There is charm in timing, a kind of magic that lets you know when “the right time” arrives and a sort of cloudiness that lets you know it is not quite “the right time”. The trick is to be able to read the signals with confidence and calm, to make the choices that make a difference, to trust intuition and to risk the outcome. There are first dates and marriage proposals, promotions and downsizing and they all involves that same attentiveness to what is happening at the moment. Being self-aware, conscious of stressors and uncertainities, flaws and foibles, is essential. Being able to be totally honest with self is even more important and more challenging.
We are the heroes of our stories, the survivors of the narratives that shape our lives. We live with illusions and delusions, and sometimes we allow that to override the simplicity of truth and the magnitude of real courage. We color our lives with desired design at the intersection of reality and recall. Sometimes, that aptitude enables us to bury the harder truths and pursue illusions about who and what we are, even live there without even a glance at the deeper truths. We dare not linger in the spaces where we can discover that.
Faith asks us for more than that. Faith dares us to recognize the complexity of human circumstance and the simplicity of human life. The Gospel today points that out. While the disciples discuss who is the greatest, they are ashamed to admit that to Jesus. And he provides a poignant reminder:
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”
They were dancing with the human hope for status and recognition; He was talking about embracing the ones who appear in our path with affection, respect and love. It means recognizing what is happening at that moment, the wonder and the weight of meeting destiny in the light of a child’s eyes. In subtle phrases, there is the idea that heroes belong to homes, to fragments of time and memory. But we, as human beings, belong entirely to one another with all the richness and brokenness of who we are and who we can be.
We have the capacity to recognize truth in the eyes of another, to find it flailing within ourselves, to share it with love and kindness. When the right time comes, and it is possible, honesty is born, the child of courage who has spoken truth. There is a purity in those moments that mirrors the innocent interactions of children who somehow sense who truly cares and shower affection in response. Home exists in those moments, those “right times” when truth and honesty open the door to love and respect. It is about so much more than being a hero: it is about being a person who is loved and loves without regret or reserve. It is about knowing when is the right time.