Sunday, December 10, 2017

When We Grow Frustrated...God Remains Patient

Advent 2 Sun Yr B (2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville

I’m tired of all this construction!  I wish we could just be finished already, don’t you?  I’m tired of waiting!  It seems every two steps forward lead to a step back.  There was the rotting pane around that beautiful stained glass window that had to be fixed.  The blue we originally picked for the ceiling looked like a child’s playroom and had to be adjusted to remind us of the heavens that gaze down on our worship.  We found two rotten floor joists in the original Church floor that had to be repaired.  After months of tearing everything down on Sunday just to put it back together on Friday and do it over and over and over again I’m sick and tired of all this construction – I’ve lost all my patience!

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Advent…Advent is a bad time to lose one’s patience.  It’s a bad time to lose our patience with anything…because…well, because truth be told, most of us are losing patience with ourselves.  We’re trying to get ready because Jesus is coming.  But…what if we miss the boat?  The highways of our lives aren’t all straightened out yet – there are patterns of sin – things we consistently do or consistently fail to do – that haven’t been straightened out yet.  There are valleys of our lives that haven’t been filled with God’s grace yet – shame and regret and feelings of inadequacy, worry that we’re not good enough, strong enough, courageous enough – that we’re not enough – places in our hearts where God’s grace hasn’t yet been able to fill our valleys. 

And mountains – there are mountains in our lives that have not yet been leveled – things and ways of being that block us from God’s love and His saving grace.  Pride and faulty priorities that keep us from the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  (Friends – why are we still pretending that we don’t need to go to Confession?  Why? We must overcome this sinful misunderstanding and come running to God’s love and mercy in the confessional!)  Pride and faulty priorities that keep us from loving God as we should and loving our neighbors as we should – a self-centered narcissism that prizes my way, my preference, my sense of right and wrong over hearing and heeding God’s way, God’s plan, God’s law designed to set us free and give us life most abundantly now and in the world to come.

Advent is a horrible time to lose our patience…because when we get frustrated with the tree, or the lights, or the wrapping paper – when we lose our patience with our spouse or our children or our pastor – when we lose our patience in Advent on some level we realize we’re losing our patience with ourselves…and we wonder and worry whether God is losing His patience with us.  We’re trying to pay attention, trying not to miss the boat – we’re trying to get ready because Jesus is coming.  We hear the voice crying out in the wilderness Prepare the Way of the Lord! and we wonder somewhere deep inside if we’ll ever straighten out the highways of our lives, if we’ll ever get the valleys of our insufficiency filled in, if the mountains of our pride and faulty priorities will ever be lowered to welcome God …we lose our patience and sometimes we become afraid that we’ll never be ready – afraid that God will lose his patience with us. 

But…God is patient. 

God is faithful and patient – He preserves and strengthens us for His coming!  Say it with me:  God is faithful and patient – He preserves and strengthens us for His coming. 

What a guy!  What a God!  How amazing and loving and generous!  God doesn’t simply sit on high with some sort of heavenly stopwatch waiting for time to run out like some sort of video game eager to catch us short of the finish line and flash “GAME OVER” on our lives. No…our God is a God of love and tenderness and compassion!  And He is a God of patience.  Where we are frustrated, God is patient.  When we are fickle, God is faithful, and when we are frustrated God is patient.  God is faithful and patient – He preserves and strengthens us for His coming.

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Imagine if we hadn’t been patient with our construction.  We’d have a toybox ceiling, a stained glass window about to fall down on top of us and a floor about to cave in on us at Mass.  Doesn’t patience always guide us closer to perfection? If we rush to help someone trying to figure something out – supplying the answer, doing the task for them – doesn’t it deprive them of important learning and skill development?  How many times have we given up on an exercise routine because it didn’t produce results fast enough?  Except when you think about it, patience with ourselves, patience and faithfulness are themselves the key ingredients to getting healthier…and in the spiritual life, too.

