Yet I worry.
What if she reacts badly to the anesthesia? What if she acquires an infection from the incision? What if . . . what if . . . what if . . .
In the first reading, Jerusalem is personified as a girl weltering in her own blood. The Lord washes her with water and anoints her with oil. She becomes . . . beautiful!
Blood and cleansing are on my mind today, too. My daughter is in the surgical suite, somewhere nearby. Someone – a virtual stranger – is cutting her with a knife. There will be blood. I sit by, idly, letting it happen. Letting the pain happen. Why?
Because I trust the surgeon. I have faith that he knows what he is doing, and I have hope that life for my daughter will be better after she recovers. Better than ever.
This makes me think of baptism. The parallel is real. When one becomes baptized, she or he submits to being submerged in water. Despite our natural reaction to protect that person, we let it happen, ironically, because we want to protect that person (from the effects of sin, original and actual). We allow it to happen because we have faith that our community of believers will support and nurture the new member. We have hope that life for that person will be better after the baptism. Better than ever.
Perhaps you have been thinking about joining a community of believers, a church. Yet, like electing surgery, you hesitate. Will it really be better? Is it really what I want? Is it really what God wants for me? What if I realize too late that I made a mistake?
Certainly, you have to trust your heart, but it may just be that you are waiting for an invitation, some kind of sign that it’s the right thing to do. Consider this your sign: Today I am telling you that, if you’ve been considering joining a benevolent community of believers, you will probably read this reflection a little differently than the person next to you. Today might be the day that the Grace you’ve been given to approach the community is transformed into action. It will not happen for everyone. As written in today’s Gospel reading, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted.”
The surgeon just came into the waiting room to tell us that all went well with the surgery, and we can have our daughter back again soon. The chapter of trauma and pain ends. A new chapter, one with hope for a brighter future, begins.
How about that invitation I just mentioned earlier? Jesus said it best: “Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
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