Posted on May 8, 2021

9 May 2021

Several years ago I drove to the Cities to meet a former student and his wife to go house-hunting.

They had flown in from out East with their two children.

We had made plans for this several months earlier.

We would house hunt during the day, and that evening go out to dinner.

When I got to the hotel to meet them and the realtor, I first of all wanted to spend

a little time with their two children–aged 1 and nearly 3.

That’s when their father said: “Ah, George, there’s been a slight change of plans.”

“Really?”  I said.  I panicked internally.  I thought,

“ I am going to have to watch these kids all day

–and one of them was filling her diaper as I held her.

“Yep,” he said, “When my new partners heard I was coming into town they said,

That if Mary and I were doing nothing tonight,

they’d like to take us out to dinner–so I said that we were doing nothing.”,

“Oh,” I said, “I just want to know when I became ‘nothing.’”

He said, “George you always told me that every now and then

we all have to become nothing so that Jesus can grow in us.”

I don’t know if I ever really said that,but I have to admit it sounds like something I could have said.

In the gospel today Jesus says talks about his joy filling us up.

But then quickly he points out

that this happens because one is willing to lay down his life–to become as nothing.

We have to make room.

It is painful to become “nothing,” hard, really.

That’s certainly true for me, and that’s certainly no secret.

Jesus is not naive about us.  He knows this about us.

Near the end of this discourse he puts in a reminder that we have to pray–

we have to ask God to help us love, help us make room, help us bear fruit.

When I think back on my ordination, what I remember is that moment when I lay prostrate,

while everyone else stood and prayed the litany of saints.

In that moment I was too young and foolish and arrogant to know, that what everyone was

 praying for, what I needed most was the willingness to become nothing.

Prayer isn’t magic, but it is powerful.

I do not think I could be here today,

unless something greater than me helped me make room in my life.

I do not think I could be here today unless the communities of people surrounding me,

were willing to shape me, pray for me, and support me.

I do not think I could be here today, unless the Lord was first willing to love me .

And I think if this is true for me, so much more is it true for each of you.

“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us.”