Fifth Sunday of Lent March 28, 2004
…. I mentioned before Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw. He died yesterday [March 27], as I said. We all have his little black book of reflections, and on Wednesday he had a text he wanted us to reflect on during Lent. For me, it shows how much he was aware that God is always doing something new in us, so we should never be discouraged or give up. We should never feel overwhelmed by whatever has happened to us personally or overwhelmed by the problems in the world. God is at work in the world, always doing something new.
Wednesday was the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. For the reflection that day, Bishop Untener included a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him. They were, in fact, spoken by John Cardinal Dearden in November of 1979. They come from a homily he gave at a Mass for deceased priests. But what is even more important to know is that they were words drafted for Cardinal Dearden by Ken Untener. They are really his words, and they show us an insight that I think is very important.
It helps now and then to step back and take the long view. The reign of God 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 the reign of God 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. We cannot do everything but there is a sense of liberation in realizing that because this enables us to do something and to do it well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.
Ken had a very deep awareness that God is at work within the lives of each one of us. Within our world, the reign of God is happening, and it will happen in its fullness. We are invited to keep on doing something to help make that happen. We can't do it all, but we can do something. The reign of God is breaking forth. God is always doing something new.