“Stuck In The Middle With You”

Jesus sowing seedJesus uses “wheat, seed and yeast” to describe the Kingdom of God.

“Welcome to the quiz show, ‘Take Your Pick Sunday.’ Take your pick of which one best describes you: wheat, seed or yeast.

Wheat, seed or yeast. If church were a quiz show, we’d have a lovely, lonely housewife from 57th and Lloyd (a street in Milwaukee, WI.) as a contestant. “Mame, if you want a chance to spin the big wheel for the bigger prize, I’m going to need your answer.”

She says, “Seed,” and the audience sighs. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” I’d say to her because I’m the TV host, “The correct answer was ‘yeast.’ Go back to being a housewife.”

Roughly a 35% of choosing the correct answer and missed it. Sounds like religion to me! Jesus is the TV host. He doesn’t wear a tie but has sandals. We’re each given that housewife’s question and one chance to answer correctly.

Or maybe the three choices are different for each of us. Another set of three may be, “believe, not believe or kinda believe.” Take your pick on my left. My right side’s set of three may be that person, “hate, ignore or accept”. The front rows of folks have this set of three: “a true vote for Trump, a vote for Trump because you didn’t like Hillary or a true vote for Hillary.” Take your pick.

But religion is not about choice or choosing. Religion is about a passionate belief in a set of uplifting principles and authentic worship that supports and inspires you, challenges you and stands on all sides of you, your entire life. That’s religion.

There is no quiz show when it comes to religion. The correct answer to my quiz is “D.” The answer is all three: wheat, seed, and yeast. Because, all three deal with growth – moving from one place to another, maturing from one thought to a new insight, deeply owning as we age what we took for granted in grade school. Now, your religion no longer “has you” or “owns you” like the old joke about “pray, pay and obey.” Now you have religion. You’ve grown into it.

What was an interesting story about a prodigal son actually happened in your life, the widow cleaning her house for a silly lost coin triggered something significant in your journey toward a deeper faith, walking on the other side of the road to avoid the wounded Samaritan finally touched something inside of you.

Those of you who know me know that I always have a song rocking away in my head. I love music, well here it is. While typing this reflection, a song from a 70’s rock group called “Steeler’s Wheel” came to mind. I think it was their only song. Forget its boy/girl theme and instead insert religion, belief and spiritual growth.

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
And I’m wondering what it is I should do,
It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,
‘Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you…”

We existed in God’s eyes before we were born and one day will return to our Creator. Our lives are that “middle” and we’re trying to figure it out along with fellow “clowns” and “jokers” – all of us “stuck” in this middle. And through faith, we are able to “unstick” ourselves by reflecting on the qualities and benefits of the simple things of life: wheat, seed and yeast, and then build our lives from there.

The lonely housewife from 57th and Lloyd was correct. She could pick any of the three: wheat, seed or yeast and be right. And she would have won a swing at the big wheel for the bigger prize – eternal life.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available at Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

Newest books include:
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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