This weekend, I invited the children of the parish to come up into the sanctuary and help me tell a trickster story. The story a was about a Rabbit who challenged a Turtle to a race. Odd thing, the Turtle won with the help of his family members hiding in the tall grasses with their feathers. The children pretended to be Turtle holding their feathers, Rabbit was determined to win the race, so he plucked up the last few ounces of his strength and sprinted up the hill, passing the Turtle with the feather. As Rabbit rounded the last corner and braked to a halt in astonishment. Sitting by the stake, waving his feather proudly was Turtle. He had won the race!
The message is this: In Jesus Christ’s kingdom be prepared to expect and do the unexpected and put one over on the scoffers, the movers and the shakers. Be spiritually clever and live by the surprises of the gospel where people forgive seventy times seven, go two miles when forced to go one, return good for evil, pray for enemies, choose the last place, wash the feet of the slave, and throw banquets for the who can never possible repay. That will turn things upside down and unnerve your worldly masters.
Why? Because, to their amazement, you chose the road less traveled. You choose to live the paradoxes of the gospel and to that degree, in gospel terms, you have acted prudently.
Pope Francis’ vision for the church is an invitation to expect the unexpected. He shared that “the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.”
God prays for us as we reflect: “When the unrighteous see them, they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at the unexpected salvation of the righteous.” (Wisdom 5:2).
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who do the unexpected and wait on their neighbors and strangers with the dignity of the Lord. Bless you for all the kindness and mercy you offer to those in need. Keep doing the unexpected!