Posted on Sep 25, 2021

26 September 2021

Shortly after I was ordained it was my privilege to preside at the baptism of several children.

Everything I was taught, everything I had experienced told me this was one of those indisputably happy occasions.

It was a celebration of life on two levels: the gift of physical life,

the gift of another, deeper kind of level.

During the liturgy I couldn’t help noticing a very striking woman who was one of the grandmothers.  She was clearly a woman of the world.  She not only dressed well, but carried herself like she was used to being in charge.

After the liturgy, during the requisite picture taking I noticed her sitting alone, holding her newly baptized granddaughter.  She was crying, gently, but crying.

I went over to her and said in what I thought were remarkably wise words for one who was newly ordained: “Sometimes you’re so happy you just have to cry.”

From the look on the grandmother’s face I could tell my remarkably wise words

were probably not so wise after all.

“Father,” She said, “there are only two really important experiences for each of us: being born, and dying. Both of those take an incredibly amount of faith.

My beautiful granddaughter is so helpless.  She doesn’t know how much faith she has in her parents, and in me, in all of us right now. And because someday she will die she will need an incredible amount of faith in God.

I’m not a stupid woman Father.  I’ve been around.  But I’ve lived a stupid life.  I’ve never had any faith in God. Everything was always more important to me than God: my career, my jewelry, my appearance.  None of these will help me with my cancer.

Will you tell my granddaughter that nowhere she will go, nothing she will ever do or see, are more important to her than her faith in God?”

Then she looked down at her smiling granddaughter, then back up at me and said: “She probably won’t believe you will she?”

This weekend we leave behind the gentle coaxing Jesus of the past few weeks and come up against a more strident, determined Jesus.  His general thematic is: “You must deny your very self, take up your cross and follow me.”

To the Jesus we will meet from now on there is nothing more important

–not our feet, not our eyes, not our hands–than our on-going relationship with God.

He will tell us this over and over the next few weeks.

What does it take each of us to believe what Jesus says?