“What can I give?”
I was sitting in mass at Church of the Ascension in north Minneapolis this morning, just a few rows behind the Visitation Sisters, and this question struck me. Fr. Michael O’Connell was delivering his homily on the Sunday scriptures in the open door, fan-blowing church full of Summer heat, parishioners, and guests.
“What can I give? What may I offer?”
I’m not sure if father spoke these words verbatim, or if they just sort of gurgled up in my brain and spirit from the overall point of his message. It was hot. The air was so thick and heavy, clear focus in that space felt about as possible as moving quickly waist-deep through mud. Yet, the question and its counterparts persisted.
“I was holding Christ’s heartache in the wake of his cousin’s be-heading — understanding completely his need to step back — and simultaneously hearing of his immersion in the needs of the people: responding to their hunger and feeding the masses. I was emotionally and spiritually moved.”
The queries didn’t make complete sense in my mind. “What was the gospel reading again?” I asked, nudging Lisa, a friend to my right in the pew. “Was Jesus feeding a lot of people?” Lisa smiled and nodded, “Yes, it’s magic Sunday.”
She made me laugh, and I tried to articulate my reason for wanting to know. “I was stuck on His cousin’s death” I said, referring to the opening line about John the Baptist’s passing. The notion of a grieving Christ had given me pause; Jesus’ need to retreat and be alone moved me and the image and idea alone had stayed with me until Father began delivering his homily.
“What can I give? What do I have to offer?”
In the space of my northside parish, flanked by friends and family, folks from East and West Africa, dear faith alliances from south of the US border, and my European-descendent community pals, these questions loomed. I was holding Christ’s heartache in the wake of his cousin’s be-heading — understanding completely his need to step back — and simultaneously hearing of his immersion in the needs of the people: responding to their hunger and feeding the masses. I was emotionally and spiritually moved.
I heard Fr. O’Connell talk about hunger here and in the horn of Africa; I heard him reference the thin line that we all walk around desire in our hearts and ache in our bellies; I gleaned the immediate literal needs of those without food and the spiritual want that so many of us suffer from; I was moved and found myself asking questions.
What can I give? What do I have to offer?
It was like a prayer in my own heart, perhaps, or maybe one that resounded in all the people gathered today, tuning into Matthew’s gospel and this homily. It repeated: In the face of such human hunger and need, what can I give, what do I have to offer?
I want very much to inspire the generous outpouring of inquiry, contemplation and action that moves us as a Catholic faith family to bring about the kingdom of God here and now; I want such musings to inspire us to seek justice and equity for all. I want people to be quite literally “full” in the mutual exchange of giving joyously and receiving graciously.
These are my Sunday musings. This is my prayer as I enter the week:
What can I give? What may I offer?
Will you join me in this meditation?