Now that the boys are in CCD, church is almost like a date. We can focus on the Word and each other and know that the boys are safe and sound. (Well, except for that incident with the four inch bruise on the little guy's head from the clunk after the teacher was swinging him around. Not that she mentioned it. Until I asked why the left side of his face was turning yellow and purple.)
But every now and again, I'm wildly frustrated by being reminded of what I loathe about being a Catholic. Like when pre-elections, they go all gooey eyed over the unborn babies. And no one thinks twice about encouraging us to elect the most trigger-happy governor in history. 'Cause, I guess those guys were born and had their chance. So we are to be pro-life for the unborn, and the rest are just supposed to figure it out. That drives. me. crazy.
Then Sunday's readings are three of my least favorite of all time. The first one was about a wife's value. I've never liked how the author waxes on about the wonders a great wife can do with wool and flax. But when I'm also in a bad housekeeping spot...well, I just felt like I was failing on all counts in the wife department. Then the second reading compared the return of the Messiah with labor pains. They come in the night, and there is no escape! So there was another thing I didn't feel like remembering, brought back in vivid detail.
Finally, the Gospel was my all time least favorite parable, about the master who went on a long trip leaving three servants with talents "according to their abilities." One got five, one got two, and one got one. The first two guys went out and doubled their master's talents. The third guy, fearing what would happen if he gambled and lost, buried the talent so he could at least give it back without any loss.
The master comes home, and calls them in to hear what they've done with his money. He tells the first two, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come, share your master's joy." And the third, who (pretty boldly) explains he knows the master "reaps where he does not sew" and has a harsh temper, explains he buried his so he wouldn't lose any and hands it back. The master loses it, casts out the servant, and pretty much proves himself to be all the servant fears. Which never seems fair to me; the master even says he gave them talents according to ability so why would he take it out on the least talented? (so to speak)
But the priest had a different take on it today, which I really needed. First, he brought barbells to show what a talent actually was. It was 80 pounds of gold! Um, hello, and this guy was just handing them out before he went on break. No wonder poor guy #3 buried his. I'd be petrified if someone gave me 80 lbs of gold to look after. The priest, though, saw the master as generous and trusting, allowing his servants to manage these parts of his holdings, and giving them the opportunity to show what they could do. He pointed out the first two servants didn't seem to think this master was such a bad guy, and they were excited to take up the challenge and see what they could do. And we have no idea what the third guy was afraid of. Failure? Success? So the priest asked us what we would be doing differently if we had no fear.
Wow. No fear. In such a time of economic uncertainty. In a season where my kids want more more more but me to work less less less. At a time when, by all accounts, I'm at best at the halfway point in my life.
I don't want to go all Erma Bombeck (though I adore her and her "I wish I'd burned the candle shaped like a rose instead of letting it melt in the attic" essay). It was easy to hear the lightbulbs going off over people's heads as the priest talked about his first pastor, who pretty much let him do whatever he wanted, and delighted in his successes, and counseled him in his failures. I thought about my former boss, who was not someone I found it easy to work for, but from whom I learned a ton. And one thing I did learn there was that if you didn't ask, you didn't get.
Which all comes back to these readings. I didn't want to confront this set of readings, and to his great good credit and good humor, neither did the priest. ("It would be presumptuous of me to expound on the virtues of a wife, and childbearing isn't my specialty either.") But his focus on the last one helped change my mind, at least a little.
What would you do if you had no fear? Right now all my answers center on cash. Which isn't really the problem. But it's a good brainteaser, one I'm still working on two days later.