We offer Social Media marketing services to Apostolates through my company, Exposure Strategies. We always provide it below our cost, and we only work with Apostolates. Sometimes we do it for free. In fact most of the time, actually, we do it for free.
I get frustrated when people do not accept what I offer, especially when I offer it at no cost. It causes me to wonder things that I shouldn’t be wondering – primarily “What’s wrong with me?”
Obviously nothing is wrong with the price…it’s free! Something must be wrong with me. In my own community, I suppose that’s a fair assessment. Even Jesus never preached in Nazareth to no avail, as we know from Luke, Chapter 4:
14 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. 16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
23 And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’” 24 And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. 25 But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, He went His way.
I always think of some boyhood neighbor of Jesus’ sitting in the synagogue saying to the guy beside him, “This is supposed to be the Messiah? Hah, I remember when he knocked over my feeding trough and spilled my goat milk bucket when he ran through my yard. Messiah? Right. Sure. And I’m Julius Caesar reborn.”
So I recognize that, because we all have baggage and warts, that a prophet or anybody who is an expert is not really considered such in his own hometown. I see it all the time with apostolates and people we work with and represent: They just don’t have credibility in their own hometown, even their own parishes. My friend and client Doug Barry with RadixGuys and Life On The Rock does phenomenal one-man shows about the Passion of Christ all over the United States – except in his hometown. Save for a few talks he gave decades ago, he’s never preached in his own hometown.
So I get it.
But I’m supposed to be telling you about The Cavecrab Corollary, which does apply here. So here goes…
In 2001 I went on a CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) retreat. One of the men who sat at my table was a young man two years my junior whom I had known for a few years. His name was Zac Barcevac. I saw Zac over the years leading up to this retreat slowly succumb to the debilitating, terminal effects of Cystic Fibrosis. Zac had always been filled with love for Jesus, and was wise beyond his years. If The LORD’s only requirement for taking us Home were wisdom, Zac went right on time…and I will live to be older than Methuselah
Zac had a presentation at the retreat my team was putting on. He stepped up to the podium with his oxygen tank, and began to speak. He spoke of pride, ego, and what a man does before ever thinking of asking for help…or even thinking of thinking he might need help. He spoke of his disease and how it had brought him closer to The LORD, and he spoke of Simon of Cyrene and how Jesus had allowed Simon to help Him, though He did not need the help since at any moment He could have made the load lighter.
And then Zac looked at all of us men and said that he had learned through his disease that he could only get close to Jesus by allowing others to do things for him – things he could not do himself, or as well himself. And he said that he was in prayer at one point, arguing with Jesus about all these people who wanted to help him and why he wasn’t letting them, and Jesus told Zac, “If you do not let people I have sent help you, then you are denying Me, My Will, and standing in the way of those who want to serve their Lord. You are doing the work of the Devil.”
And at that moment, Zac remembered Matthew 25:
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’
45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Zac knew that the people who were offering to help would not receive condemnation from the Lord, because they were ready, willing, and able to help. But he suddenly realized that something positive wouldn’t come to bear for the person who stood in the way of others helping. Those people were serving The LORD by helping Zac…and he was in their way!
So Zac determined to let people help him. And in this gracious way, Zac showed us, as he loved [that’s not a typo] out the last year of his life suffering dearly, that his suffering provided a way for others to serve The LORD and, in that way, Zac served The LORD.
So, when we offer to help others with our skills, talents, resources and treasure, we cannot force them to accept our help. Though we may be called to offer help, they may not hear the call to accept it. Or they may not be called to accept it.
Or they may simply remember when we knocked over their flowers and kicked over the bucket of goat’s milk.
But the Cavecrab Corollary reminds me to always offer the help and feel no fear or shame, guilt or self-doubt in offering it. Because it is not my responsibility to force someone to accept it. It is their responsibility to freely receive it.
And that’s how I know, at least after the initial doubt or frustration, that nothing is wrong with me when someone says no or doesn’t even answer our offer. There’s probably nothing wrong with them, either. But there is a reason for the exchange, however brief or believable, and though I don’t know the reason…Jesus, I Trust In You.
Oh…why ‘The Cavecrab Corollary”? Well, Zac loved to point out that his last name, Barcevac, is actually Cavecrab spelled backwards.