When we are fickle, God is faithful – and when we grow frustrated, God is patient.  God is patient…  He doesn’t delaying His coming – He doesn’t delay pouring out His saving grace on us, He isn’t “late” in helping us grow in holiness.  No…God is patient.  Jesus is patient with us, not wanting to lose any of us.  If we can be faithful to His faithfulness – if we’re trying, if we just keep swimming, God is patient…waiting for us, that we might be saved at His coming.

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years…[He] does not delay His promise…but He is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Friends – we have to be about the business of getting ready – but we can be patient with ourselves when we falter, because God is patient with us.  He is faithful and patient, because He loves us, He wants us to be ready.  His patience isn’t an excuse to be lazy…He’s patient with our effort not with our apathy.  If we reject His faithfulness and His patience by being lazy or apathetic, His coming will catch us off guard, like a thief breaking through with a mighty roar; we’ll be consumed by holy fire and cast aside. Apathy and indifference to His love and mercy will earn us damnation – we’ll miss the boat and be swallowed in the flood of eternal exile from the warmth of His love and mercy.  God has no time for our apathy and indifference in ignoring the Confessional, hoarding our time and talent to serve ourselves and our families while others go without, living our faith at the margins of our life – He has no time for apathy or indifference, but with our effort God is patient.  He is patient – so that we can move closer to perfection and grow ready to greet Him when He comes. 

God is faithful and patient – He preserves and strengthens us for His coming.  What will you do with His faithfulness and patience?  He’s there – every step of the way He’s there – He’s here with us – faithfully and patiently with us.  And He’s coming…

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Fickle and Faithful...And Getting Ready for Christmas

1 Sun Advent Yr B (2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul, Danville

It’s Advent again, friends.  That time of year where we prepare for the coming – the Advent – of our Lord, Jesus Christ – God-with-Us – Emmanuel.  And it’s a busy Advent for all of us.  There’s drywall stacked along the back wall and Caution Tape and drywall dust all over the. There are gifts to be bought, cards to send, lights to be hung. If we’re not careful we’ll forget to get ready for Christmas:  make our confession, find some quiet moments to pray, and draw closer to Jesus who gives it all to come closer to us.
Last year…last year in Advent we focused on what we need to do to get ready for Jesus. That’s important work – it’s important to not lose ourselves and our life and our faith in all the hustle and bustle of work and school and ministry and lights and trees and cards.  It’s important work all year round – but especially at this time of year.  Because if we lose ourselves and our faith, we’ll miss Him, and this life and the life to come become emptiness and death.

Last year in Advent we focused on what we need to do to get ready for Jesus to come.  Do you remember?  Say it with me:  If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boat.  So get ready, because Jesus is coming.  But don’t be afraid…He’s already here.  Paying attention, getting ready, without fear – that’s important work this year, every year, especially during Advent as we prepare to welcome Jesus…

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But…why?  Why get ready?  Why should we care? Why…and how?  Assuming we’d want to – assuming there’s some good reason to get ready beyond “we’re supposed to,” , how do we do it?  Last year we focused on what we need to do to get ready for Jesus…but this year – this year we’re going to focus on what God is doing.  What we need to do is important…but we’re not big enough, we’re not powerful enough to do what most needs to be done.  And more importantly, we’ll never find a good enough reason to even want to get ready until we take a look at what God is, has, and will continue to do.  

If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boat.  So get ready, because Jesus is coming.  But don’t be afraid…  But why?  Why and how?  By noticing what God is up to in all of this!  God is faithful and patient – He preserves and strengthens us for His coming!  

Say it with me:  God is faithful and patient – He preserves and strengthens us for His coming.  What a guy!  What a God!  How amazing and loving and generous!  God doesn’t simply sit on high and demand that we scramble around serving Him for fear He’ll zap us into eternal torment and emptiness if we don’t do what He wants when He wants and how He wants.  No…our God is a God of love, and tenderness and compassion!  When we finally come to see and experience in our own lives how amazing is His grace, how loving is His gaze, and how complete is His love…when we contemplate who God is and how He loves us in Jesus Christ, when we do that, we find both why and how to get ready for Christmas.  Say it with me:  God is faithful and patient – He preserves and strengthens us for His coming.

