Friday, August 28, 2015

You Always Have a Home Here

21 Sun OT Yr B/2015
(Holy Spirit Parish/UK Newman Center)

          “…to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
                   In families, sometimes it is financial trouble, relationship trouble.  Sometimes it’s the smallest of things – toothpaste tubes and toilet seats.  In relationships it might be dishonesty, infidelity, not receiving enough attention from your beloved.  Sometimes the beginning of the academic year brings its own set of frustrations that threaten to push us over the edge.  New roommates who don’t seem to have an adequate sense of cleanliness or personal space.  That stupid shelf that just won’t seem to put itself together the right way.  8am classes.  (The closest class I ever came to failing in college was because it met at 8am…)  The new year brings the challenge of meeting new people – some of us here would rather rip out our fingernails than have to try to make new friends.  Finding your way around campus – finding a parking space – finding the right coffee shop.  Sometimes it can all just seem to be too much and sooner than we thought, we’re ready to throw in the towel.
          We’re not exempt from that feeling or experience in the Church are we?  That new parochial vicar – what’s his name?  Who does he think he is?  He prays Mass in a way I don’t like.  And his homilies – dear Lord save us!  Maybe it’s the Church herself.  If have to hear someone talk about the Church’s stance on (fill in the blank) one more time, that’s it!  I’m hitting the road.  I just can’t stomach it anymore!
          Truth is, friends, whatever has brought us here today, we all share two things in common, whether we realize it or not.  First, we’re all searching for something – someone, actually – whether we know it or not – like that great children’s book called The Missing Piece, we’re all rolling around the world, living this thing called life, searching for that God shaped hole in all of us.  We’re here either because we’re still looking – or because we’ve found that missing piece in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Eucharist.  We’re all searching for something – and – even when we’ve found it, the second thing we have in common is that sometimes it all gets to be too much and we want to just give up.  The Church’s teachings become too demanding, or life becomes more demanding than we feel like tackling – moving to a new place, meeting new friends, handling the demands of busy academic, business, ministry or family life.
          We’re all searching for something – and sometimes we all get fed up and want to throw in the towel.  You might not admit it out loud – but we all know it to be true.  The good news is…we’re not alone.  It’s been that way from the very beginning – and it’s that way today.  Look around you – and you’ll see the faces of brothers and sisters who are looking for something and who sometimes get completely fed up.  Look at the Gospel today and you’ll see it, too: 
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
          But – you see friends – that’s never the end of our story, is it?  We search, sometimes we struggle…sometimes we feel like giving up.  But if you’re here today, you’re here because you realize what Peter had to say was true:  Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
          Friends – this is the place where we encounter Jesus – this is the place where we find our missing piece – this is the place where we come to throw up our hands in loving surrender to God – and rather than giving up, we are refreshed in our commitment to the Lord:  where else can we go, Lord?  You have the words of eternal life?  You’re my missing piece!  In this place, in this community, with these folks – this is where I find you, where I hear you, where you support and love and encourage and strengthen me!
          I want to speak just a moment to our student parishioners.  If you’re a UK student I’d like to ask you to stand up.  It doesn’t matter if you’re new or not.  Stand up just for a second.
          My dear brothers and sisters – what an adventure you’re on!  New friends.  New things to learn.  New experiences.  Becoming the man or woman God called you to be.  Sometimes that is life-giving and amazing…sometimes it’s a struggle.  Sometimes it all seems too much – too hard to accept – too much trouble.  Sometimes you just want to go and travel another path.  But I want you to know – here in this place, among these people, in this community of faith, you are always welcome, and you always can and always will encounter Jesus Christ who loves you, and accepts you, and calls you, and cares for you – and for all your days, you have a home in this place and with these people.  God loves you, the Church loves you, these parishioners love you, our staff loves you, Fr. Steve and I love you…

          …and when the journey seems long, and the struggle seems all too much – just remember what St. Peter had to say and think of this place:  Where else can we go…  Wherever you find yourself – you can always come here – here you’ll find the words of eternal life.

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