It had been a difficult year for her. A painful divorce, the emotional and financial stress of making a new life, and the unexpected diagnosis of multiple sclerosis had left her feeling defeated, bitter and cynical.
One afternoon, seeking some refuge in her beloved garden, she noticed the tip of a sweet pea growing through a crack in the pathway. It must have blossomed from a seed that had been dropped during planting. It wouldn’t live long.
– But to her surprise, the plant held on – struggling to grow stronger and taller every day. It wasn’t the prettiest sweet-Pea in the garden, with its twisted stalk and sparse foliage. She placed a small trellis near it to encourage the vine to spread up and out.
Despite its rough beginnings, the vine continued to bud. Its blooms were more abundant and richer in hue than any other plants in her garden. Quite a journey from the crack on the path to the top of the trellis.
The sweet pea plant became her teacher. It counselled her to hope in her own ability to cope, it taught her the way of perseverance. From the plant’s own struggle, she learned that we never ask for the challenges that life places in our way. Inspired by the little plant, she continued anew to seek her own trellis that enabled her to gather strength and courage to move forward.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to approach the world with a faith that often contradicts society’s value system, a faith that challenges the hopelessness and cynicism in which our own lives are mired. To be a disciple of Jesus is-to struggle to “read the signs” – however small, wherever hidden – of God’s presence in our midst. It is often easier to, remain in our own little cocoon of self-pity, to nurse our own hurts and angers. But the ultimate hope of the Gospel is to move beyond the negatives and seek out, despite the struggle, the never-wavering love of God, love that we make real for one another in our love, support and forgiveness.
Gospel charity and justice can be at odds with the world. In today’s gospel we learn that Jesus is not the safe, warm, reassuring blanket we believe him to be. His words challenge us to grow beyond our fears, our biases, and our narrow mindedness. Jesus demands more courage, more compassion, and more humility than we believe we are capable of. Christ calls us who would be his disciples to that work of justice and reconciliation, regardless of the cost or consequences
Today’s Gospel reminds us that faithfulness to our baptism in Christ demands that we risk power, prestige and even acceptance to stand up for the dignity and responsibility we all possesses by virtue of being a son and daughter of God. This is not easy and sometimes it very frightening. So let us pray for one another:
May God set us on fire and give us this day the strong, warm hearts of true peacemakers, who are ready to face the truth, and ready to work for change. With grace, may we build God’s peace within us and among us Amen.