One summer I had the great opportunity to go sailing on Lake Glenora with my cousin. It was a small sailing boat, and the day was rather windy. My cousin is rather skilled at sailing, and he knew how to catch the wind just right so that we flew across the Lake and back again. When I think about that day, I can still smell the Lake and picture us gliding across the water with ease, the wind whipping through my hair. Cooperating with God’s grace is a lot like sailing. God provides us with the sail-boat, he gives us everything we need to make it through life, and he also provides us with the wind by which we are going to get to heaven.
The question for us then is how are we going to work with or against God? Brothers, we often struggle to cooperate with how God is leading us. Perhaps we can’t hear his voice in the midst of so many anxieties and cares. We feel the burden of our obligations and other people’s expectations, and we fail to keep our eyes focused on the Lord. We often find ourselves in situations similar to today’s Gospel. It seems as though the crowds are intent on stoning the woman. There are clear tensions and clear dangers for Jesus, and this could have been a moment in which his enemies finally triumphed.
Brothers, Jesus’ solution to the problem in today’s Gospel is not something that can be learned in a book. He seems to have a deeper awareness of the situation, one which does not come from human learning but which is truly divine. He seems to see the potential for God’s love to break through into the situation, and he sees something that no one else is able to see. His solution doesn’t just get the job done, Jesus flourishes. God wants us to flourish in our work in the same way that Jesus flourishes. The key is that we have to learn how to be receptive to God’s grace.
Brothers, imagine that instead of simply managing stress and overcoming obstacles that we truly excel in the way Jesus does in today’s Gospel. Jesus is like the master sailor who has learned to catch the wind and ride it with precision and ease. Imagine that we can be as skilled as Jesus; that we respond to the wind of God’s grace as if it were second nature. We are able discover those moments of grace in which we see solutions with clarity. We are able to go beyond the minimum, but also take initiative in ways that change lives and transform hearts.
To be honest with you, I don’t want you to simply imagine something that you will do in the future, but I want you to see the great things that you have already done. One of the major drawbacks of community is that we become all too familiar with our faults and the faults of others. The reality is that every man in this room has done great things, and I believe that each one of us is capable of even greater things. I have come to know each one of you over the past four years, and while it is true there are moments of frustration, I have also seen great moments of inspiration and beauty. The key is that we need to see how God has used us for his glory in the past so that we can learn how to respond to his grace in the future. We need to look not just for patterns of sin in our lives, but also patterns of grace.