Hope in the Lord — Expecting the unexpected

I just wrote a note to Alex Kupper. I had to compliment him for his wonderful interview in the most recent edition of the National Catholic Register.

Mr. Kupper has just joined the National Football League’s Houston team as an offensive lineman. In this article, he witnessed to the reality of the sacrifice he has made, the foundation of faith he received from his family and his parish church (St. Agnes in Louisville). And he told of the way he kept the faith through his college years.

His words about his wife and their hopes for their family are words that inspire, and I encourage everyone to read the article.

The headline to his interview is what caught my eye: “Expecting the Unexpected in the NFL.” True in his life, this title could well fit the life of every authentic Catholic who is intent on living fully their baptismal call from Jesus.

Another uplifting event occurred recently. Over the last few years Father John Judie has been good enough to invite me to celebrate Mass and preach at Immaculate Heart of Mary and Christ the King churches, and I had the opportunity to do so this month.

After holy Communion, the Immaculate Heart choir sang, “Praise is What I Do.” How refreshing it was to be at Mass and hear that praise is what I do, with a song all about our Creator. The verses speak of getting up in the morning and giving praise, of giving praise to God whether happy or sad. I could hear the echoes of the psalmist in praising God for the wonders of this life and his creation.

Praising God has to do with expecting the unexpected. The unexpected happens and lifts our spirits — it might be a beautiful sunrise; the glimpse of a loved one seen by our eyes as the magnificent creation of God, lovely to behold; even the awareness that a terrible ordeal has brought forth a sacrificial love from deep within us that we did not know we had in us. On these special occasions, the believer is lifted in praise for a grace that overflows.

These examples reveal a radically different approach to human freedom than one often encountered in the world around us. A true Christian understanding of the human person uncovers all as gift. My very being depends on my Creator, and my very life is to be lived as a gift in praise of him.

My vocation in life means a total giving of self, not a hesitant half gift, but a full and total gift of self. This is able to happen precisely because I know that my very life is not my own but rather a gift from God meant to be given to others in a sacrificial way — as Christ has done for my salvation.

This differs greatly from the illusion that the human person is not a gift from God but is the creator of his or her own destiny. Even though, obviously, I was not born by my own power and will not live forever on my own power, the illusionary presumption is that I am completely free to do what I want, and this freedom ought not to have any limits.

Sadly, what seems on the surface to be ultimate freedom to chart a course in life to become all I want to be is anything but. Instead, a person emerges who turns in on himself and judges all things and all people by the measure of what they can do for him. It also tends to produce a very tentative, fearful and cautious way of living.

How much better to expect the unexpected in our lives from a God who created us, loves us, and will not take back that love! How freeing it is to have that confidence of faith. It makes me want to praise God in and through Jesus Christ, for praise is what I do!

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz

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