The Mission of Harvesters Wanted:

To spread the Good News of JESUS CHRIST in word and in action! As well as promoting the baptismal call of all the faithful to follow whatever vocation our God has called them to!

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:19-20

The place to find homilies and reflections given along the path of faith by Fr. Adam Carrico, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

CONVERSATIONS WITH CHRIST

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Boniface Parish

September 16, 2018





How many conversations do you think you have daily? What about in a week, a month, a year? Hundreds? Thousands? For those who are younger, we're also talking about an electronic communication. Those certainly counts as well; as ineffective as electronic communication can be at relaying everything that we must communicate. We communicate with one another on a regular basis. It's kind of what we do as human beings. We are creatures who are in relationship one to another. We live in a community and we can't help but communicate at least in some way with others and with the outside world on a somewhat regular basis. We have conversations, conversations throughout the day with many different people about many different topics. If we look at the kind of conversations that we have, one with another, we can put them into a sort of hierarchy. Now, there are plenty of ways of categorizing conversations, I imagine the communication majors out there might correct me, or offer another way of categorizing conversations, but this three-tiered system seems to fit, especially considering today's gospel. In this way one might categorize conversations in terms of talking about who we are, especially in relationship with one another, followed by what we do, also in relationship to who we are – often who we are informs what it is that we do. Thirdly, basically everything else: other, people, places, and things. Sometimes these third category conversations can lead toward gossip, sometimes they are informational, sometimes it's just small talk. First and foremost, who we are, and what we do, followed by conversations regarding other people, places, and things.


These first two, and more integral, types of conversations are the kind of conversation that Christ is having with his disciples as they are going about their way. They are going from one town to the next and Christ starts one of these first-tier conversations: ‘Who do people say that I am?’ We're not sure what they were talking about before he asked this question. Perhaps it could have been one of those third level conversations. They could have been talking about the latest scandal in Rome, some things never change, they could have been talking about their political leaders, or their religious leaders in Jerusalem. They could have been talking about the latest gossip from the town that they were coming from, or the gossip of the town they were going to; maybe whatever it was that so-and-so had done, whatever it was hat seemed so important at the time. They could have been having all these sorts of conversation when Christ interrupts with his question about himself. He wants to talk about who it is that people think of him as, not in a selfish way, but in a way that's important and meaningful. In-fact, much of the Gospels are trying to answer that very question: Who is Christ? Who is he, what has he come to do, what is he, what is going on? In the midst of the daily and ordinary Christ aks: ‘Who do people say that I am?’ His disciples could have come up with all sorts of other explanations: ‘some say you're a great political leader, some say you will free us from a Roman captivity, some say you’re an entertainer, that you've come to distract us, to offer us some entertainment, some say you're insane, you're crazy, perhaps even trouble, you are stirring things up, you are causing difficulty for yourself and for those around you!’


Christ listen to all these possibilities and then asks them ‘now, who do you say that I am?’ Peter speaks up, and he gets it right, he says ‘you are the Christ! You are the Messiah, the promised one, the one we have been waiting for!’ Peter doesn't have a full understanding of what that means, but he has, through God's grace, seen Christ for who he is. He's answered that first question: Who is Christ. The conversation then turns to what he is there to do. The reason Christ has come. He has come to die for our sins, he will be put to death, he will suffer and die, and on the third day he will rise again. Peter having recognized the answer to the first question doesn't really like the answer to the second question. And how often is that similar with us? We approach God through conversation, through prayer. Truly prayer is a conversation with God, and I imagine that often those conversations dwells in the first two categories: Who am I, and what am I supposed to do? And we may not always like the response we get in prayer. We may not always agree, at least at first, with what God has to offer us in prayer: the answers to who we are, and what we are called to do. Peter has his own idea. We don't know exactly what that is, but somehow he sees the Messiah as something else, probably someone who is there to set them free from physical captivity - the Captivity of the Roman Empire, the rule of a foreign government. Whatever it may have been, for Peter, that's as far as his vision goes. He does not want to go any further past that. Christ knows what he is here to do, he knows who he is, and what that calls him to do. He has a mission that goes far beyond the vision of Peter or the other disciples. He is there for a different reason. He is not there to fulfil Peter's smaller understanding of the mission of the Christ, he has a much larger mission, a wonderful mission: to set all of us free, not only from our current captivity but from our captivity for the rest of our lives, for all eternity.