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God is faithful…but what does that mean? “Having or showing true and constant support and loyalty.”  The way that Dcn. Jere and Carla & Ambrose and Ritchey love and serve and care for the men at Northpoint Prison – faithful.  “Deserving trust and keeping one’s promises.”  The way so many of you are staying faithful to your capital campaign pledges.  The way you work hard to remain faithful to the vows you made on your wedding day.  Miriam-Webster defines faithful as steadfast in allegiance or affection – firm in adherence to a promise.  Jesus comes to us because God is faithful.  God is faithful…He keeps His promises.

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I love Eucharistic Prayer IV…because it tells us of God’s faithfulness.  “And when through disobedience [we] had lost your friendship, you did not abandon [us] to the domain of death.  For you came in mercy to the aid of all, so that those who seek might find you.  Time and again you offered the covenants and through the prophets taught them to look forward to salvation.  And you so loved the world, Father most holy, that in the fullness of time you sent your Only Begotten Son to be our Savior.  Made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, he shared our human nature in all things but sin.”  Faithful.  Faithful!  Even when we aren’t – even when we give up on God, He doesn’t give up on us.  Even when we break our part of the bargain, fail to love Him as we should – even when we are fickle God is faithful.

“For when the hour had come for him to be glorified by your, Father most holy, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the very end…”  Faithful.  Even when Jesus’ closest friends had betrayed him and left him alone in his most painful moments, even when we forget or abandon Him, Jesus is faithful.

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Since the beginning of time, since women and men first walked this Earth, we’ve been messing it up.  We’re weak.  We’re subject to temptation.  We know the right thing, and sometimes don’t do it because we’re too weak, or because we don’t want to, would rather do our own thing our own way…  But God is faithful.  He promised Adam & Eve and the whole human family through all time and space that He’d make a way for us to be loved by Him in His presence forever!  We sometimes mess that up.  He promised Abraham that there would be a family of nations united in their love of God for all time…and we sometimes fail to live up to our part of the bargain, failing in our obligations and leaving untapped the riches and blessings and goodness of life lived in relationship with him.  But God is faithful and just, and if we confess our sins he forgives us from all unrighteousness.  Jesus came as God among us because He is faithful to His promise!  He gave up the glory of heaven, and then gave up the joy even of this life here below, to make a way for us to be with Him forever …because He is faithful!  

He promised Peter that He would leave us a family of faith, the Church, a place where we would always be welcome, a place where our fickleness could find remedy in his faithfulness, a community – a family – where we could walk together toward our heavenly homeland, where we could be encouraged by one another and strive to live life according to God’s plan instead of our own, a community and a place where we could be made holy – literally made holy by the grace of the sacraments.  And what do we do?  We tear the Church down with our debates.  We leave the sacraments ignored, especially the sacrament of confession.  We try to make the Church into our image, based on our worldly thinking, trying to make it permissive to our desires and our pleasure – turning it into nothing more than a social club for civic good to ease our troubled conscience.  And what does Jesus do?  He is faithful.  He comes.  He comes here when we gather.  He appears to the eyes of our frail faith at the hands of this sinful priest – He comes to us, He waits for us in the tabernacle, He lives and moves and breathes in and among us and calls us to Himself over and over and over again…because He is faithful!  God loves us – Jesus comes to us – because He is faithful!  God is faithful.

Brothers and sisters…I give thanks to my God always…for the grace of God bestows on us in Christ Jesus, that in him we are enriched in every way, …so that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift as we wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, and by we are called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


We can’t do it – we can’t accomplish it.  Paying attention, getting ready – we can’t do it on our own.  But Jesus is faithful.  Our God is faithful!  Praise God, He is faithful.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It's the End of the World as We Know It...

