Jesus gives what we call the Great Commission:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matt 28:19-20a)

The word commission makes this more than a suggestion or a hope. There is an expectation, a responsibility, and a mandate. Of course, did you wake up this morning thinking about how you would fulfill the Great Commission today?

Sharing the Faith is not just something we should do; it is something we must do. The key is that you don’t need to speak all the time to share. It will be through your life of stewardship that others will be able to see Jesus. By giving of yourself, by always responding to the call, and by surrendering all to God, you will lead others to become disciples, to seek out the sacraments, and to observe His teachings. Yes, responding in full to the Great Commission, great things can happen.