Make Your Gifts Your Prayer – Br. Lain Wilson

Leviticus 23:1-11, 26-38
Matthew 13:54-58

A juggler enters a monastery. He soon discovers that, unlike the other monks, he’s not good at typical monkish things: he can’t cook, he can’t sing, he has terrible handwriting. The only thing he can do is juggle, and what use is that? In despair, he goes one night to a statue of the Virgin Mary . . .  and juggles—offering to her, as his prayer, the only thing he has.

The medieval French tale of the “Juggler of Our Lady” imparts a familiar lesson: God gives us gifts that God wants us to use and to offer back in prayer and worship. Our reading from Leviticus this morning gets at something similar: “When you enter the land I am giving to you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest” (Lev 23:10). This section of the reading is from the oldest layer of this passage, and significantly is directed not at the collective, or to priests, but to the individual farmer. “I have given you, as a gift, this land—you shall give me, as a gift, the fruits of that land.”

This notion of giftedness invites us to appreciate the interaction in our Gospel passage differently. Jesus’s neighbors are dumbfounded by his teachings and miracles: “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Mt 13:55). We know this man—we know his family, his background. How can someone like us know the things he knows, and do the things he does? Isn’t he just like us? Why isn’t he just like us? Why isn’t he just like me?

I want to turn this question around—if this man, this remarkable man, is the carpenter’s son, then who am I? How am I singular, remarkable, gifted? Who are you? Maybe you’re a farmer, or a banker, or a teacher. And maybe you also sing, or love the outdoors, or foster puppies. Or juggle. Any number of factors make you you, make you the you created by God, gifted by God to be a singular part of Christ’s Body. Invited to live into your gifts, to own your giftedness, and to offer that back to God in thanks and praise.

What are your gifts? You are uniquely you, and so are your gifts—no one else will have them in the same combination or proportion or magnitude. What are your gifts, and what fruit can they bear? Make that fruit your prayer today.


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  1. Anne Anninger on August 10, 2023 at 22:22

    Thank you so much. Excellent.

  2. dub brooks + on August 10, 2023 at 16:29

    i have been a priest for 41 years i love this homiletical=poem

    thank you
    keep digging deeper as you have already deeper
    and please keep at it =writing to us out here …

    you might even educate me !
    who is not even a juggler…

  3. Paul W. Finnegan on August 10, 2023 at 16:20

    Great message, Brother Lain. I was blessed to meet you at this week’s First Tuesday supper, and it is a joy to experience the fruits of your journey with the Lord. Thank you.

  4. Michael Ricca on August 10, 2023 at 15:49

    Br. Lain,

    Thank you so much for your beautiful and wise words. it’s exactly what i needed to hear today.

    With gratitude,

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