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King (Yr A - 2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville

It's the end of the world as we know it... it’s the end of the world as we know it... it’s the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine!  Do you remember that song from the 80s?  I remember listening to it on the way to my high school graduation – it was an “old song” by then.  We all knew it by heart.  As my best friend and I drove through Lexington toward Rupp Arena for graduation we were high on life - high on the excitement of concluding what was then the biggest chapter in our lives, and ready to launch into the great adventure of what was to come.  

Dressed in our caps and gowns, I remember lining up with friends that I had grown up with - most of them since first grade.  We'd shared the crazy and amazing journey through elementary, middle and high school.  We'd laughed together, and cried together - we'd shared the world stopping moments of our time:  the Challenger explosion, assassination attempts on President Reagan and Pope John Paul II, the falling of the Berlin Wall.  We'd learned how to get along with one another (for the most part) - and how to love one another (for the most part).  We knew how to be successful in the world we were leaving behind…but that was all coming to an end…

I remember finally finding a place to park – when he turned off the car I said, 'I guess this really is the end of the world as we know it.  How fitting...'  There we were...between what has been and what will be...excited, eager, nostalgic; ready and scared, sad and happy, sure of who we were, excited but apprehensive of who we would become.  It’s the end of the world as we know it...it’s the end of the world as we know it...it’s the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine.

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The solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – our celebration today – commemorates the end of the world as we know it.  For the most part, we’ve forgotten what it means to say that something is the end of something.  We think only in terms of concluding, ceasing, stopping.  But any real end is primarily a finishing, a culmination, a completion, a fulfillment, a “toward which,” an arrival at the intended purpose or development according to the plan from the very start.  The end of going to the gym is becoming healthier.  The end of planting a seed is ripe fruit.  And the end of all time – the purpose and plan of all of creation – is the kingdom of God established by Christ the King.

This last Sunday of the Church year celebrates the end of all of time – because the purpose of all of time, the purpose of all of creation, the purpose even of our Lord’s life, death and resurrection is the completion of what God the Father began in the garden before the fall:  intimate relationship with the Father for you and me into all eternity.  This week, we celebrate the reality that all this has already been accomplished.  Why, then, does the world seem so different?  

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The world it seems we live in thinks we’re foolish because we believe in a freedom they simply cannot understand.  To that world, freedom is the absence of any restraint at all – whatever seems to feel good, whatever seems to be advantageous or whatever seems most comfortable or most agreeable to the majority must be right.  In the world we seem to live in, whatever seems to bring pleasure and the absence of conflict or discomfort is freedom.  In that world, accepting guidance and direction about things as trivial as how we offer the Sign of Peace at Mass is as irrelevant as accepting guidance and direction about things as significant as whether we can exercise power over the life and death of the innocent unborn, the despairing ill, and the immigrant and refugee.  

In the world it seems we live in, freedom means I get to decide what’s right for me and you get to decide what’s right for you, and together we get to debate and decide what is right for us – all the while ignoring any rule or guidance from those crazy old men in funny hats who have nothing better to do than sit around Rome and dream up ways to limit our freedom.  Because in the world it seems we live in, freedom means the absence of any restraint on our own desire, preference or will.  To that world, slavery to personal preference and individual notions of right and wrong is the only freedom that matters. 

But Christ the King is the end of the world as we know it!!  He shows us that the proper use of our will is to place it at the service of something higher than ourselves – his preference was that the cup be passed from Him, but He was free enough to accept the will of another and in doing so used every bit of His will to serve and save others.  That’s freedom in the kingdom of Christ the King.

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The world we seem to live in is about power - but it’s the end of the world as we know it.  Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, tells us that power of any kind is to be used for the good of others, and especially those who don’t have any.  Feed the hungry.  Clothe the naked.  Visit the prisoner.  Welcome the stranger.  Tend the sick.  This is what kingship is about – using our power for the good of another. How are you using your power in this world – in this parish?  To tend to yourself and your desires and preferences, or tending to the good of another?