Prayer is a conversation with Christ. We approach Christ through conversations. But first and foremost, we must be willing to have the courage to even have those conversations. We could get stuck in the third category: conversations about other people, other places, other things; or instead: Who am I? What am I supposed to do? These conversations with God help to clarify our relationship with God, and with one another. The third category conversations may be important, but they will be clearer if we have first entered into the first, and second, conversations. We may not always like what we receive in prayer. We may have our own ideas about who we are and what we are called to do. God will, hopefully, use a little more gentleness than he did with Peter in guiding us, helping us to recognize the truth. God guides us to see what it is we are called to do with our lives. We have our own ideas of course. We think as human beings do, we can think in no other way. We're not angels, we are not gods, we are human beings - we think as human beings do, not as God does. The turning point is being opened to that correction from God. Having God turn our vision, just a little, so that we see a little more of God's plan for us, and our lives, so that we can continue that conversation, that prayerful conversation with God about how we fit into God’s salvific mission for the world. God is still working. God’s mission for our salvation had a pinnacle at the crucifixion, at the cross, but Christ is still working. He is working through each and every one of us. So let us, in prayer, ask God who it is that we are, and what it is that we are called to do.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Catholic Celebrations of September


The month of September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, whose memorial the Church celebrates on September 15.

~ ~ ~

The Holy Father's Intentions for September: That young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries.


Find More at CatholicCulture.org


2 September - Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - Solemnity

3 September - Memorial
3 September - Labor Day
5 September - Optional Memorial
8 September - Feast

9 September - Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Solemnity

12 September - Optional Memorial
13 September - Memorial
14 September - Feast
15 September - Memorial

16 September - Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Solemnity

16 September - Memorial

17 September - Optional Memorial

19 September - Optional Memorial

20 September - Memorial
21 September - Feast

23 September - Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Solemnity

23 September - Memorial
26 September - Optional Memorial
27 September - Memorial
28 September - Optional Memorial
29 September - Feast

30 September - Twenty-Sixth Sunday in ordinary Time - Solemnity

30 September - Memorial


Monday, August 20, 2018

TWO PRECIOUS GIFTS

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Patrick Parish

August 18-19, 2018



Children certainly are a precious gift, and we celebrate that gift today in the Sacrament of Baptism. Thank you, parents and God-parents, for being here, for supporting your child, to help them to say yes, and, as they grow in years, to learn about our Lord and Savior and to develop their love for him. Children don't just find faith, they are brought up in it, they are raised in it. Children are a most precious gift indeed. 


I should be able to continue our discussion of the bread of life discourse - John chapter 6, the great chapter which Catholics go to time and again to look for reassurance of the true presence in the Eucharist. Of God’s body, blood, soul and Divinity bestowed upon us under the form of simple bread and wine. We see this laid out there in John 6, the entire chapter is made up of scene after scene, line after line, reassurance of what we do here at this altar is truly what Christ asked us, and indeed commanded us, to do in remembrance of him. We have faith in that, in fact, John, in his Gospel, doesn't even have a last supper scene. He puts all his Eucharistic Theology there much earlier, in the sixth chapter of his Gospel. The other Gospels wait a little while John has the Eucharist front and center. He wanted to make sure that we understand what Christ has come to do. 

The Greek word for eat that John uses in his Gospel, and which is used elsewhere in reference to the Eucharist, the word eat used here is not nibble, or snack, it is more of the word gnaw, as in a dog does with a bone, or devour. “Take this and devour my flesh” is more along the lines of what Christ is saying here in John’s Gospel. This translation makes it a little bit more real, a bit more visceral, when we think of it in terms of devouring the flesh of Christ. I don't think Jesus can be much clearer “if you don't eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have eternal life within you.” 

I would love to go on about this most precious gift of the Church. As I said we have two, and the first is only slightly more important than the second. If the first most precious gift is the Eucharist, the second most precious gift are our children. The children we are given to form as we support families, and their vocation to raise Christian children. We – the Catholic Church - educates thousands, if not millions of children throughout the world. We are entrusted with that great gift. I take it for certain that Christ meant what he said in Matthew’s Gospel: “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” ~ Matthew 18:6 To have a millstone wrapped around his neck and drowned in the sea. Sounds straightforward. It was mentioned after the last Mass: “Father, you can talk about God's wrath a little bit more.” Well, I think Matthew makes it pretty clear to not cause the little ones to sin, and yet here we are again. Why are we here again?


