….and I love rain and cold, and buses looking cheerful through the evening gloom, and the joy of everyday things that have sudden value in Autumn: mugs of tea, buttered toast, a house with a warm kitchen.
Hello … is this Customer Services?
Hi … I am calling about Order Number 7354 which I placed on-line a few days ago.
Yes, that’s me. You got the right name and address.
Yes … the packet arrived today. Only there’s been a mistake at your despatch department. I ordered a pair of Elegant Gents shoes … no … ELEGANT Gents not eggplant. Yes … Order Number 7354.
Well … instead of two shoes I received three. No … no … not three pairs but actually three shoes. Yes, I’m sure. I have them here in front of me. Let me count them out loud for you … one … two … three. I have three shoes.
Let me explain what is wrong with them.
I have one left shoe. It is an Elegant Gents model. It is size 10. It is black. I love it. The despatch department at your end met all the requirements of my Order Number 7354 as far as the left shoe is concerned. If your firm gave awards for meeting the customer’s order requirements then your despatch people deserve an award as far as the left shoe is concerned.
Not so for the right shoe I’m afraid. This shoe is a totally different model the name of which I do not know nor do I care. It is size 8. Thus being the wrong size and too small to wear. Also it is brown and not black as ordered. So it fails on all counts as ordered by me on-line; and your despatch department deserves to loose the award they would have received for the left shoe.
The third shoe? Well … the third shoe fails on more counts one would wish to consider, had one the time to do so and not having lost the will to live.
For a start … it is surplus to requirements. I do not need a third shoe. Not unless I had a third leg in-between my existing legs instead of my dangling bits.
Secondly, the third shoe, which is surplus to requirements is a left shoe … not that it matters since I already have a perfect left shoe as ordered.
It is size 7 and it is white. It also has a high heel, it being a lady’s shoe and not a man’s shoe remotely resembling the Elegant Gents model as shown on your website.
So all in all your despatch department has only got half the order correct as compared to what I requested. Or 33.3% correct if you account for the additional shoe which, as I said, is surplus to requirements and will not be hanging between my legs.
Hello … hello … are you still there? You went silent for a moment and I heard a stifled sound as if you were not taking me seriously.
I see … Let me see if I understand what you are saying. You will cancel Order Number 7354 altogether and you will refund my credit card for the full amount paid so I am not out of pocket. That’s very decent of you. Is that you laughing, again?
So … What do I do with the shoes you sent me? What … you don’t want them back? You mean I can keep them and no need to return them?
Well … thanks … I’ll use the two men’s shoes as plant pots for my geraniums. I’ve still to decide what to do with the lady’s shoe!
The Responsorial Psalm calls us to be “stewards of the promise” by being “stewards of the memory” of God’speople: “The Lord has done marvels for us” (Psalm 126). To recall this supplies motivation to hope.Romans 8: 18-25 tells us that the only way to view the present is in light of the future. Like a woman in childbirth, “all creation is groaning in labor pains.” But if we look ahead we will consider “the sufferings of the present time as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Jesus said the same: “When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world” (John 16:21). It is looking forward that gets her through the birth pains.In our day we have a special experience of this. The Church is in the throes of a renewal that in vigor, creativity and life-giving changes of structure and policy will surpass the great seventeenth-century “Catholic Counter Reformation.” We know this will happen because there is desperate need for it; and because it has happened before. “The Lord has done marvels for us.” He will do marvels again. He already is doing them.In Luke 13: 18-21 Jesus tells us the action of God in the Church is like the growth of a plant: at any given moment it may not be visible, but over time it works astounding transformations. Like a “mustard seed” growing into a bush so large “the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches,” the Church we see now is in the process of becoming something beyond our imagination — that will make us say in awe, “The Lord has done marvels for us.”In the meantime we have to activate and act by hope. We don’t limit our expectations to what we see. “For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance” (see the first reading).This “waiting” is not passive. We must “be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet.” Jesus says, “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find at work when he arrives. (Luke 12: 36-37; Matthew 24:46). Our waiting is the active waiting of responsible stewardship: to wait is to work, to get things ready, to be on the job; not just to sit around. For this we need motivation. We find it in hope based on what God has done in the past. It is responsible stewardship to look back and remember, “The Lord has done marvels for us.”Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Look back and see the future.