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The world we seem to live in is very different than the kingdom of Our Lord, Jesus Christ the King of the Universe.  But if our faith is to mean anything, brothers & sisters, if our faith is anything other than a footnote on the resume of our life, then you and I have to live in the end of time toward which everything is tending.  That means you and I have to leave behind the world it seems we live in and instead live in the Kingdom of Christ the King – right here and right now.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it – and that means we have to live life understanding that binding our will to Christ and the Church sets us free from slavery to whims of personal preference and comfort.  It means we have to live life using our power and influence for the good of others, not for personal advantage or comfort.  The question for us today is: are we living in the kingdom of this world, or are we living in the kingdom of Christ the King.  

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Here we are today, brothers and sisters.  Standing in the world that has been – stepping into the end of the world – the completion of all that ever has been - the joy, freedom, light, and eternity of the Kingdom established by our Lord, Jesus Christ the King.  It’s the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine.


I feel fine…how about you?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Knock Knock...I Don't Even Know Who You Are!

32nd Sun OT Yr A (2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville

Knock knock… [Who’s there?]… Cows go.  [Cows go who?] Scrambled eggs.

I love a good joke, don’t you?  A good joke; a good story – they’re my favorite things to share with friends.  But every once in a while, you come across a joke or story where the punch line just doesn’t make any sense – and that stinks!  It’s like running into a brick wall…like fingernails on a chalkboard…

Knock knock… [Who’s there?]… Etch… [Etch who?] Midnight cowboys!

You don’t know whether to laugh or groan.  You look around to see if anyone else “got it”.  Maybe I just missed it? 

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You and I – our parish – we’re like a group of folks who got together to celebrate a big wedding.  Some of us were foolish – we didn’t bring enough batteries for our flashlights; some of us were wise – we brought lots of extra batteries.  So…we get tired of waiting for the party to start and fall asleep.  Suddenly we hear the party getting started and wake up to realize we’d left our flashlights on and let the batteries run down.  Those of us who were wise just change our batteries and get ready to head out – we brought plenty of extra.  But those of us who are foolish are stuck…our flashlights are all out of juice.  We do the typical thing, right?  “Can we have some of your batteries?”  Nope…this is going to be an awesome party! We might not have enough batteries to last all night…sorry Charlie.  Go to WalMart and buy your own batteries.  

So…off we go.  But the WalMart is closed!  While we’re gone, the wise folks head off to the party…and they lock the door!  So, we bang on the door…and it opens a crack.  “Can we come in? We couldn’t get any batteries…but we tried.”  Pshaaa…I don’t even know who you are!  You shoulda’ stayed awake!

Wait…what?  Stayed awake?  What’s that got to do with anything?

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In all the times I’ve read and prayed with this parable, I always find myself dismissing the end of the story because it doesn’t make any sense.  And surely Jesus didn’t tell a bad story.  There are wise folks and foolish folks; the wise ones get in and the foolish ones don’t.  Jesus is mad at the foolish ones – they don’t get into the party…but even worse, He acts like He doesn’t even know them!  Wow.  I don’t want that to happen to me… I better make sure I’m walking around with enough oil for my lamp, whatever that means.  

Probably virtue – I better be walking around with enough virtue when it’s time for the party to start.  Virtue like sharing with others…  But…wait a minute!  The “so-called” wise folks didn’t share!  That can’t be it.  Hmmm…  Over and over again, I’ve tried to figure out what the oil for these lamps needs to be…  Obviously we have to bring it with us to the big party…there’s no place to go get any if we run out, and others either won’t or can’t share it with us if we’re left empty handed.  What could it be?

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That’s usually as far as I get.  I need some oil.  I need lots of oil.  I don’t want to get left out of the party.  I really don’t want Jesus to say He doesn’t even know who I am and leave me locked out of the party.  I don’t know what that means – but I definitely want to be inside the party – I absolutely want Jesus to know me!  Where did the wise virgins get their oil?  Do I already have enough, and just have to remember to bring it?  If I ever figure out what the oil is, I’ll share it with anyone who doesn’t have enough.  Surely that’s important… Except… The “wise virgins” didn’t share…and they still got in.  That doesn’t make sense.  

