Tuesday, June 21, 2022


In my retirement, when I think of all the projects I have worked on, I often ask myself "Why do you do what you do?" I have no children. I am retired. I don't need all the hassle and bother. The simple answer is one of two things. Either I am (a)  just a pathetic obsessive-compulsive personality that is driven to accomplish things or (b) I am trying to leave a legacy for the generation that follows me so that they can share in some of the things that brought me such richness of life. As I ponder these things, the following words from the Book of Deuteronomy (4:9) stand out for me.

Take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things
which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children's children.

This passage from the Second book of Maccabees (6:28) also comes to mind when I think about leaving a legacy for those who follow me. People like me are hopefully "prophets of a future not our own." 

I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.

The late Bishop Kenneth Untener was a significant presence in the U.S. Church. This late Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, wrote the following prayer in 1979, following the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot while celebrating Mass for his prophetic stand for the rights of the poor and powerless in El Salvador

“Prophets of a Future Not Our Own”

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:

We plant seeds that one day will grow.

We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and to do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

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