About Harvester's Wanted:

A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived for the Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

PRAYER REQUESTS through link on right side-bar.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

He Knows Your Name

Homily for 26th Sunday of Ordinary, Year C ~ 
St. Francis Xavier, Mt. Washington KY & 
All Saints, Taylorsville KY

September 28 and 29, 2013

            There he was: sitting all alone in his miserly cold, dimly lit room. There he was spending time with the one thing that he loved most in the world, the thing that made him feel safe; the thing that separated him from everyone else. There he was counting his money. He had a handy response for anyone who tried to pull him out of this lonely existence. Bah humbug he would say. Bah humbug! I am of course speaking of Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, and while I realize that the Christmas season is still months away, even if the stores will soon be putting out their Christmas displays, Scrooge is too good an image to pass up for today’s Gospel reading.

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            Scrooge of course is an image for the otherwise nameless Rich Man in today’s Gospel. The thing that I find most striking about our Gospel reading is that the Rich Man knows the name of Lazarus. We know this because he calls out to Abraham saying send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. The Rich Man does not say “Abraham send that dead beggar over here!” No! He knew Lazarus’ name, and in connection with that Lazarus had for sometime sat at the door of the Rich Man, a Rich Man with wealth and brothers, for the Gospel tells us he had five, he therefore had the power to remove Lazarus from his doorstep. Based on this I find it justified to imagine that this Rich Man thought he was doing Lazarus a favor. He allowed Lazarus to be near enough to the house that perhaps from time to time he got a scrap to eat or a little alms money; all the while the Rich Man would tell himself, his brothers, and his guests that he was so very charitable on the occasion of one of his many daily sumptuous feasts. Lazarus, however, was never really treated charitably, for he never had the chance to do what he would have gladly done, that is to eat the scarps that fell from the rich man’s table. Lazarus was always kept separate, on the other side of the door; and yet isn't it curious that the Rich Man knew the name of Lazarus.

            Like the Rich Man, Scrooge too knew the name of the lowliest person in his life. Scrooge knew the name of Tiny Tim. He may not have known that Tiny Tim was sick; in fact Scrooge would not have bothered to know that much detail, but it is safe to say that Scrooge would have at least known the names of Cratchit’s children. He may have been surprised by the illness when the Ghost of Christmas Present showed him the scene, but he was not so surprised that he had to ask “who is that?” when Tiny Tim appears. It is one thing to be complacent when there is someone in the world who is suffering and you do not even know that person’s name. Complacency in that all too common instance, while not ok, is understandable when there are so many things going on in our lives right in front of us. Complacency in the face of suffering in the life of someone whom we know the name of, however, that degree of complacency is much harder to excuse.      


File:Gustave Dore Lazarus and the Rich Man.jpg

When Luke sat down and wrote his Gospel he did not name the Rich Man; either Luke or Christ could have easily given the Rich Man a name – they gave Lazarus a name, why not the Rich Man? As in every other occasion of an unnamed character in Scripture Luke is basically leaving a blank underlined by a ‘your name here’ label. We are therefore invited to place ourselves in the story alongside the Rich Man and ask ourselves who we most resemble. It is a product of our fallen existence that we often seek comfort at the cost of complacency. Comfortable complacency is a way of life for many. Those people out there, these people right here, this person standing right here; we all have a tendency to lean towards comfortable complacency even when there is someone in our lives, someone whom we can easily name, someone at arms reach who is suffering. Ask yourselves right now who in your life do you know who needs a kind word and a little help? What is that person’s name? If this is a difficult exercise then I imagine that the lure of comfortable complacency has pulled you in. Surely there is a person at work, a neighbor down the street, another kid in your class, a friend who is too proud to bring up their own pain, a teammate, a sister, a brother, an acquaintance. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s a person whom you run into regularly that you avoid even knowing their name, maybe the checkout girl at the grocery store, the guy behind the counter at the gas station, that person on your street that you’ve consciously kept a distance from for fear of getting entangled in their life, that other mother in the pickup line, or that guy that often comes to your favorite hangout spot and sits alone. I dare say that the sin of the Rich Man was not that he had all kinds of stuff and Lazarus didn’t, that surely had a role to play; rather the sin of the Rich Man was keeping Lazarus on the other side so that he wouldn’t feel compelled to share his things. Scrooge too built a wall, a wall made out of gold coins, a wall that insulated him from the world just as effectively as any wall made of brick and mortar could ever have.

Sisters and brother comfortable complacency separates us from those around us; comfortable complacency is a wall, a great chasm, between us and those we could empathize with but choose not to. Fear leads to loneliness. It is easy to see Scrooge as being lonely, but what about the Rich Man? Was he lonely? I’d say a man who throws lavish dinners every night for a select group of people may not seem lonely but effectively is a very lonely secluded person. Does not our world hold up this Rich Man as an example to emulate? Doesn’t our society say ‘forget that person who will drag you down with their problems?’ Aren’t we in fact living in the age of YOLO? An age where you only live once can easily be used as an excuse for running from the problems in your own life, and especially in the lives of those around us? Don’t we know the name of someone whom we’ve kept on the other side of a great wall built of our own self interests? Don’t you know a name?   

