Once upon a time, there was a priest leading Vacation Bible School in his parish. He announced to the children that they were going to play a game called, “Giants, Wizards, and Knights.” He began to choose each of the teams of “Giants, Wizards, and Knights” and put them in their various locations when a first-grader approached him and asked where the Mermaids should go. Father was a little surprised and said, “The game, sweetheart, is “Giants, Wizards, and Knights, there are no Mermaids.” She said, “But where do the Mermaids go?” He repeated the name of the game and she said, “But I’m a Mermaid! Where do I go?” Father relented and said to her, “The Mermaids can stay right here, beside me!”
When the long-awaited Messiah came, many of our ancestors, especially their leaders, had expectations about how and when He would arrive. They thought they knew (better than God?) how they would recognize Him. He came, however, in a way more beautiful than they had expected and beyond their pre-conceived “categories.” Because of this, many were unable to either recognize Him or believe in Him.
As a Church, let’s always make room for God’s surprises and the unexpected ways He breaks through in our lives … and let’s also make room for the Mermaids. God delights in all of us, He admires us, He values us, and He cares for us. Is there a better lesson for us to learn this Lent?