15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
St. Francis De Sales, Abingdon
July 15, 2012 5:pm and 7:30am
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato
Zits: A Maturity Moment
Some of us are probably familiar with the newspaper comic strip called Zits.
Zits is about the upsets of a teenager and the challenges of a parent trying to guide one.
In one episode, 15-year-old Sarah is having a bad hair day. Sarah screams, “I hate my hair. I should just cut it off and start all over.”
Sarah’s mother calmly suggests, “That’s a good idea, Sarah. I know some people who would love to have it.”
Sarah responds, “Are you kidding? Who would want to be stuck with a whole head of this stuff?”
Mom then leaves the room and comes back with a brochure that she hands to Sarah. It’s about an organization called Locks of Love. Locks of Love makes wigs for children who have lost their hair from chemotherapy.
Sarah peruses the brochure and asks, “So this Locks of Love organization would use my hair to make wigs for kids with cancer?” Her mom explains, “Yes, and that way your problem becomes somebody else’s solution.”
Sarah just sits there in silence until finally her mom asks, “Are you okay, Sarah?” And Sarah says quietly, “I think I’m having a maturity moment.”
the seedbed for Maturity moments
I see today’s Scripture readings as calling us to embrace similar maturity moments. In fact, they call us to a fuller life of personal and spiritual maturity.
In the gospel, Jesus sends the apostles on a mission. He instructs them to take very few personal belongings. In other words, they are not to be preoccupied with themselves.
Instead, they are to guide others to what is good and bring personal healing and wholeness wherever possible.
In our first reading, the prophet Amos is also focused beyond himself.
Amos is trying to persuade government leaders to take better care of the needy. He does this even to the point of being disliked and unwanted.
Saint Paul in our second reading says that our overall focus is to become holy and giving persons.
Once again, he calls us not to be self-absorbed, but to be looking beyond ourselves at the bigger picture of life – much as Sarah’s mom was trying to get Sarah to do in the comic strip.
Maturity Moments and Maturity
So the Word of God today calls us to maturity moments and through them to fuller maturity.
Maturity moments are those experiences when we manage to put aside our own personal needs and problems and desires for the sake of someone else.
An example here might be, I may give up going to a concert or a movie or a ballgame to visit someone who is in the hospital.
Maturity moments are those breakthroughs when we realize that we are not the center of the world but only a part of a much larger world.
Thus, as an American, I may realize that we who have so much are really lessened or diminished when billions of people in Third World countries are dying because they lack potable water and enough food and medical care.
And maturity moments are those holy times when our disappointment at what life has handed us gets transformed into gratitude simply for the gift of life itself.
Here, instead of going under when things at work aren’t going well, we can thank God for life, health and the ability to work in the first place.
Let our prayer today be that the Lord opens our minds to recognize maturity moments when they come and to open our hearts to embrace them rather than pass them by.
And that once there are embraced, these moments may build into a lifestyle of maturity characterized by Love of God and a genuine caring for others.