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But wait! Christ knows our name, doesn't he? Sisters and brothers there is good news here, for Christ knows our name! Christ knows the pain in your hearts, Christ knows the walls we build up, Christ knows your fear over letting people in and he knows our anxiety over reaching out to those around us. Christ Jesus knows your name! He knows your name and he is not afraid to cross the uncrossable chasm. When Father Abraham told the Rich Man that no one could cross from one side to the other he was talking about humanities ability to do so. What is impossible for a man is possible for God-made-man, for that is an uncrossable chasm in itself. The Incarnation reveals to us the lengths that God will go to because God knows the names of each and every one of us. The Incarnation and the Resurrection free us from chains of comfortable complacency. Jesus graciously gives us the opportunity to know his name and by knowing and loving his name we have the opportunity to be moved towards loving the names of those around us. Christ Jesus knows our name and he’s willing to do the impossible because of that, not because he has to but because he loves us.

            This frees us for the opportunity to grow in our love and understanding of his sacred name. What Jesus has done for us gives us the opportunity to do as the letter to Timothy instructs, we are thus freed to pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness, to compete well for the faith and to lay hold of eternal life. At this Mass we are invited to grow closer in our understanding of, and love for, the name of Jesus both in his Body and Blood, which we will receive from this altar, as well as in the communion we celebrate between one another. When you think of the name of someone in your life that needs you to be more active in their life we all have the opportunity to remember that Jesus first knew our name before we knew theirs.




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pray for Peace

In honor of the Holy Father's request for a day of prayer and fasting for peace, especially in Syria: 


... and I'll be my brother's keeper, 
so the whole world will know that we're not alone.


World peace begins with inner peace and peace with those around us. Start there and God knows where we'll end up. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What are You Doing Here?


Homily for Wednesday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary, Year I
Given at Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel, Saint Meinrad Seminary

September 4, 2013 

Introduction to Mass: 

We come to this Eucharistic celebration today perhaps a little confused about who we are, and what we are doing here. May the example of Christ in word and sacrament strengthen us in our doubts for the formation year that lies ahead. 
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Homily:

[In a voice of nervousness:] Oh no, what am I doing here? I’m not sure if I belong here! Preaching, already, and on the first early Mass of the year!? What will I say? Will they even hear? Will they all show up? Even if they do will they even be awake? What am I doing here?

What am I doing here? This question begs a second question: what are you doing here? This is not a redundant question; it is one that the returning guys know will be asked of them numerous times. Vocations directors, formation staff, spiritual directors, that voice inside your head; all will repeatedly ask that question albeit in varying forms: what are you doing here? For all the new guys the rector himself will soon be asking you this question, when he meets with you here in the coming weeks. A word of advice: he’s looking for something more profound than getting some movies in, or catching up with the latest celebrity gossip. We all then have to answer the question what are you doing here?

I’ve had many years here to consider the answer to this question; I’ve been here long enough to see two former fellow seminarians return as formation staff. The question always remains the same even for them, what are you doing back here? It is easy to get caught up in the question itself, while it does need to be asked, sometimes the ‘what are you doing here’ covers up the ‘being here.’ Worry, stress, anxiety, missed opportunities, thoughts of inadequacy, loneliness, thoughts of home; all of these can compound and complicate the question what are you doing here?

Paul certainly gives us an answer to this question worthy of reflection. He says to the Colossians just as in the whole world it, meaning the word of truth, it is bearing fruit and growing, so also among you. You and I have heard that word of truth, here! You and I have the opportunity to grow, here! You and I have the opportunity to bear fruit, here! Throughout this year, when you ask yourselves, and others ask you, what are you doing here; instead of becoming discouraged and hard on yourself, avoid the temptation of thinking you’ve made a mistake. Avoid the temptation of thinking you are wasting your time because no matter what, if you are here and open to the word of truth, you too will grow and bear fruit.

This is not always easy, believe me brothers I know this very well. Sometimes it can all seem like too much. Seminary is difficult, life is difficult, put them both together, and as we say in Pewee Valley, it ain’t no picnic. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just stay in bed, possibly stay there till you’re dead. Take Simon’s mother-in-law for example. She was basically done, instead of the seminarian fever however it’s reasonable to believe that she was really sick. Just imagine Jesus walking into this scene:

Healing of Peter's Mother-in-law by John Bridges 

[In Howard’s mother’s voice:] Howard, Simon, whoever you are! What’s that man doing in here? I just knew my daughter would end up marrying a putz like you! Can’t you see I’m dieing here? All I want is to be left alone and here you are with you little friend, Jesus! Hey you! Yeah you! What are you doing here?

What’s more stubborn: a seminarian or a Jewish mother-in-law? This year may bear the answer to that question. With a quick prayer and a hasty rebuke of that fever, however, and Jesus even has this Jewish mother-in-law up, bearing fruit and growing. What can I say, Jesus has that effect on people. Jesus gets people up and moving. Jesus knew why he was in that room because Jesus knew why he had come into the world. He tells us right here that he has come to proclaim the good news. He proclaims it here today at this altar, to all of us wondering why we are here. What will your response be?    
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Intercessions: 

For all Church leaders; the Bishops all the way up to catechists and parents, that they all may gain clarity and perseverance in their role through the certainty that Christ has in his. We pray to the Lord. 

For civil, business, and military leaders; that they may contemplate why they are where they are so that they may go about their duties more reflective of the effects they have on those they lead. We pray to the Lord.

For this community; that we may find a sense of peace in being here, so that we can be about the work of growing as disciples of our Lord Jesus. We pray to the Lord.

For all the lonely and oppressed and for all of those who no longer know why they go on living in this world. That the light of Christ, seen in the joy of his disciples, may brighten their world. We pray to the Lord.

For all the dead, especially the dead that we carry close to our hearts… that they may all one day intercede for us before the face of God. We pray to the Lord.