Commitment’s New Horizons

Owing to the life of Eunice Kennedy Shriver the founder of Special Olympics and much more: the world knows a little more about how commitment to others works, and how one’s beliefs and actions can have an impact far beyond anything of which we can dream,. Ideally full commitment requires not, 50 or 75% involvement, it seeks the whole heart and soul. Shriver was said to often be, “ a lone voice in a sea of misunderstanding.”  When others saw children with challenges, she always visualized and invested herself in possibilities.

 Eunice Kennedy Shrive knew deeply about personal challenge as her sister Rosemary was profoundly disabled. Perceiving her own gifts and freedom from limitations, Shriver was known to be tenacious and a true warrior for the cause.

Each of our three scripture readings today deals with the subject of commitment.

The first reading deals with the commitment of the people of Israel to God and the difficulty they found in living it out. The gospel points to the difficulty the disciples had in meeting the challenge by what Jesus said earlier about giving them his body to eat. The second reading shines a light on the commitment of two people in marriage. Jesus invites all of us to face our commitments and not to break them.

In preparing young folks for marriage today, I cannot help but offer them the guidance that marriage doesn’t so much cost a commitment, as it so often pays! Following Christ’s ways of selfless love sometimes requires husbands and wives through love and commitment to be a care giver, to comfort and carry the other at tough times. The mystery of married love grows and grows if nurtured in goodness.

 What is so hard about commitment? What do you find hard about commitment?

When I was a youngster, each of us 4 boys in the family had a job to do to help with mealtimes. Today, I can vividly recall the toil of peeling a mountain of potatoes, nicking my fingers with that darned peeler, and noisily grumbling about the easier lot the other boys had in only having to set the table, or clear the table or wash or dry the dishes. It was only in the youthful too-rare moments of insight when I could see my commitment of time, sweat and blood, was a big help gift, and was a love payback to my mom and more. My mom used to say, Donnie boy, the Lord loves a cheerful giver! Today, I wish I could peel a huge endless mountain of potatoes for my mom and take some of the heavy load from her once again.

 In personal ministry confronting that moment of tension of grumbling, or full giving commitment,  is the picture I hold dear.  How can I meet the challenge of Cheerful giving?

Today, like Eunice Kennedy Shriver we each can see unique personal opportunities for commitment in front of our eyes and are offered a decision to take action, invest ourselves, or, like the saddened faint hearted followers of Jesus in the gospel, head for the easy chair.

 I will close with yet another example mosaic of the kind of commitment Jesus invites us to in eating his body and being connected to God the father, in challenging times and others.

 In this beautiful commitment mosaic: I see the love of moms, dads and families, who care for disabled or paralyzed youngsters. I see husbands care for wives with Alzheimer’s. I see coaches cheer on Down’s syndrome persons and award them with a winning hug. I see youngsters, moms and dads cook, and clean, peel potatoes when no one notices, or is there to offer a little help for them. I see volunteers of so many kinds, I see Eunice Kennedy Shriver as great role model, as a relentless advocate to those that cannot advocate for themselves.

You have made a commitment to be here, and I have a hunch this assembly will not be the ones that run away when asked to peel potatoes, umpire, teach, or pitch in. I am convinced in the long run, commitment doesn’t so much cost, it pays!

Deacon Don Grossnickle


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