AMPLITUDE, APTITUDE, ATTITUDE
[BREAKING THE BREAD OF GOD’S WORD]
25th Sunday OT_B
September 20, 2015
AMPLITUDE, APTITUDE, ATTITUDE
Allow me to go philological for today. Let us go by way of linguistics …
I would like to think that amplitude comes from the root word “ample” which means enough. It refers to the state of something being sufficient, being adequate, or simply put, the state of fullness of something.
Aptitude, as the root word states, is being the right fit for something, the state or condition of aptness, suitability or being good enough for something. An apt image of aptitude is that of a key that perfectly fits a keyhole and opens the locked door.
Attitude is what one draws from within the self in reference to everything external to one’s self. It is that frame of mind or mold of heart that makes one either favorable or otherwise to anything and everything.
Now, let us apply all three words to the three readings today. In classical Catholic imagination, my task as preacher is to find connections and resonances between the readings of Scripture, and the reality on the ground, in my (our) world – and beyond! A big word for this is the so-called “fusion of horizons” – God’s horizon, and our human, finite horizon.
And the daunting task for preachers like us is to make sense of our limited, finite human horizon when pitted against God’s horizon … God’s will … God’s subtle but compelling messages … God’s dream for us to find meaning even in seemingly meaningless human existence.
Let me be straightforward with you. The first reading tells us we are adequate enough for God to “defend us and deliver from the hand of [our] foes.” The “just one” – or whoever acts in God’s name and acts godly, too, is not one to be abandoned by God, even if the world finds him “obnoxious” and odious.
But the second reading drives home a related message. Being adequate as a person or being fit enough for God is not a given, but a task – an ongoing task. We were born selfish. We were born whimpering and whining and crying for attention. We started out in life as a bundle of needs, no matter how adults found us cute and cuddly. But some of us went beyond needs. We graduated to being jealous, selfish and ambitious.
We grew up with an attitude. Starting from the disobedience of Adam and Eve, we learned the ropes of sin, born as we all were stained by original sin. We gave in to passions and those passions engendered all forms and types of conflict – between and among ourselves.
Amplitude and attitude-wise, we all can agree on one thing. We fall short. We don’t make the cut. We are not good enough.
But we do have a lot of desires. We grew up conjuring up big dreams.
We hurtled along the timeline of earthly life wanting this, and wanting that … desiring this and that … wanting to be great here and there; sitting one on the throne’s left and one on the throne’s right, never mind if we didn’t have neither the amplitude nor the aptitude.
But Eucharist is all about being what God dreams for us … all about being what God wants for us and wants of us … all about being gifted with the best, with the unbelievably greatest gift – Himself in and through Christ His Son!
And Gospel is all about good news – the Good News that you and I need to hear today.
And yes, I do have bad news for you! This bad news will pave the way for the really good news hiding behind the rafters.
And what is this, you might ask? God doesn’t care much for aptitude and amplitude. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. He makes ample the inefficient and the insufficient. He makes wonders out of brokenness and sinfulness. Ooopps! That is me right there … sinful, broken, unqualified, not good enough … ugly as sin.
But whilst there is nothing we can do about aptitude and amplitude, there is a whole lot we can do about attitude. And here is the sure-fire formula to ace it …
Become like a little child. Be last, not first. Serve others, and don’t expect others to dish out greatness to you like a birth right. No room for big egos here. No space for even bigger senses of entitlement. Not here. Not there. Not anywhere. Don’t act like a little demigod. Allow God to be God. Lord. Creator. Father. Provident God.
And yes, before I forget … shed off attitude, and God will equip you with the needed amplitude and aptitude!