Preached at St. Catherine of Sweden Parish on June 16, 2013 for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C at the 11:00AM Mass, the Celebration Mass of my ordination to the diaconate.
I recently went shopping for a new car, in small part because I wanted to get myself a special gift for ordination, but mostly because my old car was falling apart. After all what parish wants to have a deacon whose car is going to break down all of the time, unless of course you can walk from your home to the parish. I am not that close to Holy Sepulcher parish.
It had not been that long since I had last bought a car, but it is amazing how much the technology has changed. Computers, voice commands, entertainment systems, rear view cameras, navigation systems, collision warning systems, and the list goes on and on. But what really has to be the most amazing feature of all is the automatic parking. I’m sure you have seen the commercials with the people amazed by the self-parking car. Trust me you will be that amazed with the automatic parking.
With the car in control, everything is fine! Perfectly parked the very first time right in between two closely parked vehicles! But the hardest part about the automatic parking is letting the car have control. Your first reaction is to grab the wheel and take over. The moment you interfere with the car as it is parking, however, everything gets all messed up. It’s your driver’s exam all over again. You are going forward and backward, going up over the curb, and everything else.
How much this is just like our lives. We want our hands on the wheel of our life, so to speak, doing everything ourselves. We want to be in control. We think to ourselves, “I got this…no problem,” even as we bump up against more and more things (our struggles, our problems, and even the pain and loss) in our lives. We are like the Pharisee in today’s Gospel, thinking of ourselves before we think of the Lord. We do not want to surrender control of our lives over to God.
We need to be more like the sinful woman. I am not suggesting that we be sinners or crash dinner parties so that we can wash the feet of the guests in attendance with our hair, but by her actions in today’s Gospel, this woman demonstrated her great faith in Jesus by kneeling down before the Lord and surrendering herself completely to him. She gave up control of the wheel of her life to the Lord and as the Gospel says, “received Christ’s peace.”
We too can receive the peace of Christ, if we just learn to let go of the wheel.
Anyone that has known me for any length of time, like my family, would agree that I have not always been the most peaceful person. That is because for a good many years I held onto the wheel of my life very tightly, sometimes white-knuckling my way through starts and stops, forwards and backwards, and many dents along the way. But when I began to surrender myself and my life to the Lord, doing more of his will and less of my own, letting him lead me and guide me, letting go of the wheel and allowing him to have the control, my life began to change.
Yesterday at St. Paul’s Cathedral I lay prostrate before the Lord as the Litany of Saints was sung. It was a very profound moment as I lay there praying to the list of those who had surrendered their lives to the Lord. My heart was pounding with excitement, in fact I had no idea that you could do push ups with just the beating of your heart. Yet even in that moment as my heart raced, like the sinful woman, I was full of Christ’s peace because I was surrendering the wheel of my life over to the Lord. I had found my vocation. I had found God’s will for my life. I had found peace.
Everyone here today has a vocation, God’s will for their lives. We just have to let go of the wheel and let God take control. “Let go and let God,” as the woman who cut my hair said on Friday as we discussed today’s homily. [Yes, even hairdressers have to put up with me talking about Jesus and the Church!] Like the automatic parking, it can be very scary to give God control of our lives, but in the end that is where we will find peace, by doing God’s will and not our own.
So as we come forward to receive our Lord in the Eucharist today, let us draw near to God and ask him to help us to surrender control of our wheel to him, to lead our lives and to guide us to our vocation, so that we may receive his peace. For those of you that are not Catholic, you can also come forward to a priest or a deacon with your arms folded across your body so that you can receive a special blessing as you consider God’s will for your life.
Yesterday I surrendered myself to the Lord by being ordained a deacon, giving my life in service to Christ and his Church. I still have a long way to go in my walk (or in this case my drive) with the Lord, but each moment that I am able to let go of the wheel and give control to God, I am blessed and my life is transformed.
This is certainly a day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad!