God will provide—for real

Homily for May 14, 2017 (5th Sunday of Easter)
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12

A young woman brought her fiancé, whom she had met at college, home to meet her parents.  Before dinner, her mother asked her father to find out a little more about their prospective son-in-law.  So, the father, a wealthy and successful businessman, invited him down to the “man cave” in the basement.  Over a couple of beers and a bowl of snacks and a few glances at ESPN Sports Center, he asked him a few questions.

“I hear that you just graduated from college with a double major in English and History.  What kind of job do you have?”

“Well, sir,” the young man confidently replied, “I’m driving a few days a week for Uber and work another 10 hours a week as a barista at Starbucks.  I’m not worried.  God will provide.”

The father continued with his line of questioning, touching on the young man’s outstanding student loans and his plans for a master’s degree in Medieval History, where the couple would live, how they would provide for their children, and so on. The young man’s answers seemed a little vague, but he ended each response with the assurance, “But I’m not worried.  God will provide.”

After a pleasant supper, the young couple left the house, the wife and her husband settled down in the living room and she asked, “Well, honey, how did it go?”

The man paused for a moment.  “Well, “he said to her, “I’ve got good news and bad news.  The good news is he has two part-time jobs, $50,000 in student loan debt, and no real clue about how they’re going to provide for their future or their children.”

His wife gulped and asked, “That’s the good news?  What’s the bad news?”

The man scratched his head and said, “He thinks I’m God.”

Perhaps we’ve all heard the phrase “God will provide” so much that it’s almost come a cliché.  But as people of faith we also know it’s no joke.  We’ve seen it in our own lives:  someone was healed when the doctors weren’t sure they would make it; some money came in to pay a bill that was worrying us; a job offer came through just in time. 

Today’s scripture readings proclaim to us that God provides for us in many ways, both in the here-and-now and in the hereafter:

God provides a place for us in eternity.  “In my Father’s house,” Jesus assured his disciples at the Last Supper, “there are many dwelling places…I am going to prepare a place for you…and I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”

God provides a place for us here and now.  It’s called the Church, what St. Peter describes as a community of “living stones…chosen and precious in the sight of God” and called out of darkness into light to be “built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

God provides direction for us in the form of a person, Jesus Christ, who told his disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

We see in our passage from Acts 6 that God also provides for us as new challenges and new needs confront us.  The young community of disciples in Jerusalem faced a problem:  the Greek-speaking widows seemed to be getting “the short end of the stick” in the daily distribution of bread.  We don’t know if it was due to prejudice or simply poor communication due to language differences.  Whatever the underlying reason may have been, this problem was dividing and disturbing the community.

In response, the Twelve got together with the community and worked out a process that still works in the church today:

  • They discerned the need for a new ministry—to serve (in Greek, diakoneo) at table—as well as those who would fulfill it.
  • They determined the qualifications for those who would serve in that ministry: “reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom.”
  • They chose, called and presented those who were selected.
  • They commissioned them through the laying on of hands—a gesture the Church continues to use even today in the Sacraments Confirmation and Holy Orders, as well as for a variety of ministries. 
  • They prayed for them. 
  • They did their part, but they also made room for God to work.  “The word of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”

God has provided.  God is providing.  God will provide—for real.  That’s good news! +