In 1994, Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded a song titled Sixteen Tons. This song spoke about becoming hardened and calloused in the rivers of life. With one fist of iron and the other of steel, Tennessee Ernie became tough after being bumped and bruised along the path of life, and fightin’ and trouble became his middle name.
Saint Paul gives us a different example to follow than the one Tennessee Ernie spoke of. And let the peace of God be presiding in your hearts, to which also ye were called in one body; and keep on becoming thankful. [Col. 3:15] That is much easier said than done. When the bumps and bruises of life inflict pain and suffering, it usually takes our minds away from being peaceful and thankful. We find ourselves entrenched in a state of panic and despair, gasping for help.
How many times I have longed to alleviate the suffering I see other folks going through or I hear of in the confessional. And in my limitations as a man, sometimes the best I think I can offer is a tear or an encouraging word. For alone, we are helpless! But as a family, hand in hand, we are strong! And as God’s church, we are unbreakable!
When someone in a family or group catches a cold, everyone gets sick. The sick person spreads their germs just as we the church share our struggles and failures, our dust of the Earth sharing in life with your dust. We do not wish to infect others with our problems but to be reassured that we are not alone. We are thankful that we love people who care, and thankful that they love us enough to care, to share, to remember each other and our families in their prayers. A kind word, a hot meal, a hug or a pat on the back connect us all to the same body.
When my left eye is tired, my right eye increases, when my right foot limps, my left foot caries my load. And so it is in the body of Christ. From the dust of this earth we have been wonderfully made and to the dust of this earth we will return and what really matters is what we do in between those dots on our road map of life. Let the peace of God be still the rage of hurt and failure than rise up against us and tries to prevent us from loving His body, and loving our member that has gone limp and is sometimes prickly with pain. Don’t be offended so easily!
It takes strength to reach out. And it takes an effort to be a servant like Christ! Take up your cross and follow the great healer, the greatest lover of mankind, and the biggest servant of us all! “Come to Me, all ye who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. [Mt. 11:28] We are family, we are one body, and we are the church! Glory to Thee!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 12/20/15