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The Philistines were a people of nearly giant-like proportions from the North. They decided to seek a warmer climate, so they set out and journeyed south. As they traveled, they pillaged every village and city. They never lost a battle until they attacked Egypt. After the defeat, the Philistines settled along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and became menacing neighbors to the Israelites. The tension between the two nations led up to one of the most lopsided battles ever fought. A one-on-one fight would decide the final outcome: winner takes all. The Philistines picked Goliath to represent their nation. A wise choice because he was the tallest and most skilled among the giants. God chose David, an unimposing young shepherd. An unlikely choice to meet the greatest warrior alive. Why does God do that? Why does he always pick the unqualified and the limited to do His work?
Remember Gideon? Gideon had an army of 32,000 troops. He was about to face the enemy 135,000 soldiers. Needless to say, the odds did not look very good for Gideon. So God came to Gideon. Do you know what God told him? He told Gideon that he had too many soldiers. He needed to reduce the number. “If anyone in the army is afraid of the odds or is concerned about the disparity, then he can go home.” Then 22,000 men turned around and walked away. So Gideon was left with 10,000 brave men. God returned to Gideon. Oh, no, now what? Take a guess what God told Gideon? There are still too many troops in his army, so Gideon reduced the number to 300 men, and with only 300 they won. Why does God do that? Why does God choose a man born blind to school the educated Pharisees? Why does He always choose those who are limited and unqualified?
At the end of my first year in the seminary, I went to the rector’s office for my evaluation. It didn’t go very well. He said my grades were low, and the staff didn’t think I could cut it as a priest. They decided, however, to give me one more semester. I was devastated. I remember going to the church after the meeting, and I put my head down. I said to God. “I thought You wanted me to be a priest. It was You who instilled in me the desire since I was in second grade. Did I get the signals mixed up?” God then spoke to me. He said, “Peter, Peter, I am not done. Will you let Me finish the story?” I said, “Yes, You can finish the story.”
Many years later after I was ordained, I was driving out to St. John’s Seminary where I am the professor of classical languages and of the New Testament. I was on my way there to teach New Testament Greek to the seminarians. My confrère, Fr. David Beauregard, a Shakespearean scholar was also a teacher at St. John’s. While we were at a stoplight, I turned to him and asked, “Do you remember my first year in the seminary when you and the staff wanted to kick me out because I was not smart enough? Did you ever think back that it would be me who would be going to St. John’s to teach? Of all the great students and protégés you had over the years, did you ever think that it would be the two of us to represent our community at St. John’s as professors? Did that ever come to mind?” He turned to me and said, “That was God.” After he said that, God spoke to me again. He said, “So, what did you think of my story?” I said, “I love the ending.” God replied, “Everyone likes my endings.” We have to remember that.
If King David were to appear before us to impart to us some of his wisdom, he would say something like this: “When I walked out into that battlefield to face the giant, I had no sword, no shield, no experience, and no right to be on that battlefield. Everyone on both sides laughed at me. I said to God, “This is your moment; this is Your hour to shine. Let me be the one to show the world how great you are.”
That is what we have to say. When we are discouraged, at our lowest moment, say those words: “Let me be the one to show how great God is.” I know you are going to love the ending.Back to All Homilies