Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Best I Can



I have no recollection of how this un-named iris came to me. I don't remember anyone giving it to me or ordering it from a mail order nursery or buying it locally. Although it's a re-blooming iris (spring and then again fall) it doesn't have much of anything to recommend it: no frilly petals (called falls), no scent, no jump-out colors. But there it is, mixed in and blooming now in the garden with the others which carry dramatic names illustrative of their fabulous-ness, names like: Savannah Sunset, Vision in Pink, Slew O' Gold, Dream of You. I've named this iris: Doing the Best I Can.

But I decided today to leave it alone and let it stay because it clearly is making an effort, and as I get older I realize that's all that matters. Our culture is largely interested only in the show-stopper and the WOW factor, but the Gospel teaching is ~ the little bit and the best I can, matters. 

Jesus tells the story about the fellow who went out to sow the seed on his land: most of it was wasted - the birds ate it up, the rocks prevented the seeds from sending down deep roots, the thorns choked it out, the neighbors stomped on it along the path. But a little bit of the seed landed where it could be enormously productive (Mt. 13:1 ff).

And the little mustard seed becomes a giant bush where birds make nests (Mt. 13:31-32). And the little sparrow is noticed by God even in its dying (Mt. 10:29) And the little children were invited into the circle around Jesus who blessed them (Mk 10:13-15). And the little boy offered the little lunch he had, and using it, Jesus performed a great miracle (Jn. 6:9 ff). And so it goes...

Many people who are trying to follow the Christian way feel frustrated and guilty because "doing the best I can" was never (or isn't now) enough. Some folks throw the word sin around very easily when the persons they're critiquing (even condemning) are already trying very hard - indeed - trying the best they can. 

"I'm trying the best I can" is sometimes met with "Well, your best isn't good enough."  But Jesus isn't like that. He's pleased for the cup of cold water we give, (Mt. 10:42) and how we feed the hungry, and clothed the naked and visit the home bound and the imprisoned (Mt. 25 ff).  

Therese of Lisieux understood this. She said that picking up a pin off the floor for love mattered to Jesus. And do you know why? Because nuns keep their headgear on with pins. And Carmelite nuns don't wear shoes, so a pin landing on the floor might cause someone pain and trouble and Therese anticipated that. 

So do what you can ~ the best you can ~ for love of God and love of other people. And be encouraged. 

13 comments:

  1. This is just so encouraging and what I need right now. Thank you from the bottom of.my heart.

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  2. This pleases me ~ you're very welcome! God bless your Sunday.

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  3. This is such a freeing concept. Life is hard enough as it is. As long as we do the best that we can

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  4. Everyone should read this in preparation for the upcoming year of Mercy. God understands us more than we think.

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  5. And so it goes. The littlest efforts do not go unnoticed by God. That little plain iris blooming among the more glorious is still a flower, a gift from God. We all have our own beauty and something to offer this world. Even if it is seemingly small thing to some, it can mean a lot to others. There are so many little things we do in life that seem insignificant, even thankless, but God sees and appreciates. Amen Father Stephen. You bring a good message.

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  6. Wouldn't you say that sometimes when something goes unexpectedly, or in a bad way, that saying "I did my best" really isn't good enough? Sometimes we have to take responsibility for our failings. We cannot use this to rationalize our misguided steps or poor choices or broken promises.

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  7. Maybe. And only you'd know (whoever YOU is) and for you to say. But I don't believe that's where most people live. I think most people are trying very hard at what they have in front of them: their relationships, keeping their families together and well, paying the bills, navigating a very difficult world, trying to keep faith.

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    1. I am happy for you that you don't believe that is how most people are. I can't speak for most people, but the people I know who are indeed good people, don't necessarily give it their best. Maybe I am looking at this from an every day standpoint and not a spiritual one. But going through the motions in life leads us to going through the motions, if any, in our giving of ourselves spiritually. It's just that the demands of life sometimes take away from thoughts of goodness and grace.

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    2. Well, I'm not going to argue with you. May we see the best in people and be glad for whatever there is in them that is good.

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  8. Father, this post has touched me in ways that you could never know. I get this and hold it in my heart. And I agree that most people are doing the best they can for all the right reasons. Thank you Jesus for coming to Earth and being our light. And thank you Father Stephen for reminding us and being our guide.

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  9. Over 36 years I've lived with over 20 priests. Some were broken, alcoholic, lazy, absent, angry. I can't deny it. But I always believed, "He wasn't that way on his ordination day. Then he was probably full of zeal and hope and self-forgetting." And then somewhere along the way, something happened and he was robbed of that zeal and joy. Something happened. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I want to think the best of people. It's very difficult at times, but that's how I want people to think of me, however I alone know the depths of what is lacking inside me. Jesus is always celebrating what people have to offer - what they can do. "Your faith has saved you, now go in peace,..." he says.

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  10. Great lessons come from these posts on faith and how to strengthen it. I love learning how to become more pleasing to Jesus.

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  11. Thank you. This is an inspiring post. I am grateful for all that I can learn here. And I thank all the people who leave comments for they show I am not alone in my thoughts.

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