I was most fortunate to spend my birthday in Italy last week, and it was absolutely wonderful. Each day was lovelier than the next, the weather was hot and sunny, the pool cool and refreshing. Each sight, each meal, each conversation was a special gift.
I was traveling with 9 other cousins, so when I woke up on my birthday morning and had some quiet time all by myself, well, that was a precious gift too.
As I sat here early in the morning with my first cup of coffee, I found myself very aware that I was most certainly in God's presence, and, overwhelmingly filled with gratitude for the gift of life, for the gift of MY life specifically, and all the many blessings I have received. Among those blessings I counted this very special birthday in Italy, my family and friends, those who have mentored me as I've grown in ministry and in who I am. I counted all the folks from the parishes I've worked in over the last 40 or so years, and in particular, the people of St Francis de Sales who are such amazing folks to work and pray with at this point in my journey.
I was just filled with gratitude and I couldn't hold it all. I wanted this feeling to stay with me for a long time. I wanted to slow down and savor how it felt to know that God has cared for me each and every day of my 58 years, and to know that I finally have learned to trust in that care.
So I just took the whole day slowly. I was very deliberate about what I did and how I chose to relax that day. I enjoyed each moment and each person.
In this week's Gospel, the crowd asks Jesus "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" I'm not sure if they really wanted to know, or if they were baiting the Lord. Jesus' answer is that the should simply believe in Him. Well, yeah....but we never seem comfortable with the easy answer do we? As humans we always want it to be more complicated. Silly us.
My birthday prayer in addition to immense gratitude, was also the question of that crowd, in my own words...What more do you want of me? How can I be the best servant for you and your people? How can I be the person you call me to be?
I don't have the whole answer yet, but I know that part of the answer involves being grateful, being joyful, and being present to the moments when God surrounds me with his love and beauty. I know that God is enough for me, and that if I stay centered on God, I will not hunger for anything else.
I challenge you today to ask the question of the crowd: What can you do to accomplish the works of God?