Jack Finney's Homily from November 13, 2011

Holy Wisdom Monastery Homilies Leave a Comment

It is a spiritual principle that whenever we receive a call, an
invitation, or have a gift to share there will always be resistance. To
carry through we will also need support. The resistance can come in the
form of a critic—either from within or without; laziness, or fear as in
the case of the one talent person in today’s Gospel. The support can
come from God/prayer; others; and inner resources. We see this pattern
in everyone who is called or gifted. Moses’ resistance was that he was
not a public speaker; but God gave him others for support. Jeremiah’s
resistance was that he was too young; and God gave him the support he
needed. I experienced this principle in my teen years. I heard a clear
call to ordained ministry at around age 13. My father offered the
resistance. He was not happy with that idea. He wanted me to go into
business so I could make a lot of money. My maternal grandmother was my
chief support. She said,  “All your father cares about is money. I’ll
pay for your education if he won’t.” Only many years later was my
father proud of me and my choice.

In today’s parable the one talent person never moved beyond resistance.
He did not seek support. He was immobilized by fear. He was kidnapped
by fear. He was stuck in his fear.

You know what fear is don’t you? F.orever  E.vading  A.nother  R.eality!

Early in my ministry I met Don. He treated stomach discomfort for
months with over the counter medications. He refused to see a doctor.
He was afraid of what the doctor might find. Finally when he had no
choice but to go to the doctor, the doctor reported that the malignant
tumor was the size of a grapefruit. Had he come earlier it could have
been removed. Don was paralyzed by fear. He sought support too late.

My guess is that the two talent person and the five talent person also
had fear; but they were not their fear. A part of them also sough support.

I assume the sisters here at the monastery have fear about the financial
issues at this place; but they are not immobilized by their fear. They
are reaching out and asking for help from us and others and God.

When God calls us, invites, gives us gifts to use how do we deal with
our fear? Where do we find support? Fear is a “biggie.” I’m told that
the Scriptures say, “Have no fear” 365 times. That’s one a day. Some
of you are familiar with the Enneagram. Type 6’s  on the Enneagram
especially need to work with their fear. Richard Rohr, an Enneagram
leader, believes one half of Americans’ are type 6. Some describe us
as a fear based culture.

For those who experience fear, I offer seven practices for living with

1. Exaggerate your fear until you laugh. When my wife was a teacher she
felt a lot of pressure to put artwork in the halls. I would ask her,
“what is the worst that can happen?” I would balloon her fear to the
point where she was called before the school board and was asked to
resign. She would laugh and say, “That’s not going to happen.”

2. My friend Karl has a fear and worry box. He writes each one down and
puts them in the box. Every so often he reads what he had written and
notices that not more than 2% actually happened. That brings perspective.

3. Someone said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” This
weekend at the oblate retreat our theme has been “A Million Ways to
Pray,” some words I borrowed from Sister Mary David. One of the ways we
prayed was to fold our hands with the awareness that we and God were in
partnership. One hand can represent our fear and the other hand can
represent the courage God wants to give to us. The prayer might be, “OK
God, we’re going to have to work on this one together, hand in hand.”

4. Listen to your fear. Don’t try to get rid of it or ignore it. I once did
therapy called inner parts therapy. My therapist asked me to
give a name and face to all the characters that lived in my inner
village. Included were a fearful child;  a wild teenager; a responsible
adult; a monk; the inner Christ or Holy Spirit, etc. When something
needed to be faced or decided she encouraged me to have each of those
parts speak up. After the fearful child spoke I would thank him and
say, ” I’ll take that into consideration.” (Sometimes fear has some
life saving messages). But generally I would not let fear take over.
Just as you don’t let a child take over the family. Then I would tell
the fearful  he could now go take a nap.

5. One of my teachers shared a sentence I keep remembering,  “Lean into
your fear.” That’s what happens when a child learns to swim. She
stands on the side of the pool afraid, but never the less, leans forward
and jumps in. That’s what happened to Peter when Jesus told him to get
out of the boat and walk toward him on the water. At first he did fine;
but then he got caught up in his fear again, took his eyes off Christ,
and fell into the water.

6. Check out your fears with people who can give you good information.
That’s what my parishioner, Don, failed to do with his fear about his
stomach pain.  In 1999 I experienced a call/desire to retire earlier
than planned from public ministry. I knew it was time for me to leave
that parish.  There was no other parish I wanted to serve. I was 59 1/2
which meant I could withdraw pension money without penalties; and I was
hearing a call to do the kind of work I’m doing now—retreats, talks,
preaching, and giving spiritual guidance. When I told my wife my desire
she froze with fear. Nothing I said helped. We saw a therapist for
about eight sessions. I thought that was helpful; but my wife said, “Of
course you did, she sided with you.”  Then we saw our financial
advisor. He said, “You do it.” My wife’s fear thawed a bit and we took
the leap. Looking back, she would say it worked out fine.

7. We are reminded in Scripture, “Perfect love casts out fear.” For a
few weeks before his open heart surgery my friend Rich used the breath
prayer over and over again—Breathe in love; Breathe out fear. Let’s
silently each practice that for a moment as we match the words with our
breath. Breathe in love; Breathe out fear.

Is God calling you, nudging you, inviting you? Do you have a deep
desire to do or be something? Do you have a gift to share? How will
you relate to your fear? Where will you find your support?

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