Sunday Homilies- Fr. Luke Uebler
“Get In the Wheelbarrow”
“Many who heard him were astonished. What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! They also said, “Where did this man get all this? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary…? And they took offense at him. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Words from our Gospel today from the 6th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Mark – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.
As we go through our daily lives, it is amazing how much we depend on faith and operate by our beliefs. Let’s look at what might be considered a typical day. You get up in the morning and take a nice hot shower. You get dressed; jump in the car and head on down the 90 to work. You turn on the computer, file your reports, and send your email. You head home, enjoy a nice meal, watch some television and finally go to bed. Without even thinking about it, you have made many leaps of faith throughout your day. Where did that warm water for your shower come from? You turned the handle and presumed that after a minute or two your water heater would do its job as promised by the manufacturer – which is good because you’re not quite awake yet to think about all that. As you were driving to work, all that stood between you and an imminent head-on car crash was an easily passed over yellow line in the middle of the road, yet you placed your faith in other drivers that they would stay in their lane. You sat down at the computer and sent your email – what would the world look like these days without it? Many believe that it would fall apart and would be lost without it. There are some among us who never knew a time when there was no Internet – think about that. Well it’s good anyway that we trust our computer not to crash or we would be anxious about all the work we did and saved to the desktop. We have faith that there will always be food available and supplies on the shelf, but take that belief away and we are out of toilet paper faster than you can imagine. I don’t know where the TV signal comes from exactly, but I don’t care as long as it works and I can watch the Big Bang Theory at the end of the day. It’s good that we have faith and as such don’t have to think about these things. If I had to sit down and calculate every decision, or even evaluate every driver that passed me by on the road, I would be overwhelmed into inaction. More than we realize or are willing to admit, we live by faith and take things on faith.
The readings for the last couple of weeks have been all about faith, and what happens also when we fail to take things on faith. A couple of weeks ago we heard the story of the disciples facing a perilous storm at sea. Jesus got up, calmed the storm, and rebuked the disciples for being terrified – “why do you not have faith?” Last week, there was a 12 year old girl who became sick and died, and there was a commotion outside the house, weeping and wailing… And Jesus said, “just have faith; she is not dead but sleeping,” as he brings her back to life. This week, he comes into his own synagogue, and after hearing Jesus preach and hearing of his ministry, they take offense at him so much so that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. Though they knew him best, it seems they understood him least. What is interesting in all these stories is that there is some element of belief in Jesus. Although the disciples were not able to trust that with Jesus in their boat things will turn out to be OK, they did believe enough to call upon Jesus to save them. Although the girls’ father was shaken by the news, he allowed Jesus into his home to do something about it. Although the people of Nazareth questioned where Jesus got all this wisdom, being but a simple carpenter, they did acknowledge his mighty deeds and were astonished at his teaching. They believe in Jesus, but they are not quite at the point of having faith. Jesus is trying to get them and us to take the next step.
It reminds me of the story of the tightrope walker. A great crowd came out to see this tightrope walker put on a show on this tightrope spread out across a dangerous canyon. As the tightrope walker was about to cross, he asked the crowd watching him, “do you believe that I can do this?” They replied, “Yes, you are the famous tightrope walker we’ve all heard of; we believe that you can cross this canyon with no problem.” So with their encouragement, he went out across the rope and, keeping his balance, crossed the canyon to the other side and back. Then, he got a wheelbarrow and asked the crowd, “Do you believe that I can tightrope across this canyon while pushing a wheelbarrow?” The crowd responded excitedly, “Yes, yes show us what you got.” And so, to the amazement of the crowd, the tightrope walker pushed the wheelbarrow over the tightrope to the other side of the wide canyon and back. Finally, the tightrope walker asked his audience, “Now I ask, do you have faith in me, that I can cross this canyon with the wheelbarrow?” The crowd was enthusiastic, “We’ve seen what you can do; go out and do it again. We have faith in you.” The tightrope walker replied solemnly, “If you have faith in me, then put yourself into the wheelbarrow.” These past weeks Jesus has been telling us, “Put yourself into the wheelbarrow.” (2x)
God can work through storms – just ask the disciples, God can work through death – just ask the synagogue official, God can work through weakness – just ask Paul, God can work through the ordinary – just ask the people of Nazareth. And just as we believe that God can do all these things, if we want to experience this for ourselves, we need to put ourselves in the wheelbarrow. We need to have faith, and live by faith in Jesus so that God can work through these things in our lives. Do we operate daily as if God’s got this and everything is under his control? Indeed, human beings are quite good at living by faith, even when we’ve been disappointed by the things and people we have placed our faith in – eventually we need new gadgets, accidents happen on the road and elsewhere, new ways of living come and go, and sometimes we can’t get what we want, and yet we go through our daily routine all the same. It’s time we put our faith in someone that will never fail to satisfy. It’s time we stop sitting on the sidelines, get in the wheelbarrow, and live by faith, faith in the Lord.