What is it that makes our youth go to the Catholic Heart Work Camp – or to TEC – or to sleep in cardboard boxes like we did at Shantytown last week? Most teens I know would rather stay at home and play with the X-box or playstation or whatever the latest gadget is. Why would they give that up?
What is it that makes our adults volunteer to teach religious ed, to be lectors and singers and ministers of holy communion? And greeters, ushers, gift bearers, church cleaners and decorators, parish council, cemetery board, buildings and grounds.... People are INVOLVED! But why?
We visit the sick, make meals for funerals, …and why in the world would anybody go to a funeral? That’s no fun…. But in fact, some of our parishioners went to TWO funerals Saturday morning. Why?
This being Memorial weekend – we also ask - why would any man or woman leave their home and family to go to a seemingly god-forsaken corner of the world?
We can’t solve all the world’s problems… it’s impossible for us. Yet – we all feel PULLED to be part of the solution – to give whatever we can of our time and talents to make the world a better place. So - What is it that compells us to do that?
You can probably offer some very valid answers to all those questions… but I have an analogy I’d like to share which might lead us to one answer which we find in today’s readings.
I like tea – hot or cold, I don’t care – BUT – My sweet tooth demands that there’s got to be sugar in there.
So, I have here a jug of tea…and some sugar - I like to use this natural sugar, which is more course than the white sugar most of us are used to – so we'll pour this sugar in here....there...is that all we gotta do? No. It's not enough to just sit in the bottom... The sugar has to dissolve... To become part of the tea.
What are the two things we could do to get it to dissolve? First, any sweet tea drinker knows that sugar won't hardly dissolve if there’s any ice in your tea.... It's best if you heat it up. Second, you gotta move it around. All that sugar sitting comfortably in the bottom isn't doing a bit of good... You need some turbulence to get it moving.
Before I go on - there's a technical term You may remember from 5th grade science. When mixing something into a liquid - the liquid is called the 'solution' and the thing being dissolved is called the 'solid'. That’s an important thing to remember, otherwise what I’m about to say may not make sense – so remember – in this case – the TEA is the solution.
I usually have a cup of hot tea each morning at work. And I use a clear mug just like this, so it’s easy to watch the sugar dissolve. Ever notice as you stir your tea how some of the sugar seems to dissolve quickly and other crystals just seem to keep hanging on? Eventually, it all dissolves, but some of the sugar tries to maintain its own form and personality rather than giving-in to become part of the tea.
As Christians, we are like sugar in tea. When we're baptized, we become part of God's family - it's like be dropped into a huge world-sized glass of tea. The good news is that unless we remove ourselves from the glass before being dissolved - we WILL be dissolved....eventually. Most of us try to move to the coolest part of the tea - away from the heat - and away from that spoon called the Holy Spirit which tries and tries to stir up our hearts to Love. Like the big wind that drove the Apostles out of the upper room in the first reading, the Holy Spirit can stir US up by swishing that spoon in alternating directions - creating turbulence in our lives. If we avoid the turbulence, we avoid being dissolved.
Now – like the sugar, In order to be dissolved, we have to give up our own form and personality - give up our self-centeredness and ego - to become part of the 'solution'. That solution is the Love of God... since God is Love... we are being stirred and dissolving into God. We become Love.
The more we practice Love and doing 'what Jesus would do', the more we become transparent in the tea until we cannot be distinguished from the tea...just like you can’t SEE the sugar in the tea anymore, we cannot be distinguished from God, because our Love makes us transparent.
In order to make the world a sweeter place, all of us are compelled by the Holy Spirit to come out of our comfort zones to try to make a difference. In the end, we MUST become part of the solution. God is the solution. Let your hearts be stirred into action.