The Fear of Inadequacies

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Deacon Dick Kostner

Jesus at Prayer, Overlooking the Sea of GalileeOn my last homily I talked about the fact that faith can produce miracles. Today’s scripture readings helps us to understand how we acquire that gift of faith and participate in God’s divine partnership plan.

When I was studying for my Masters Degree in Pastoral Studies one of the revelations that God shared with me and that stood out in my mind was the fact that although God has no need to ask for help from anyone, that contrary to that he desires humans to participate in advancing and growing the body of Christ through human involvement in preaching and practicing the gospel message of love and service to others. The gift he bestows on those he asks for help from, and who accept his requests, is peace and happiness not only in this life but also the gift of the key to everlasting life in heaven.

For humans this presents us with obstacles in accepting those requests God asks from us, the greatest of which is our fear of inadequacy. Let me give you an example of this. When I began ministry studies one of my greatest fears was facing death or witnessing death. When I first got out of law school one of the first things I did was draft a will for myself and I placed a directive in it that I wished no funeral and requested that I be buried within twenty-four hours of my death. My thoughts were that this would make it easier for my family and friends to move on with their lives.

This fear stayed with me until I became a deacon and one day when our priest was on vacation, I received a call late one evening from our hospital. A car accident had happened and the family of the victim was trying to find a priest to administer the Sacrament of Healing for this young man. I advised the nurse that Father was gone out of town. She asked if I could come and be with the family. Fear hit me, and I told the nurse that I could not administer the Sacrament as deacons cannot do this. She then asked if I would come and maybe say some prayers with the family. My thoughts were that I was not adequate for the job and I did not feel I could do anything that would be beneficial for the family or their loved one. Then I remembered that part of my training for deacon ministry was to walk with someone and minister to someone who was dying. Fr. Frank, my director had assigned me to a elderly gentleman in Eau Claire who was terminally ill. I would meet with him on a weekly basis, at his home, and I would take Communion to him and his wife while spending time with him. I remember how after he died his wife called me and asked if I would do the Wake Service for him as he so much appreciated the times we got together while he was dying. I remembered how good this made me feel to know that they appreciated my company even though I felt inadequate for the mission Fr. Frank had assigned to me.

I decided to go and pray with that family at the hospital, and after doing so the family said they so much appreciated that I was willing to come and be with them during their suffering I finally realized that all that one needs to do is to show up and be there for those suffering and fearing death as the representative body of Christ. Jesus and the Holy Spirit do the rest. God knows that this is difficult for us but he always rewards those who say “Yes” to his call for help.

Our Gospel this weekend has Jesus telling his friends that its time for them to stand up and accept the job of helping others overcome their fears through their presence and healing. Jesus knows they don’t feel adequate for the job and so he sends them out in two’s knowing that this will help them feel more comfortable and capable of accepting their ministry mission. He tells them to not prepare and to take nothing with them as he promises to provide all the help that they will need to be successful.

Our parish at St. Paul’s is having a meeting this coming Monday to request help for our Fall Festival. This event provides not only financial support for the Parish but also allows its members to participate and say “Yes” to God’s requests for help. This will give evidence that Jesus is with us in helping not only others but ourselves to overcome our feelings of inadequacies. Like Jesus, the Parish is going to ask groups to come together as a unit to accomplish fellowship and support within our Parish Family Ministry. To the St. Paul’s committee people please plan on attending the meeting and by saying you will help build and exercise the Body of Christ in our community. St. John’s people encourage others to join you in planning your Parish activities to help reduce the fear we all have of being inadequate for the ministries asked of us by Jesus.

Remember the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “Take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money.” Remember that God will provide you with everything necessary for his mission requests.

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