Peoria, Tazewell, And Woodford: Here, There & Everywhere

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time by Ted Wolgamot, Psy.D

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

“Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” Jn 6:13

I was reading recently about an artist who told a story about herself as a young child. She said that very early on she was attracted to doing all kinds of drawing with pencils and filling in with crayons, with using watercolor and finger paint. She just loved creating all kinds of bits and pieces of art work.

What frustrated her, though, was that she didn’t know what to do with all the different fragments she had created. It just looked to her like all this effort was for nothing. Sadly, it had become a “bunch of art stuff strewn all over the place.”

In fact, she became so upset with these stacks of paper and piles of drawings that one day she just couldn’t stand the sight of it all anymore. And so she decided to destroy it. All of it.

Every single piece of work – work that she had taken so much delight in for so long, every single piece of paper, every single drawing, every single instance of finger paint was torn up and thrown away.

When her mother discovered what her daughter was doing, she was horrified. She knew how gifted and creative she was. She knew how unique and special her talent was.

So, while her daughter was madly tearing up everything she could get her hands on, her mom patiently picked up each one, and carefully and tenderly put every single piece back together.

Her mom saved the whole collection.

This artist’s story reminded me of today’s gospel – the gospel account that tells us how Jesus urged everyone who had shared in the feast to “gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

 

In fact, this same artist later in life slowly came to realize that when she would sit at her drafting table and piece together the scraps she was drawing, this was exactly the same kind of work God was doing within her.

Here’s how she tells it: “Through the work of my hands, I began to learn in a tactile, tangible, in-my-bones fashion how God gathers up the pieces of each of our lives and creates something new with them. The light and the dark, the rough and the smooth, the pieces that draw us with their beauty as well as the ones we would like to throw away: God makes use of every fragment, every shard, every scrap that is part of our story.”

God becomes the consummate recycler!

He’s like the mother in the story of the artist patiently gathering up each piece of our lives and tenderly saving the whole collection.

Today’s gospel is filled with a banquet size table of valuable goodies for us to chew on. Usually we dwell, though, only on the great miracle of feeding the five thousand. But there’s another wonder to consider, another astonishment to meditate on.

It’s the miracle that’s related to this artist’s story.

That marvel is that in God’s love for each of us, nothing is wasted. The broken as well as the beautiful. The torn as well as the whole. Our sins and our talents. Our sorrows and our joys. Our embarrassments and our triumphs. Our memories of shame and our moments of glory.

Everything.

Everything can be used by our God to fashion in each one of us a unique, irreplaceable mirror of his infinite grace.

This artist says it best: “We see this again and again in the ministry of Jesus, how he always knows what to do with what has been lost, overlooked, left behind. Jesus knows the possibilities contained in the pieces, knows the value that lies within what has been broken and discarded.”

Today’s gospel story was so beloved and cherished by the earliest Christians that it is found in all four gospels. And reading it over and meditating upon its content, it’s easy to see why.

It’s a masterpiece.

In it can be found a summation of what the story of Jesus is all about: how the God of Jesus wants nothing more than to feed us, to lavish us with compassion, to forgive us all our past hurts, to invite us all to a banquet where we, like the five thousand in today’s gospel, can “recline” and share together the unlimited abundance of God’s presence.

And, where we can then go and do the same with each other – share the abundance; share the left-overs; share the acceptance of one another’s uniqueness and specialness.

It’s what might be called the “secret of the scraps.”

The love of God, so like the mother in the story of the artist, is boundless in its rapture over us that nothing is to be left out. It’s a love that embraces every inch of us, every part of us. Even the scraps, the discarded and dreaded parts.

The artist ends her story by saying: “Call it the persistence of wonder or the stubbornness of the miraculous – how Christ casts his circle around the fragments, how he will not release his hold on what is broken and in pieces. He bids his followers to gather them up: a sign of the wholeness he can already see, a foretaste of the banquet to come.”

“Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

“Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” Jn 6:13

I was reading recently about an artist who told a story about herself as a young child. She said that very early on she was attracted to doing all kinds of drawing with pencils and filling in with crayons, with using watercolor and finger paint. She just loved creating all kinds of bits and pieces of art work.

What frustrated her, though, was that she didn’t know what to do with all the different fragments she had created. It just looked to her like all this effort was for nothing. Sadly, it had become a “bunch of art stuff strewn all over the place.”

In fact, she became so upset with these stacks of paper and piles of drawings that one day she just couldn’t stand the sight of it all anymore. And so she decided to destroy it. All of it.

Every single piece of work – work that she had taken so much delight in for so long, every single piece of paper, every single drawing, every single instance of finger paint was torn up and thrown away.

When her mother discovered what her daughter was doing, she was horrified. She knew how gifted and creative she was. She knew how unique and special her talent was.

So, while her daughter was madly tearing up everything she could get her hands on, her mom patiently picked up each one, and carefully and tenderly put every single piece back together.

Her mom saved the whole collection.

This artist’s story reminded me of today’s gospel – the gospel account that tells us how Jesus urged everyone who had shared in the feast to “gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

 

In fact, this same artist later in life slowly came to realize that when she would sit at her drafting table and piece together the scraps she was drawing, this was exactly the same kind of work God was doing within her.

Here’s how she tells it: “Through the work of my hands, I began to learn in a tactile, tangible, in-my-bones fashion how God gathers up the pieces of each of our lives and creates something new with them. The light and the dark, the rough and the smooth, the pieces that draw us with their beauty as well as the ones we would like to throw away: God makes use of every fragment, every shard, every scrap that is part of our story.”

God becomes the consummate recycler!

He’s like the mother in the story of the artist patiently gathering up each piece of our lives and tenderly saving the whole collection.

Today’s gospel is filled with a banquet size table of valuable goodies for us to chew on. Usually we dwell, though, only on the great miracle of feeding the five thousand. But there’s another wonder to consider, another astonishment to meditate on.

It’s the miracle that’s related to this artist’s story.

That marvel is that in God’s love for each of us, nothing is wasted. The broken as well as the beautiful. The torn as well as the whole. Our sins and our talents. Our sorrows and our joys. Our embarrassments and our triumphs. Our memories of shame and our moments of glory.

Everything.

Everything can be used by our God to fashion in each one of us a unique, irreplaceable mirror of his infinite grace.

This artist says it best: “We see this again and again in the ministry of Jesus, how he always knows what to do with what has been lost, overlooked, left behind. Jesus knows the possibilities contained in the pieces, knows the value that lies within what has been broken and discarded.”

Today’s gospel story was so beloved and cherished by the earliest Christians that it is found in all four gospels. And reading it over and meditating upon its content, it’s easy to see why.

It’s a masterpiece.

In it can be found a summation of what the story of Jesus is all about: how the God of Jesus wants nothing more than to feed us, to lavish us with compassion, to forgive us all our past hurts, to invite us all to a banquet where we, like the five thousand in today’s gospel, can “recline” and share together the unlimited abundance of God’s presence.

And, where we can then go and do the same with each other – share the abundance; share the left-overs; share the acceptance of one another’s uniqueness and specialness.

It’s what might be called the “secret of the scraps.”

The love of God, so like the mother in the story of the artist, is boundless in its rapture over us that nothing is to be left out. It’s a love that embraces every inch of us, every part of us. Even the scraps, the discarded and dreaded parts.

The artist ends her story by saying: “Call it the persistence of wonder or the stubbornness of the miraculous – how Christ casts his circle around the fragments, how he will not release his hold on what is broken and in pieces. He bids his followers to gather them up: a sign of the wholeness he can already see, a foretaste of the banquet to come.”

“Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

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This entry was posted on July 24, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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