The disciples teach us how to make a leap of faith
A Reflection for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.”
There’s a Kurt Vonnegut quote that has always spoken to me: “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” It’s from “If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young,” a collection of nine commencement speeches by Vonnegut, compiled by his friend Dan Wakefield four years after Vonnegut’s death. I used this line as my senior quote back when I graduated from high school; with my time in the O’Hare Fellowship now at an end, it’s been on my mind again lately.
Having arrived at the end of my 11 months, I have been forced by time to jump off of Vonnegut’s metaphoric cliff. The rest of my life is hurtling at me with frankly alarming speed. I’m worried about hitting the ground. How many job applications before my wings come in? The perennial answer seems to be at least one more!
It’s not always easy when you are halfway down the cliff and the air is rushing past you. Like anything faith asks of us, it is, in fact, quite difficult.
But there is some measure of comfort in knowing that I am far from the only person who has felt this way. When Jesus sent the disciples out to spread his teaching, it didn’t mean the disciples felt ready. In fact, I’m almost positive they did not. To be asked to walk by faith is a frightening thing. We want certainty. We want a path. We want a backpack filled with everything we might need, and we particularly want money and our shoes with us. But that usually isn’t how the world works. We are asked, constantly, to take leaps of faith before we feel we are ready. Some leaps are little. Some leaps are not.
The disciples go out into the world with nothing, and trust that God will provide for them. Jesus does not promise that it will be easy; he does not promise that the disciples won’t be rejected. But he does tell them to go out anyway and to shake the dust off their feet when the rejections happen. This is a lesson for all of us, always, to be a little bit more trusting. To have a little more faith. To be a little more resilient.
It’s not always easy when you are halfway down the cliff and the air is rushing past you. Like anything faith asks of us, it is, in fact, quite difficult. And the fun thing about life is that we will have to do it again, and again, and again, and it never really gets any easier. But we are not the first to jump off this cliff, and we won’t be the last, either. The disciples went before us. We can follow their lead.
I am mid-leap of faith and falling fast. Like the disciples, I am nervous. But also like the disciples, I am excited to go out into the world and see what comes next.