15 Sun OT - Yr B - 2018
Ss. Peter & Paul, Danville
There I was…minding my own business. I was a software developer and a business consultant. But Jesus tapped me on the shoulder…told me to go and announce the Gospel of the Lord. That’s how it happened, really. I was driving home from work on Friday afternoon – a beautiful Friday afternoon, on my way to a hot date. I was drinking all the pleasure and success this life had to offer and enjoying every minute of it! Windows down, sunroof open, good music a little too loud on the radio. Stopped at a red light, all of a sudden I said out loud over the music, “I should go be a monk like Thomas Merton.” That was the spring of 2003. Here we are 15 years later. What an Adventure!!
I get what Amos was saying. ‘Look here – cut me some slack! I wasn’t a prophet. I was minding my own business – I was a shepherd and a forester when God grabbed hold of me and told me to go and spread the news that God loves them and wants to call them back to Him.’ That story is repeated over and over again in the human history all over the world and since the beginning of time.
Moses. Abraham. Ruth. Peter & Andrew. James & John. Mary Magdalen. Matthew. Mother Theresa. John Paul II. Fr. Alan.
Every great story in Sacred Scripture either begins or ends with God sending someone to go tell other people the Good News that He loves them. Every story with God involves two pieces at some point. The first is God getting our attention, helping us turn to find and encounter Him – and the second is God sending us to share the Good News that He loves us with others. That’s the Great Adventure of the Christian life…and until we’re living life that way, we’ll be missing something. We’ll be somehow unfulfilled. Our relationship with God will be somehow incomplete. The glimmer of Adventure will be missing from our step, from our smile, from our lives.
And you know what’s most amazing? God sends us with what we already have! What a strange plan this is! Jesus sent his disciples with nothing more than what they already had. 'Don't go home first, don't pack extras just in case, and don’t use the need to stockpile supplies or get stronger in your faith, or learn how to share the story with others as an excuse or a delay. All you need is what you’ve got right now - I’ll provide whatever else you need.'
That sounds like a tall order, doesn't it? But here's the irony: being willing to go with only what you already have is as easy as taking the first step. It requires no preparation, no planning, and no delay. And it eliminates - completely eradicates - all the excuses that keep us locked in indecision and sometimes leaves us never starting out in the first place.
How many times have you felt the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in your heart to step out in faith and witness to the Gospel, but said to yourself, ‘I’ll do that one day…once I’ve had a chance to learn more about my faith.’ How often have we said, ‘I really want to get involved in this ministry of the Church, and I will…once I have more time, or money, or confidence, or…’ - well… you can fill in the blank.
If we pay careful attention to today’s Gospel, we see that Jesus sent them with what they already had right there with them – because what they already had was enough: they knew Jesus, and they had one another. That’s all it takes. And you know what friends, you and I already have that, too. We know Jesus, and we’ve got one another. That means we’re fully stocked and ready to go…
Some of you God is asking to pack just enough to last a semester and head off to seminary – some of you God is calling to the priesthood – some of you God is calling to religious life, taking even less than the seminarians with you. I pray every day that you’ll find the courage to say yes to that call.
But God doesn’t only call priests and religious. God calls us to spread the Gospel to Northpoint Prison, and to share His love in the nursing homes. He calls us to spread the Good News to our neighbors. God calls us to love, and serve, and carry the good news all around us. Us – not me alone – us. The spread of the Gospel and the salvation of souls is our mission and ministry, not mine. All those things some of you think I should be doing could be God nudging you to see that you should be doing. Mission and ministry is not reserved for the priest; in fact, in the mind of the Church, my job is to prepare you and send you just like I do at the end of every Mass. What are you doing for the spread of the Gospel and the salvation of souls? Where are you going – who are you bringing the love of Jesus to?
You see, God doesn’t only call priests and religious. He calls doctors and lawyers and teachers and electricians and accountants and engineers and stay-home moms & dads and business owners and retirees and you-name-its!
In St. Matthew’s version of the Gospel story we heard today, Jesus sees the world around Him and His Sacred Heart is filled with compassion for the tiredness of the world – the tiredness, loneliness, hunger & thirst, hopelessness and despair. He looks around, and His Sacred Heart is filled with compassion because the world around Him was like sheep without a Shepherd. And you know what He did? Jesus sent his disciples to the world in need with no delay – and He does the same thing today. He sends us, if we’ll go…
Friends…have you seen the world around us? Have you watched the videos on Facebook or seen the reports on the evening news? Have you looked – really looked – at the tiredness, loneliness, hunger & thirst, hopelessness and despair in the world around us today – in our neighborhoods and schools and service agencies today? It’ll break your heart! It’ll take your breath away. And you know what Jesus does when He sees it? The same thing He did two thousand years ago: He sends us our from this place to the world in need. “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!” That sound familiar?
You have all it takes to be sent if you’ll go: you know Jesus and you’ve got this community of faith. You have all it takes…if you’ll go.
Will you go?
Where will you go this week to bring the light and love of Jesus to the world around you?
Where will you go?