A pastor asked his parishioners to pray for rain since there was a serious drought. As they were praying the pastor looked around and began criticizing the group for what he called their lack of faith. One parishioner sheepishly spoke up and said, "but father we do have faith, we showed up, didn’t we?" To which the pastor replied, "Why didn’t anyone bring an umbrella?"
What about Jacob’s encounter with a stranger? He wrestled with the person all night and would not give up. Jacob asked, "Who are you?" The stranger replied, "Why do you want to know?", and left him. For his part, Jacob was a changed man, he had seen God face to face. The encounter left him with a limp, his sciatic muscle was injured.
Lots of people suffer from sciatica and ought to hear this story today. It may not bring them any relief, but it could cause them to wonder if they like Jacob have been touched by God.
Faith manifests itself in different ways. In the gospel today there is an encounter with the divine but this one is very different. The person is possessed. We might be inclined to focus on the miracle and overlook what else was going on in that gospel selection.
Jesus looked around and saw a lot of blank faces, empty hearts, and empty souls, people who were drifting aimlessly through life unaware that something more was available to them; the peace that comes from knowing God.
Jesus was aware that he could not touch every soul, make them whole again and remind them of their inheritance as adopted sons and daughters of God. He reached out to his disciples, shared the challenge, and acknowledged that more workers were needed. The harvest is plentiful he said but the workers are few. Businesses from across the country are echoing the same concern.
With Christianity, there are countless new souls waiting to be reached, souls who once were motivated by faith but are less inclined today. We need a miracle to help us reach those souls.
What that miracle will be continues to elude us even if we don’t bring our umbrellas. We have to find ways that will invite people to wrestle with the divine and ask, who are you? Hopefully like Jacob they too will come away with the belief that they experienced God face to face.
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About Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C.
Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C. is Chaplain at the Father Peyton Center in Easton, MA. Before coming to Holy Cross Family Ministries he served as a teacher and a parish priest. He also served for six years as a General Assistant of the Congregation in Rome, Italy. Originally from Fall River, MA, Father Leo grew up with eight siblings. Gifted with several languages, he is able to serve the Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian communities. When he's not greeting everyone who comes to the Father Peyton Center, you can find him regularly reading newspapers!