(JER 1:4-5, 17-19; PS 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; 1 COR 12:31—13:13; LK 4:21-30)
Do you ever have something, and not realize it? Do you ever take something for granted? Do you ever misunderstand your calling, even if it is spelled out in front of you? Welcome to the human experience.
I often think of the expression, “you can’t see the forest for the trees…” So often, we get immersed in the details and day-to-day distractions of life and we are so close to the current situation that we don’t see the big picture. We don’t realize that these bunch of trees that we are encountering day after day and focusing on are actually part of a big huge, amazing forest. We just don’t see the big picture.
I get like this. Sometimes, I let the littlest things bother me. Sometimes, I let the small, insignificant little things that happen in passing with absolutely no broader intentions behind them bother me and cause me to get upset. Sometimes I let the details of the current moment cloud my thoughts.
And other times, I don’t see the blessing that is there, right in front of me. I don’t see the opportunity or calling. I simply don’t see the amazing person that I have lived with day in and day out – the person that is so amazing, that has so many unbelievable talents and capabilities and gifts, and instead I take for granted.
We encounter this with others, but we also encounter this with ourselves. Yes, we even take ourselves for granted. So often we get caught up in those details about ourselves and others – those things we can’t stand or even hate – that we lose sight of the gifts that we have, and that others around us have. We lose sight of what God may have designed us to do, or what role others may have in the grand scheme of things, a gift that they can provide that may benefit and bless an even greater number of people.
Often we dismiss our calling, because we may feel unworthy or not qualified. And often we dismiss the calling of others because, especially with those close to us, we may be a little envious. We look at ourselves and even if we hear a calling, or think we may have a specific gift or purpose, we talk ourselves out of it and tell ourselves that we are not good enough.
And we look at those around us and maybe think, well, “I could do that.” Or, “if I had been given that opportunity, I could have been that person.” Or simply, “that’s just little so and so, they are young and inexperienced. They couldn’t possibly know that, or be able to do that.”
We take others, and we take ourselves, for granted. And we take God, and His Love, for granted.
In today’s readings, we hear about the calling of the prophet Jeremiah, how God tells him how He designed him before he was formed in the womb and ensures Jeremiah how He will always be with him, even when things get tough. And then in the Gospel, we hear about the aftermath of Jesus revealing himself in the synagogue in His hometown, and how those closest to him did not recognize who He truly was. To them, He was just little Jesus, Joseph’s (the carpenters) son. He was nothing special.
No one could see the forest for the trees.
Perhaps Jeremiah thought of himself, that he was no one special. Perhaps we all feel this way from time to time. We think “I am no one special.” He or she, “is no one special”. And all too often, this happens in our own families. We get caught up in our daily lives and forget that others grow and bloom before our eyes, and that they realize their potential and become something great to see. And other times, we ourselves are called to do something, something we know that is good – but we don’t follow through. We fail to execute. We fail to see the specialness in our own being.
We fail to love. We get so caught up in daily life that we fail to love. And this is where the second reading for today comes in to play. We may think we do all things so well – we go to Mass, spend some time in Adoration and maybe even go to Confession. We give to charity, and say all the right things. But do we genuinely love each other?
Do we show love to our families? Do we show love to the homeless on the street? To those we work with? To those we worship with? Do we respect them? Do we see them for who they truly are – God’s special creation? I know I fail at this often. Man, do I fail. I get so caught up in daily life sometimes that I let slip that comment to my wife or son that I know I shouldn’t. And many times, I don’t see the gifts that those around me have.
I get so busy walking down the cold city street, that I fail to put some cash in the cup of the homeless man sitting in his wheelchair on the street corner. Or I fail to buy him a cup of soup at the corner deli. I have faith, but so many times in only what I can see. I have hope, but so many times in only what I can grasp. Often I don’t have that same faith in the things I can’t see, or have hope in those things that are just out of reach.
But as St. Paul writes, there is always love. Love never fails. But we fail. But we often fail to act lovingly. We often fail to act lovingly to others, especially those close to us, and we fail to act lovingly towards ourselves.
Love of God, others, and ourselves is the big picture. But often it gets lost amongst the trees. Often love just slips away, and passes through the midst of the trees, just as Jesus slipped away through the crowd. We fail to see the big picture and what we have, until it is too late. Until it is gone.
Don’t take others for granted. Don’t take yourself for granted. Don’t take God for granted. We each have gifts. We each are special. God is special. We must seek the bigger picture in all we do, and strive to see that forest in everything, and everyone. We might just be struck by its beauty and it’s greater purpose – and it’s love.