11th Sunday in Ordinary time A
Last week, I was privileged to attend the funeral of a friend of mine. We’ll call him Les, because that’s his real name. Les was never embarrassed about his story. He never wavered from recounting the huge mistakes he had made, his years of addiction, being a millionaire businessman and squandering it all, his time in prison, his many loves, and the loss of them. He had just celebrated, for the second time, being ten years clean. He was incredibly proud of his family, many of whom had walked the same broken path that he walked. An estranged granddaughter broke our hearts as she sang “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen) in te reo Māori. A cold and broken Hallelujah, but still Hallelujah.
Many people came forward to give testimony to how Les had changed their lives. There was a constant theme: We are not the worst thing that we have done. As they shared their own brokenness, they also shared how much they valued Les at Exodus because they knew there would be no judgement. He was always accepting, forgiving, encouraging, and hopeful. He sat with those who had relapsed and said; we can start again. He took broken hearts and wills, and tended them.
In the words of that same Leonard Cohen:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in (Anthem, Leonard Cohen)
Les’ whole life, and the lives of those he tended, was about Redemption. To show there is no perfect offering, not while we walk this earth. But we make our offering, still. Of allowing the light to shine through the cracks that scar us. By helping up those who couldn’t get up, and helping up those that wouldn’t stand up.
Of taking the lost, and allowing them to experience that the Kingdom of God is close at hand.
Peter Gardiner is a Passionist Priest in Sydney. He is primarily involved in outreach ministries.