I’ve never been so pleased at being told to take my business elsewhere.
Essentially, that’s what went down early on Monday morning. I’d taken my car to a local independent repair shop – hoping to get a suspicious “front-end rattle” diagnosed and repaired at a reasonable cost.
My guess was that something along the lines of tie-rods or struts needed fixing. The shop owner took a listen – zeroed in on the steering column as the actual source of the noise – and then sent me on my way.
He knew it would get expensive to start taking things apart under-the-dash. And he figured that a dealership shop might be willing to discount (or warranty) the work, given the fact my 6-year-old car has barely 50,000 miles on the odometer.
Great advice, it turns out. Unbeknownst to me, I was experiencing a “known issue” with the steering column gear. AND it was covered by an extended warranty, according to a Service Bulletin from the manufacturer. Bottom line – the dealer’s shop took care of the rattle, and sent the bill on to the manufacturer.
It might be a bit much to consider this incident an example of Divine Providence (although I DID drive away from the dealership with a song of thanksgiving and praise in my heart…)
When I heard today’s Gospel, though, I was struck by how much this car-repair episode does resemble the call to discipleship.
Jesus said to his Apostles:
“As you go, make this proclamation:
‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
It occurred to me that – as Christians – we do often benefit from “extended coverage.” We seek, and receive, forgiveness for our sins…again and again. We feast on the Body and Blood of Christ…again and again. We enjoy the Lord’s blessed assurance in so many ways – and typically, it’s “without cost” that we have received these gifts…again and again.
But I notice, it’s not just gratitude that Jesus desires from his disciples. Rather, he invites them…encourages them…commands them…to pay it forward.
“Cure the sick.”
“Raise the dead.”
“Cleanse the lepers.”
“Drive out demons.”
Don’t know about you, but I consider that a pretty big service order. I’m inclined to think I’m far too broken a person to have any of those powers at my disposal. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that any “healing graces” I might once have possessed – well, they’re now surely out-of-warranty.
But I also notice that Jesus doesn’t take much stock in those petty fears we hold so dear. Rather, he simply assures us that we’re covered. And then he sends us on our way, to help spread the Good News.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.