May 19, 2019 [5th Sunday Easter] ● Acts 14:21-27 ● Psalm 145 ●
● Revelation 21:1-5a ● + John 13:31-33a, 34-35 ●
Title: The Participation Trophy
[_01_] Does “participation” deserve a trophy or an award, an honor?
Is “participation” an honor?
Perhaps, you have been in conversations about sports or little league or travel-soccer and competitions or on the opposite end of someone’s diatribe against giving someone a trophy for participation.
Some people say No….
I’m quoting a psychologist now…. “For example, instead of dealing with defeat by telling our kids that “everyone’s a winner at heart,” we should praise them for how hard they hustled, what they did right and how they improved.
But it’s not just the “losers” we need to worry about; it’s the “winners” too. Phrases like “You’re a winner” or “You’re a natural” can actually be toxic to how kids deal with losing. As the work of child psychologist Carol Dweck shows us, praising kids for their innate talents (in this study’s case, their intelligence) actually makes it more difficult for them to cope when they’re actually confronted with losing.” (Psychology Today blog, Nov. 7, 2014)
So … going back to my question ..how important is participation. Participation counts.
It may or may not need a trophy, but participation counts.
[_02_] When I was about 13 years old, my sister and youngest sibling was born and came into our family.
That day, my brothers and I went to our municipal/town pool – as per usual – and my mother went to the hospital and when she came home we were one more.
The entry of my sister into the house was what I am calling a PARTICIPATION moment.
It was not about having a PARTICIPATION trophy, but nevertheless, a PARTICIPATION question.
Now I was 13 at the time, of course I had life all figured out.
But with a new human being, now I did not have life all figured out, how this was going to work.
So, I watched what other people did around my sister. Was I caught up and overwhelmed also by their joy?
But, nevertheless, I did learn to participate in their love, and this participation was an honor and the participation moments were moments of growth for me.
[_03_] And, this is what I suggest what Jesus means by the commandment “love one another as I have loved you…”
That is, will you – will I – participate?
And, for those of us who have watched a child grow whether as a parent, grandparent, sibling, teacher, coach, family member, that this participation requires some knowledge…mayb the acquiring or learning of knowledge that we do not already have…and that are called participate in. Whether you are age 73 or 13 or 103.
[_04_] I think we recognize that “knowledge” is something we area always acquiring that it comes from outside of ourselves. For this reason, we are never without a device that has wi-fi or the ability to search by GPS.
I was absolutely stunned the other day when a young person – carrying a smart phone – asked me for directions to an address on Woodside Avenue near Valley Way. I was honored to participate in this, and hopeful that maybe more people – than I think --- do stop to ask for directions and that we can participate by our connection to others and our guidance and charity to each other.
And, Jesus’ command to love another as I have loved you reminds that our lives are connected ..
Father Ronald Knox in a sermon observes it is harmonious with both our faith and reason to pray for each other … both for children yet to be born, for mothers and fathers…and for those whose lives may die and pass from this life.
We are called to care for each other and to responsible for each other for this life and the next.
Our lives on earth are interwoven, intertwined- the child to be born. We were not meant to be solitary units here or in the world to come. This is what it means to “love another as I have loved you.”
All other laws are based on this law, and also calls us to be “extreme” not only in our care for the child to be born but also for the mother and father and family who must raise the child. I credit our parishioner, Professor Charles Camosy of Fordham for that sentence and his writing on the “consistent life ethic”
[_05_] A few years after my sister was born, we were together for her wedding and wedding rehearsal at a church in southern California, in San Diego.
This was another little lesson about participation and knowledge and love.
I was in this church for the very first time for the rehearsal and trying to be helpful, as the priest. But, you can’t get around the fact that I am not only the priest, but also, now, the brother, the son, the kid they’ve known for decades, et cetera.
So, who am I tell everyone where to stand and to “guide” this rehearsal. I was both a participant and a leader.. kind of like all weddings.
And, so at the beginning of the rehearsal, I start to tell the other “participants” the following:
- The bride will stand here
- The groom will stand here.
- The maid of honor will go here and do this…et cetera….
My sister objected to my level of detail and organization and – daresay my “labeling.”
Labeling is bad, right?
So, my sister – “why can’t we use everyone’s name?”
i.e., I am your sister, Jeff is your brother-in-law-to-be, the maid of honor you have known for 30 years.
So, I started calling everyone by their names. We were family I did not need name tags.
“Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus loved and died for you, by name, not for people in general, but for you, for me.
He knows you and me by name.
We might recall that it is not KNOWLEDGE that enables us to participate and love another person.
Rather, love enables us to know and participate.Love is the beginning of knowledge. Love one another as I have loved you. Participation. It’s an honor. [_06_] [_fin_]