For those who haven't seen or heard a grand jury in Pennsylvania has come out with a horrific number of accusations, all of them having been committed some time ago, but still - quite upsetting, quite unnerving really. We live in the shadow of these events, and unfortunately men in power did not have the courage, twenty years ago or more, to hold accountable those responsible for these crimes. For whatever reason year followed silent year, and here we go again. We all, each of us in our own way, has lived, for quite some time, in the shadow of the reality that there are quite literally wolves in sheep’s clothing . I’m right there in that, having grown up in St. Aloysius parish, just missing one of the most prolific offenders from the Archdiocese of Louisville by a few short years. Just barely missing his possible influence on my life and yet he still effected my childhood – the culture that he left behind reeked, without my knowing it, of his lasting influence. I just want to say for anyone here who has suffered abuse, that is: sexual, physical, emotional, or even spiritual abuse I want you to talk to someone, talk to one of us, talk to a trusted friend, don’t hold it in if you can help it. In these times, when all these reports begin to come out, it could be very difficult for all of us, even more difficult for those who have suffered personally. 

We must, both personally and collectively, figure out what we are to do in response to this horrific news. In our culture there is this intense need for us as individuals to solve the problem, for us to do something personally to make the situation better, but really, truly what can we do? What can we do? It has been offered to me, as a suggestion, by a former seminarian who I studied with, not from the Archdiocese but of a different diocese, and no longer associated with the church, that he stated: “Father, you have power, you should refuse to say Mass until something happened, until some legitimate change takes place.” I don't know if I want to deprive you, my sisters and brothers, of the one most precious gift the Church has to offer, in such troubled times because of the failings of others. I don't think that's necessarily the way. Another suggestion has been made that we have Mass, but that the lay faithful come forward and not receive the Eucharist but instead to weep tears of mourning, to weep tears of anger. I don't know, that's for you to decide. These two suggestions aside, each of us is confronted with this need to do something. We must do something. I want to reassure you, even though words hardly instill confidence in times such as these, knowing that actions speak louder than words and hoping you see in my actions the reality of this statement: my sisters and brothers, I swear to you, I swear, if I thought that this was continuing to happen, if I thought there was even the possibility that this is continuing to happen, I would not be standing here. The priests of the Archdiocese are not perfect, I'm not perfect, I think I've made that clear as I have opened myself up to you. We're not perfect, we've made mistakes, and I'm sure some of you are thinking of some examples, but we have dealt with it. We have dealt with those crimes, those difficulties, those situations. My generation of brother priests have been trained, from the moment we entered seminary ten years ago, “Gentlemen this cannot happen again.” From the very core of our training we have been trained, have been brought up to protect the Eucharist and to honor our children. Deacon Greg here would die for those that he was sworn to protect, that was his training. I would rather die than to see the Eucharist mishandled, misused, and the same for our little ones. I would rather die, so I swear to you. Unfortunately, there will be instances, but we will deal with it, and there are many safeguards in place. At least in this diocese, as far as I'm concerned, we are not going to see a culture that allows this to happen like this again.


That’s what I have decided to do. To speak that truth. But what are we to do? What are we to do as we move forward? I’ll offer a suggestion. The Church has a long-standing tradition for what we are to do in times of trouble, in times of crisis, in times of anger and frustration and that plan really is simple: we fast, we pray, and we give alms. Fast, pray, and give alms. You may be sitting there thinking ‘Father, what did I do?’ Nothing. In this instance you’ve done nothing. You are still a sinner, a sinner such as I. In this instance you haven't done anything, you're not part of this; but the suffering and the sacrifice of the righteous, for the salvation of the Church, goes much farther than the suffering and sacrifices of the guilty. If we look to the prophet Jonah, as he's making his way to through the city of Nineveh, proclaiming the destruction of that city, he preaches to the people saying ‘repent!’ The King puts on sackcloth and ashes, he calls the rest of the people, the men, the women, and the children to repent, to fast, and to wear ashes as well. They didn't do anything. The king should take the brunt of it, but the people fasted as well, and the city was saved. You know who else fasted? The sheep, the oxen, and all the cattle as well; they certainly had nothing to do with the sins of their leaders, but they fasted they had their part. My sisters and brothers, the Church is in danger. The Church is being misrepresented because of these sins and the sins of those on the inside who have not done what they promised, what they swore to do. There is danger ahead. 

