Sunday, July 9, 2017

This Is Your Commitment Day!

Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul 2017
Ss. Peter & Paul, Danville

What comes to mind when you think of Saints Peter & Paul, the patrons of our parish?  What do you remember from their lives?

Do you remember Jesus walking along the shore and inviting Peter to follow him – and how Peter got up, left his nets, and simply went?  Wow. Do you remember how eager St. Peter was – always ready to give it a shot, ready to step out onto the water not knowing how any of it would work?  Maybe you remember how Peter often seemed to sink after just a few steps – but whenever he fell and thought he might drown, Jesus always reached out to save him.

What about St. Paul – what do you remember about St. Paul?  Do you remember that he spent his early career destroying the Church? Unwilling to believe what God was really up to?  Do you remember Jesus knocking him off his high horse, and how St. Paul let himself be transformed – let himself be converted?  Do you remember St. Paul’s Great Adventure – how he literally changed the world forever by being an authentic disciple and living his life for the spread of the gospel and the salvation of souls?  Throwing caution to the wind and living his life courageously and heroically in the faith and love of Jesus…  Do you remember how both Peter and Paul earned the martyr’s crown by not holding anything back – even giving their lives for love of Jesus?  What comes to mind when you think of Saints Peter & Paul, the patrons of our parish?  What do you remember from their lives…and what is your response?

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There’s a spark in each one of us that tries its best to grow into a flame when we hear the Great Adventure stories of the saints.  There’s a part of each one of us that thinks, “That could be me! I want to live my life like that!  I don’t know how, but I want to!  I want to go ‘all in’ and trust Jesus so completely that I give it all to Him!  Oh Jesus – that could be me, couldn’t it?  Let’s do this!  I love you!  I trust you!  You’re calling me to be a hero like St. Peter and St. Paul – I don’t know what that looks like for me – but I want to find out.  That could me, Lord – and I’m here – I’m ready – Let’s Go!!”

That spark is inside each one of us.  When we think of the saints – when we consider Peter and Paul – there’s something in us that wonders…  What would my marriage and family be like if I dared to live my faith that way?  What would happen if I chased Jesus instead of chasing money and success? Could I actually lead someone to Jesus?  Could I actually be a saint? What if I went to seminary?  What if I joined the convent?  Could I be a missionary?  What would happen in our parish – what would happen in our town – what would happen in my workplace or in my school if I stopped just going along with the mindless crowd and began to be like Peter & Paul? 

Inside each of us, when we consider the lives and adventures of the saints, we begin to wonder for a second, “Could that be me?”

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And then it happens…something steals the dream from us.  That voice – that cloud – that most ancient of all serpents who lies, and sews doubt and fear in our hearts.  He goes by all kinds of names – he calls himself Reality: “There’s not enough time or money for me to live life that way…”  He dresses up as shame and doubt and regret: “I’m not holy enough, courageous enough… I’m a sinner and I can’t quit sinning… Maybe when I was younger, but not now… Maybe when I get older, but not now… I’m just little ole me, I can’t be a hero… I can’t be a saint… I can’t change the world… That’s for people like them – not for people like me…”  And as quick as the spark comes alive, it vanishes…and we go back to our “normal lives”…

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Whether you admit it or not, that’s happening inside you right now.  Either that, or you’ve so let the spark be dampened that the flash of fire is so distant, so unbelievable, that you don’t even notice it anymore.  That’s what the enemy wants, you know.  He wants you so trapped in the hamster wheel of ‘living life’ that the Great Adventure seems unreal.  He wants you so drunk on the world that you can’t wake up to the call of adventure.  Make no mistake – that is the work of Evil Himself, Satan, the Enemy of your soul…  The battle is real…  Thank God for Peter & Paul.

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You see – they might seem to be giants and heroes of the faith to us – but they were just people like you and me.  They doubted.  They got it wrong.  They made mistakes. The only difference between them and us is that one day…one day they didn’t let that slithering voice dampen the flame Jesus fanned alive inside them.  They were never the same after that – and neither was the world! Peter and Paul changed the world!  And we can too!  You can too!

That’s why our patrons are so important…because they’re examples to us that we can do what they did!  They doubted, and trusted anyway.  They made mistakes, and kept going.  They sinned – and sought forgiveness.  They wondered if it was possible to live life on a Great Adventure…and then they set out anyway and kept going through their doubts…and they changed the world!

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Close your eyes and pray for a moment – listen to the voice inside of you.  Isn’t there a part of you that wonders if you can really be a saint – isn’t there a fire somewhere inside urging you to jump into this Great Adventure of faith?  Some part of you that wants to be a hero – wants to be part of something bigger that can change the world – some part of you that wants to jump off the cliff and follow Jesus wherever He leads?  Raise your hand – forget what others will think – if that spark in you is coming alive right now, raise your hand.  In your heart say, “Jesus – I believe – I believe you are real – I believe you love me – I believe you want to use me to change the world!”  Raise your hand if that’s happening in your heart right now…  Am I the only one?

Now…keep your hands in the air – switch arms if you need to and listen to these words.  If you haven’t put your hand up yet and want to, join us anytime.  Listen to these words and make sure your hand is in the air if you want to live a life that sounds like this – this is your moment of commitment – raise your hand to tell Jesus you want to live life the way Paul describes it:

I will compete well; I will finish the race; I will keep the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who long for his appearance. The Lord stands by me and gives me strength, so that through me the Gospel might be preached and everyone around me will hear it.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

This is a life like no other – this is the Great Adventure!  Raise your hand and say it with me:  Saints Peter & Paul, pray for us!

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