faith of family / who is my Cyrus? - reflection from the deacon (my uncle)

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In our first reading today, God calls Cyrus through the prophet Isaiah. Cyrus isn't even an Israelite. He's a Persian king and God is going to use him to free the Israelite people. Cyrus has defeated the Babylonians, who had taken the Israelites into exile. After his victory, Cyrus allowed the Israelites to return home. What the Israelites had longed for, God accomplished through a pagan ruler. It started me thinking about the many times God has used a Cyrus in my life - how has God helped me through the most unlikely people? Perhaps the most memorable of these is the very reason we're living here in North Minneapolis. Thirteen years ago, Nancy and I had agreed to lead high school students from our parish in Forest Lake on a mission trip to Morth Minneapolis. Our plan was to expose these teens to people who live a different life than theirs in the inner city - perhaps even change their hearts.

What we didn't plan on was that the people of North Minneapolis might change our hearts. After working with children and parents struggling to make a family life. After celebrating with them at Loaves and Fishes every evening. After listening to story after story of their lives. After living with the people of the Northdise for a week, Nancy and I went back to our home in Forest Lake, looked at each other and said, "Are we supposed to serve there? Are we supposed to sell our home and move there?" A year later, that's what we did.

In the years since, God has used hundreds of North Side Cyruses to help us. Single moms and dads, drunks and addicts, homeless men and women, families of homicide victims, lonely children, and so many others have opened our hearts and mids to God's providential care and love. How unlikely is that?

So, how many times has a person of another religion, or even an unbeliever, or someone of another social class, or even someone you dislike been a Cyrus to you? Have they said of done something that brought you to your senses? Have they helped you as you worked through a problem? Has a Cyrus made you aware of a social need....or set you free? As unlikely as it seems, God has called many a Cyrus to help you and me.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us today that we can't fit God into the box of our expectations of who God is and how God acts. Recognizing this, we need to ask...Am I open to the unlikely ways and the unlikely people that God chooses to use in my life?

- Deacon Dale