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A Hindu was interested in becoming a member of the Catholic Church and he joined the RCIA program. In one of the classes, he raised his hand and said to the instructor, “Let me get this straight; you are blessed if you are poor; you are blessed if you’re persecuted. If someone strikes me on the cheek, I should offer the other. I have to love your enemy and pick up my cross, every day. I must forgive seven times seventy times. I am not sure I can do this. Christianity is for extraordinary people like Mother Teresa.” The instructor said, “Let me finish the course so you can understand.” On the last day of classes, the student said, “Now I think I understand Christianity a little better. God empowers ordinary people like the fisherman and me to do extraordinary things.” And then he added, “I think I like that vision.” 

I walked by St. Clement and took a look at the flower garden in front of the church sign. I immediately noticed a large sumac tree growing in front blocking the wording. It was not there a few days ago. My neighbor who helps with the gardening was there and I said, “Where did the sumac come from?” He pointed across the street to a sumac tree and said, “A bird probably was over there eating its lunch and then came over here and sat on your sign and made a donation.” The question I had was how did it get big so fast.  So let’s take a look at the plight of the sumac seed. The bird lands on my sign and the seed falls lands on a soft pillow of peat moss mixed with a generous amount of lobster compost that I got for half price from my friend at the nursery. There the seed lies, basking in the morning sun. Then about noontime, it is showered with rain. “Oh, what is this I taste?” says the seed, “Miracle Grow.” No wonder the sumac popped up so quickly. I gave it everything it needed to realize its greatest potential. In the same way, Christ offers us everything we to live extraordinary lives.

Not too long ago we remodeled the church. I helped out by getting the stock, cleaning the worksite, and getting everyone coffee. At one point I asked my father if he needed any help. He said, “Why don’t you put up the oak trim around the windows.”  I told him it has been a while since I did finish work, and that I was a little rusty. I could picture the hammer slipping off the nail and leaving a divot in the wood. He said, “You run around for everyone and I want you to have a nice job to do for a change.” I said, “Fine,” and I got my tools. Dad asked, “What is that?” I said, “It is a hammer.” He said, “We don’t use hammers anymore, we use nail guns. Here, use mine.” Then he asked me, “What is that?” I told him it was handsaw. Dad told me that they use chop saws and he gave me his to use. It was so easy with those tools. Just put the piece of wood in place, take the nail gun and click. It was so easy it was actually fun. After I was finished, Dad came over to inspect my work and he said, “Good job.” I said, “Ya, that is because I used your tools and instructions.”

Here is my point. Christ gives us very hard rules to follow. True, He raises the standards, but He also gives us everything we need to reach these heights with His instruction, example, and grace. With the right tools from Christ, it is not only easy to achieve greatness but also enjoyable. When someone is having a bad day and we are nice to them, we enjoy seeing their expression. We love stories when people reconcile and come back together. God takes ordinary people and does extraordinary things.

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