August 11, 2012 - Memorial of Saint Clare, virgin

Habakkuk 1.12-2:4
Psalm 9.8-9, 10-11, 12-13 Resp. 11b
Matthew 17.14-20

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker needs to lift his spaceship out of the swamp. Yoda comes and tells him that he can do it. Luke says, “Okay, I’ll give it a try” and then Yoda says “NO. Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.” The point is that if a person is trying to do something, they are already admitting the possibility of failure. In order to be successful with the Force, Luke has to believe that he can do what he is going to do.

So, to bring it back to reality. What Jesus is saying is “do or do not, there is no try”. I suppose, the disciples were amazed at the authority they possessed. Every time they were successful, they were a little surprised. They are sort of always expecting failure. Faith is believing the promises of God and believing that God is trustworthy. Jesus promised them the authority to cast out demons. So when they meet a demon today who is, for whatever reason, able to resist a little, they finally get what they always expected, and they are incapable of acting on the promise because they believe that it is somehow limited, but all that is limited is their faith.

What does all this have to do with you and me? The Force is not real, and it is not our vocation to cast out demons. Do Jesus’ words only apply to exorcisms? No. He applies them to mountains. What do you want to accomplish in your life? If you are thinking of piles of money or success at work, I have nothing for you. Jesus never made any promises about that. But if you want to succeed overcome sin then these words do apply. If you are simply trying to succeed, you will fail. You will come up against resistance and then decide that you do not have the power to conquer the temptation. But Jesus promised us that we can overcome. Yes, we can. If we believe that promise, we will stop trying and start doing. In the spiritual life, this saying is reliable: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Do you want to become a saint? I hope you do. Here is how: stop trying to be a saint and start being one. Decide to do what is right, and then, whenever you fail, go to Confession and start doing again.