Without intending to, I have become a user and a fan of the ride-sharing service Uber. It gets me where I need to go, when I need to be there. And it’s also taught me something about faith.
As many of you know, Uber is an alternative transportation service, using drivers who hire out their personal cars and their time to take riders from one place to another, from one neighborhood to another.
To apply, a prospective rider logs on to the Uber app, fills in his or her name, some other personal information and a credit card number. When approved, the credit card allows the rider to automatically enjoy Uber service without the exchange of money. It’s an easy exchange of service rendered and service received.
It allows me to spend time with kind and caring strangers, and we often speak about God and their faith. They’re usually the ones who bring it up — usually because they’re surprised to be giving the bishop a ride. Some are very excited and tell me about their church or how God has changed their life. Some rather sheepishly tell me they haven’t been to church in years, and we talk about the reasons why.
Either way, it gives me a chance to reciprocate, to do something in return for these ladies and gents who help me. Hopefully, through something I say or just my presence as a shepherd of the faith, I can help them get to their ultimate destination as well.
So I have become an avid Uber fan. But I must confess, it was not by choice but by necessity.
The week before Christmas, I lost all feeling in my right foot. Many of you know that I suffer from debilitating issues with my back. The doctors have recommended that I have surgery to correct it. But in the meantime, I have stopped driving. And I love to drive. Like all teenagers who get their license, I enjoyed the freedom that driving offered. But over the years, and especially since becoming bishop, I have relished driving even more. I cherish time alone, and use it to pray, to reflect on homilies and talks, or just to be alone with myself and God.
This problem with my foot forced me to renounce this pleasure that I have treasured since I turned 17. I surrendered it for the safety of others and myself.
Quite often, some members of my staff kindly drive me to my appointments. But with my schedule as busy as it is, they can’t always be available.
So along comes Uber, serving both as an angel of mercy and an angel with a message. The message? Learning how better to surrender.
As we continue to bask in the glory that is Easter, we recall that the way WE got to Easter is by way of what Jesus himself did to get to Easter. By surrendering — his will, his mother, his apostles, his life — to the will of his Father.
And the Father’s will? That we all might get to heaven.
That’s why surrender is so important and necessary for us as followers of Jesus. Every one of us learns in life that we inevitably have to let go — of childhood, of loved ones, of things, of good health and eventually of life itself. None of this “letting go” is ever easy. But what makes surrender a JOY is to let go in the WAY Jesus did and for the reasons WHY Jesus did. Out of love for others. To help each other get to heaven.
Bummer or blessing
Back in grade school, whenever the sisters taught me to “offer it up,” they knew what they were talking about. They were trying to teach me truly to become more like Jesus. They were helping me to become more an Easter person — someone who surrenders out of love for others, who surrenders to help others get to heaven.
It is our faith as Easter people to learn that lesson. For me, who so much loves to drive, it is a bummer to let go. But as a follower of Jesus, ever eager to become more like him, it is becoming a blessing to let go as Jesus did so and for WHY Jesus did so — out of love for others, out of a desire to help others get into heaven.
So what about you? What is there in your life that you must surrender? And how much is it a bummer? Perhaps your child is graduating and leaving home. Maybe you have lost your job or you are facing a serious health issue. Perhaps you dread a change in your parish as part of On Mission for The Church Alive!
The Easter season can be the time to let God change that bummer into a blessing. To do this, he sometimes sends us the help of an angel, a messenger from God.
As you note, I titled this article “Uber Est!” “Uber” is a Latin word for “fruitful,” and “est” means “is.” My time with Uber is fruitful. So Uber Est is what I’ve named the angel God has sent me to help me surrender.
Where’s your angel? God is sending you one, too, to help you surrender.