The King of Nineveh 

I personally haven't experienced much in the way of outright hatred of the clergy, but there was one instance, while I was in seminary visiting at a friend's house and an acquaintance came over with her child. As one does I go to greet the child and point blank I was told “stay away from my child.” We were in the middle of someone's living room, and I'm not like that, but the assumption was made all the same. I don't tell you to cause you to feel sorry for me. I knew what I was getting into when I went to seminary, but I didn't expect all these revelations to start happening like this again. But here we are, here we are my sisters and brothers, we as children, as adopted children of Jesus Christ, we go to our mother. If you like, I have a prayer card asking the intercession of Our Lady Undoer of Knots - our Holy Father's favorite Marian apparition – Marian devotion. Our Holy Father’s words in response to this these recent revelations: sorrow and disgust, sorrow and disgust. He says, “I am on the side of the victims” and so should we all be. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, he asks us to pray for the intercession of Our Lady Undoer of Knots. In this image of her she is just simply standing, untying knot, after knot, after knot. For those of us, for many of us I am certain, who feel tangled up inside, for those who don't know exactly what to do, I say let's ask for her intercession. Let's pray for her intercession. Let us ask her, to ask her Son to save His Church. I'll have these prayer cards in the back, after Mass if you would like to join me in praying this devotion to our Lady Undoer of Knots. With that, sisters and brothers, we move forward, we pray, we fast, we give alms, and we ask Almighty God to have mercy on His bride the Church.



Monday, August 6, 2018

STARVING FOR SLAVERY, WELCOMED INTO PARADISE

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Boniface Parish

August 5, 2018



By a show of hands, who are the cat people here? Raise your hands high and proud. Disgusting. OK, you can put your hands down. There's another homily for you, we'll get to you later. Now, where are the dog people? Just to clarify, are we talking real dogs, or dogs that are more like cats? It's not really a real dog if you have bend over to pet it. It really isn't a dog, it's more like a cat. The reason I bring this up is I just got a dog a couple of months ago, I don't know if I've really told you about her. She's basically a real dog… you have to kind of bend - a little bit - to pet her, but her name is Lady, she's four and a half years old, she's kind of nuts. So, the rumor is true, there is a lady who lives in the rectory, and most of the time she sleeps in my bed. Last night, however, she slept in Father Jeff's bed because I was way, apparently, she’ll sleep with anybody! That's my dog!


Dogs seem to always do things for food. Whatever it is you want them to do, have a treat ready. In so many ways dogs are guided by their stomachs. They live for food in so many ways. Another dog, actually a pair of Collies, that I often notice walking around the neighborhood, out taking their human for a walk. One of these Collies is always way out in front, and the other Collie is always way in the back, with their human right there in the middle. I imagined the Collie in the back is thinking “why are you taking us further and further away from food?” While the one in the front is thinking “if we walk faster we'll get back to the food sooner!” In this imaginary dialogue exists the tension between moving forward, and wanting to go back, and, in the end, this tension has to do with food.


We can follow our stomachs just as much as a dog can. God desires to speak to us through our intellect, and through the emotions of our hearts, but oftentimes it is our stomachs that guide us. We see this with the Hebrew people wandering in the desert. They are grumbling to Moses and their leaders. They say, “why have you brought us out here to starve to death!?!” Not a bad question, but they are acting out of their hunger - their hunger is guiding them. Their need for food is what is informing their being, and so they complained and said “back in Egypt we had fleshpots (which is actually a synonym for sin - that's a whole other thing) and we had bread, we had fleshpots and bread back in Egypt, sure we were slaves, but at least we had food! Why have you brought us here, out into this wilderness, out into the desert?” They had some desire to go back, to return to the place where they knew they had food. They had, as a people, crossed the Red Sea - the great symbol for baptism. They had gone through the waters of death and rebirth and come out the other side - they cannot go back - they are the chosen people of God. They are not supposed to go back, especially not if their stomachs are leading them.

