This reflection is for Saturday March 14.
Cardinal John Henry Newman once said, "Nothing would be done at all if one waited until one could do it so well that no one could find fault with it."
We probably should not need to be reminded of that – yet somehow I think we do. It is not uncommon for us to withdraw from situations or settings when we feel inadequate or less than capable of participating in a way which we believe would be pleasing to everyone. But the function of using that which God has given us is really not at all about perfection, nor is it about pleasing others. No! God has gifted us with gifts and with skills and we ought to have the courage to use those to the betterment of the world in which we live. We struggle with that concept. We want so badly to have the acceptance of ‘the other’ that we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of ‘giving up’ or ‘checking out.’
Living a life of faith means that we sometimes live a life of vulnerability. Living faith is really about taking risks. We risk loving the other even when we know that we will never do it well enough that no one will find fault with it. We risk feeding the hungry, knowing that we will never feed every mouth and there may be those who criticize our efforts. We risk living with a sense of purpose and justice, making decisions about where and how we spend our resources in order to make a fair marketplace knowing that because it is near impossible to avoid all exploitation there are those who will say that making those decisions is foolish. We risk identifying with the broken and the rejected knowing that when we do so there are those who will remind us that Jesus said we will always have the poor and we should resign to that fact.
It sounds foolish to some, this life of faith. The second reading in the Lectionary for Lent 3 has something to say about that. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul writes:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
The life of faith elevates the place of the weak, the lonely and the vulnerable. Jesus changes the old order of things. In living a life of faith we can celebrate the fact that we are imperfect and we are improving (or at least we are trying.)
I agree with the good Cardinal (despite the fact that he left the Anglican Church to become Roman Catholic). There is too much to be done to do nothing while wait till we get it together so much that it pleases everyone. Let’s take the good gifts that God has given us and get to work.