Somehow, I always end up scratching my head thinking about what the oil is and where I can get it and whether or not I have enough  I get obsessed about the oil – certain that being wise means having oil and being foolish means not having it…  And I go back and read the whole think and wonder what in the WORLD Jesus is talking about.  Because…here I am thinking about oil…and there He is talking about knowing Him and staying awake.  

Knock knock. [Who’s there?] Foolish virgins without oil.  [Foolish virgins without oil who?]  I don’t know who you are – therefore stay awake!

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But then I start thinking about it…and I realize…even the wise ones… If I start to wonder about staying awake and how that all fits together, I realize even the wise virgins didn’t stay awake.  Jesus says Therefore, get WOKE!  But…the ones who get into the party didn’t “stay woke” – did they?  What in the world?

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But what’s left?  Wise and foolish don’t seem to be about oil… Maybe the wise Virgins “just happen” to have enough oil.  Jesus doesn’t seem concerned about oil…the Master in the story never mentions it.  The punch line doesn’t fit.  “Therefore stay awake!”  He doesn’t say, “Therefore be wise and make sure you’ve got enough oil…”  Therefore…stay awake!  OK…but Jesus, the ones you let into the party didn’t stay awake…  What did they do?  Or…what didn’t they do?

What if this isn’t a story about oil at all?  What if this isn’t even really a story about staying awake.  The Master doesn’t mention oil – not once.  And…obsessing about oil seems to be common for the wise and the foolish alike.  The “wise” ones were so obsessed, they wouldn’t share.  And the “foolish” were so obsessed they ran off to buy more and missed the boat!  

What does that leave us with?  

“Amen – I say to you – I do not know you…”

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I don’t even know who you are…  Is that the difference between the wise and foolish virgins?  Is that what makes all the difference when it comes time for the party…?  What if it isn’t about whether we have oil or not…  And even though we’ve got to stay awake, that can’t be our ticket to the big party…the ones who made it inside fell asleep too.  What if what separates wise and foolish is…whether Jesus knows us…whether we’ve let ourselves be known by Him.

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Do you have enough – are you enough – can you get enough – are you woke enough – are you staying awake – this homily is longer than normal…have you fallen asleep?  Are you paying attention at Mass?  Do you have enough oil?  Are you staying awake?  What if none of this matters?

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When you realize you don’t have enough oil…when you’ve fallen asleep…maybe what matters is whether Jesus knows you.  Does Jesus know you?  Do you know Jesus?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

To Save a Thousand Souls...

31st Sun OT Yr A (2017)
Good Shepherd (Frankfort)
Vocations Awareness Week

What if your life is meant to be as significant as Mother Theresa or John Paul II?  Think about it for a minute…don’t doubt, or say that can’t be me… Mother Theresa and John Paul both thought that at times in their life…but that didn’t stop them.  Think about it… what if your life is meant to have as much of an impact, either across the world like theirs or in our little corner of the world here – what if your life is meant for a Great Adventure?

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Wouldn’t that be something?  Wouldn’t it be something if God created you for a purpose?  Wouldn’t it be something if your destiny was to make life better for those around you – to be a part of helping someone else find meaning in their life?  Wouldn’t it be something if God’s plan to save a hungry person from starvation, or bring hope to someone who was completely without hope…wouldn’t it be something if God’s plan to save the soul of countless others included you?  If you knew that to be true…what would you do?

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It’s hard to ask questions like this in our world today – a world where we’ve been conditioned to ask different questions.  Our world teaches us that to be great, we much achieve wealth and status to make a difference; that the only thing that matters is what we want to do, what we think will make us happy.  The world teaches us this from the very beginning – from our earliest ages.  “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  That’s the question we’ve been asked when we were younger…and that’s mostly what we think about, even as we grow older, isn’t it?  What do I want to do Friday night?  Where do I want to go to college?  What kind of job do I want to have?  Will I make enough money?  Will I have a big house and a nice car?

