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Doing It Poorly

June 1, 2014 click on left end of black bar to play-pause

June 1, 2014
Matthew 28:16-20
Fr. George Smiga

G. K. Chesterton, a great Christian philosopher of the last century, wrote this in 1910. “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” Now obviously Chesterton is playing with the common saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” and has turned it on its head. When we first hear his version, we are quite sure that he is wrong. But with more reflection, it becomes clear that Chesterton is revealing a profound truth. Anything worth doing, anything important, is something that we should do even if we do not do it well, even if we do it poorly.

Now Chesterton was quick to point out, that his saying does not apply to everything. There are certain technical actions such as brain surgery or discovering the North Pole that you should not attempt unless you are confident that you are good at it. But he also went on to say that these things are not the most important things. The most important things in life—such as falling in love, raising children, helping those in need—are all things that we should do, and must do, even if we do not do them very well. “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.”

Today’s gospel has some striking parallels to Chesterton’s saying. It is the Great Commission scene which ends Matthew’s gospel. In it the risen Christ sends out his disciples to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth. But even in this glorious scene there are two indications that not all is well. Right at the beginning we are told, “The eleven disciples went to Galilee”. There are eleven disciples because one of the twelve, Judas, betrayed Jesus and afterwards went out and hanged himself. So the disciples are incomplete because of betrayal and suicide. The eleven disciples that do arrive in Galilee are also flawed. They worship Christ but they also doubt. So how is it possible that this incomplete and doubting group of disciples is going to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth? Why is Jesus sending them? Jesus is sending them because proclaiming the Good News of God’s love is worth doing, even if the disciples do it badly.

What is true for the disciples is true for us. We are not perfect people, but our flaws do not excuse us from doing those things that are worth doing. We must love our families, even if sometimes we do not love them well and if the love that we offered is not always reciprocated. We must guide our children, even though our patience runs thin and the advice that we offer is sometimes rejected. We must proclaim the good news of the gospel to the world. Jesus sends us as he sent his disciples. We must show by our lives that God is real, even though our lives are sometimes marked by selfishness and fear. We must proclaim with our words that God’s love is present, even though others might sometimes see that our words do not match our actions.

The world needs to know the presence of God. There are many who wait for the comfort of God’s love. That is why Christ sends us out to proclaim it. We are compromised and flawed to be sure, but Jesus still sends us. This is because announcing the Reign of God, proclaiming the presence of God, is worth doing—even if we do it poorly.

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