[author’s note: From our time of deployment to Iraq.]
By the time you read this I’ll be enjoying training in the country of Kuwait. We’ll be there about two weeks before we continue on to our assignment at Joint Base Balad, which is about 50 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq. The temperature at this time of year is a balmy 120 degrees during the day and we can’t even say it’s a dry heat since there is a great deal of humidity in Kuwait due to its proximity to water. Iraq at least has a dry heat. They say (and I have no who idea who “they” are) that it takes two weeks to acclimate to the heat. Personally I think the only person who can get used to 120 degree temps has been dead for a while, or is practicing for an extended stay in hell. For us new arrivals the heat is extraordinary, but for those who have lived here they see the excessive warmth as ordinary.
I can understand somewhat the difference in views; after all anti-Catholic people look at us as sinners, while we Catholics look on ourselves as—sinners. When we say we are sinners we mean that we acknowledge our unworthiness and limitations before God, who has the mercy to heal and forgive our sins. On the other end, an anti-Catholic looks at us as sinners bound for hell for our various Catholic beliefs—the purity of Mary, purgatory, the Pope, etc. I like to tell some of our non-Catholic naysayers that we use our rosary beads to tap out our secret Confirmation names in code to other Catholics (I know this is not true, but it should be).
The readings this Sunday give us great examples of God’s extraordinary activity, which is also a reminder of His ordinary activity. The special event of Elijah bringing the widow’s son back to life (read the story and tell me the Red Cross didn’t steal Elijah’s idea for resuscitation) [1 Kings 17:17-24], Paul’s conversion [Gal: 1:11-19] and Jesus raising also a widow’s son [Lk 7:11-17] are signs of God’s extraordinary Grace and power at work. These are miracles. The ordinary outpouring of God’s Grace and power come to us daily at the Eucharist, or during Reconciliation, or during Baptism, etc. These are the sacraments—the ordinary signs of God’s love for us. We may never see an extraordinary sign, or miracle but we are invited everyday into Jesus’ loving Heart in the ordinary way He imparts His great Mercy and Love to us—the sacraments.