Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 13, 2021
I attended the graduation ceremony for the Nouvel Catholic Central High School Class of 2021. I made a point of being there because I had taught one semester of theology to these young women and men during their freshman year. I hadn’t seen most of them since our final day in the classroom. I was hoping that my presence, should they even notice me, would signal my ongoing concern for them…especially for their continued spiritual growth and development. I was also curious about what changes each has undergone during the “in between times.”
I was shocked that many of my former students were unrecognizable to me. Only three years ago, I was able to identify their voices as they came ambling down the hall towards the classroom. I could tell whose paper I was reading by the handwriting without even looking at the name. And, although it took a week or so, I definitely recognized every face. Eventually, I could even make a pretty good guess at what kind of mood they were in on any given day…and how that would affect our scant 55 minutes of “God Talk.”
Like most teachers, I came to know these kids better and better as the semester unfolded. And now, just three short years later, if I passed most of them on the sidewalk, I wouldn’t be certain who they were. The time “in between” the last day of 9th grade and graduation had changed them from adolescents to adults. The most disconcerting thing was the realization that there was absolutely no way of telling whether or not my very short time with them would make any difference whatsoever in their faith life.
As I watched the members of the NCCHS Class of 2021 march off the football field and into the rest of their lives, I couldn’t help but wonder how they would use the years “in between” graduation and their last day on earth. Had the thoughts and ideas about the Reign of God that I tried to plant into their minds and hearts taken hold?
Parents…good, loving, concerned, attentive, and involved parents must appreciate what I am talking about. As children become more and more independent, aren’t those responsible for their development haunted with questions? Have I done enough? What more could I have done? What else can I do?
This weekend’s Scripture passages work together to counsel patience in these circumstances. For example, once parents, grand and God parents, teachers, catechists, and youth ministers have done all that can reasonably be done to pass on our faith, we simply have to wait patiently. But even as we wait, we must also trust.
We trust in the ultimate power of our good, loving, concerned, and totally attentive God. We trust that God knows more than our names, faces, voices, and handwriting. We trust that our Creator knows every breath we take and every thought we have. We trust that God will never fail to recognize and somehow respond, gently and lovingly, to our every need. We trust that God will call into life, at the proper time, the seeds of faith that have been planted within our hearts during the time “in between” our first and last breath. For some, that might well be immediately before graduating from time into eternity. But we trust that Divine Mercy and power is such that every single seed has the opportunity to spring into life and blossom.
In the meantime, during the “in between times” of our own lives, we must continue to patiently care for and nourish those seeds that are already growing within us. And we must trust that, through the Holy Spirit, Christ is always present to us, signaling God’s ongoing concern for our continued spiritual growth and development.
Take a moment this coming week to truly notice!