But Jesus asks a different question of those who follow Him, doesn’t He?  In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the greatest – the most significant – the most amazing – the most successful – the greatest among us are the ones who live their lives trying to serve others!  What if real happiness isn’t tied up in chasing after what I want to do…but rather in finding out who God wants me to be?

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It is estimated that the life of a priest over the course of a long and happy ministry significantly impacts the lives of more than a thousand people.  Celebrating their moments of greatest happiness, comforting them in their moments of greatest sorrow, helping to build their faith…helping connect them to God and the Church.  And the same can absolutely be said of the hundreds of religious sisters and brothers throughout the country.  One author says it this way…the life of a priest or religious generally cooperates with God in this world To Save a Thousand Souls  Imagine.  It’s not some crazy outlandish idea…when you think about it.  What if your life was meant To Save a Thousand Souls…

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All across the country this weekend, priests and deacons are kicking off National Vocations Awareness week.  We’re all trying to help one another ask the most important question:  what plan does God have for me?  How has God imagined that I can be a part changing the world around me and changing the lives of those around me now and for eternity?  For many of us, that answer becomes clear when we fall in love and get married.  Raise your hands if you’re married.  … … … Praise God for your holy vocation!  That means that, from the beginning of time, God has called you to a life lived for the purpose of leading and guiding a family, helping your spouse become holy and – with Jesus – bringing them and your children to heaven.  Marriage is a holy vocation when we’re certain that is God’s call for us.  We don’t “pick” marriage from the choices available to us…not if we’re seeking a holy marriage.  We discern it…by asking God: How do I fit into your plan? 

For some of us – most of us perhaps – the answer to that question is marriage. Praise God for holy marriages!  But for some of us, that answer is different.  The problem is, these days we’re not asking the right question.  Take a moment now…ask yourself…ask God…How do I fit into your plan?

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Friends – I’ll be honest with you.  We need holy marriages these days.  To build the Kingdom of God, we need holy marriages.  But we also need priests and deacons, we need religious sisters and brothers.  And God continues to call them – but that call is becoming harder and harder to hear.  We struggle even to ask the right question, because the world around us has encouraged us to focus on ourselves and our own desires.  I want to ask you today to focus on something different.  What is God asking from you?  Because – you see – that’s the key to real happiness in this life.  I had it all – career – house – car – love – success – family.  I had it all…and I thought I was happy.  But then I started to ask God a different question…and discovered that there was more!  Living life as a complete “Yes” to God’s plan for us is a life like no other – it’s a Great Adventure!  It takes us beyond our wildest dreams!  It leads to a happiness and fulfillment I couldn’t have imagined was even possible.  That’s what I want for you…but more importantly, that’s what God wants for you. 

There are some here at this Mass that God is calling to consider priesthood or religious life.  If you think about it for just a moment, you know who I’m talking about.  Maybe it’s you…  We want to help them – we want to help you – listen for God’s voice – for God’s call.  If you would, take a few moments now and consider this question:  Could God be calling you to the Great Adventure of priesthood or religious life?  If so…fill out the front side of the card you received coming in to Church.  We’ll send you some information that can help you hear God speak.  And think about this, too…you know each other well.  You can see the heart of a servant in those around you.  You know who God seems to be working with in a special way…  Maybe they’re being called to the Great Adventure of priesthood or religious life.  On the back of the card, you can provide the name and whatever other information you know to help us get in touch with them and help them.


There are folks in this Church today who God is calling To Save a Thousand Souls.  Maybe it’s you.  Maybe it’s someone you know.  Please share that information with us, and place your card in with the offering in a few minutes.  Our greatest happiness in this life is found in knowing and doing God’s will for our lives – it’s a life like no other – it’s the Great Adventure!  Who is God calling?