One chilly, gray day a woman, driving her car down a country road, spotted a tiny sparrow lying on its back. She pulled over, stopped her car, and got out for a closer look. The bird was alive! She asked the little bird, “Why are you lying on your back with your feet up in the air?” The bird replied, “Because the sky is falling.” The woman could hardly control her laughter and said, “You think your spindly little legs can hold up that great big sky?” The tiny but determined sparrow replied, “One does what one can!”
“One does what one can!” All of us here today are fortunate in so many ways. Yet we have our problems: with bills to pay, with family members, with work, with health. Sometimes these problems are trivial, but other times they loom large and threaten to overwhelm us. Then we are likely to feel as the tiny sparrow on its back. We too think the sky is falling.
No one is exempt from such feelings, so how do we survive? How do we achieve a joy-filled life? We do so by rooting ourselves deeply God. This rooting will not exempt us from troubles and difficulties, but it will guarantee that no trouble will overwhelm us, no difficulty will take away our joy or our peace of mind. If this is true, and it is, then why are we so anxious and worried? Why do we let difficulties depress us?
It may be because although we have spiritual roots with God, over time we don't feed these roots. We put so much time, effort and money into caring for our bodies, for the way we look, for the images we project, for the clothes we wear, while at the same time neglecting our souls, our Spirit lives. We live in a consumer-oriented society that demands we always want and need more. Thousands of times every day, we see and hear commercials and ads that promote material things, while matters of the Spirit are being starved and neglected. Over time our roots with God dry up and diminish!
No wonder life oppresses us! No wonder we sometimes feel as though the sky is falling and want to quit! No wonder Jesus says to us as he says to Peter in today's Gospel, “Are you going to leave me too?” Peter gives the perfect response: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” What more can we say? Jesus not only has the words of eternal life. Jesus is the Word!
So how do we re-connect with Jesus? How do we re-connect with God in the midst of our stressful lives? One thing we might do is to take as much time and effort to improve our spiritual well-being as we do to take care of our material well-being. Remember Jesus' words? “What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we lose our souls?” We can place a stronger priority on daily prayer and less TV, on sharing our blessings with others – especially with those in need – on living simply, on being grateful, on showing a genuinely compassionate concern for people we know whose sky really is falling!
We might also consider joining our weekly parish discussion groups this Fall on the topic of rooting ourselves in God. The program is called A Spirituality for Today. Please think about joining us for six Wednesday evenings in parishioners' homes as together we at JOS try to “keep the sky from falling” in our own lives, and grow deeper, stronger roots with our Loving God. AMEN!