Manna in the Desert

The lower desires of the human person pull individuals, and communities, back into slavery, it pulls them back to where they know they at least has food. Saint Paul picks up this theme in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul says, “do not return to acting as the gentiles do,” do not go back to acting as they do, he doesn't just say don't act like them, he says don't go back to acting like them - don't return to that way of life. We may at times fall, we may at times stumble, but do not just throw away what you have received. Do not forget the new identity in Christ that you have been called to, do not return to your Gentile ways. You can't go back! The entirety of humanity is lost in this desert, this desert between where we were, and where we are called to be, in between that land of slavery and looking forward to the land of promise. Just like the Hebrew people, lost in the desert wandering around this barren place, looking for glimmers of hope, longing for the promised homeland that God himself has sworn we will enter if we follow him. We make our way, with the help of God, through this desert. And yet sometimes we desire lowly things, earthly things, desires that tempt us back, back into our life before Christ, our life before baptism, our life ultimately without God. 


The Jewish people, in our Gospel for today, are also looking back and thinking about how they have received food and bread from Christ. Christ has multiplied the fish and the loaves, he has fed them, he has filled their stomachs, and they travel to the other shore because he can provide for them in that way. They are simply looking for him to give them the food that they need. They speak of how Moses provided them with food in the desert. What they fail to realize is that God’s covenant relationship with his people builds one on top of the other. As they get closer, and closer, and closer to that great covenant, the Incarnation, when God becomes man, when God enters our reality as one of us, walks amongst us. God moves forward, God does not move backward. God has already provided physical food for the hungry - in the desert by providing manna for those who need sustenance, and in the previous scene, God has feed the hungry crowd by multiplying the fish and loaves. Does it not seem logical that God, having come in the flesh, God so much greater than Moses could even have imagined, would that God simply repeat what has been done before? Or would God choose to do something greater than Moses did? God, who has provided food to the hungry before the Incarnation, would the Incarnate God do something greater after the incarnation? God moves us forward, God does not call us backward. God provides for us still! They ask Jesus, “Lord give us this food always” and he answered that desire. 


Christ answered that desire then, and he answers it still today. The food we receive from this altar may look, taste, and feel like ordinary food. It may have the outside appearance of ordinary fruit, but God is filling us with something so much greater than manna from heaven! The food of angels, we are told, was received by Moses and the Hebrews lost in the desert. We receive something so much greater. God moves us forward ,closer and closer to the kingdom of God. It is this food that will sustain us for that journey. We returned here time and again, return to this sacred space, and sacred spaces like this across the world. Holy places where we catch a glimpse of paradise yet to come. Sunday after Sunday we return to receive this food to help us on this journey, to help us not fall back into slavery and sin, back to Egypt, but to move forward to the Promised Land where all of us, God willing, by our hope, prayer, and God's good grace, be together for eternity in that promised land, that we were promised so very long ago. Pray for one another, as we receive from this altar, that our hearts, our minds, as well as our stomachs, be filled with this bread, this Eucharist, Christ himself offering himself to feed and sustain us.



Sunday, July 22, 2018

INCONVENIENCED BY THE SHEPHERD’S GAZE

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Boniface Parish

July 22, 2018

USCCB Lectionary Readings




To begin, I want you to imagine your second favorite place to be. Saint Boniface is of course your first, so imagine your second favorite place to go. Perhaps a place you want to go, perhaps the place you like to go most often. Just imagine your second favorite place to visit - I'll get back to it I promise. At Saint Patrick's, much like at Saint Boniface, our parking lot has been neglected for some time. Maybe not quite as bad as our parking lot here, but still it had gotten pretty tore up over the years, and it was time to do some work on it. Over the past week they have been doing all the things that they need do to get the parking lot ready, and then to redo the parking lot. Looking out the window, seeing them working, watching these men who labor and do this kind of work for a living - watching them do what they do I’ve noticed that here is an interesting situation that I have witnessed on several occasions. The men would be just standing around, maybe one or two, maybe a larger group, and they would just be looking - looking at the parking lot. Just standing there looking, and they might point at a particular spot, and do some hand gestures, and then they would walk around, and then look at it again. Now some of this may be them just engaging in small talk, perhaps some of it, but I imagine, to some extent, this behavior is part of their job. They were doing their job. They are experts at what they do, after having done who knows how many parking lots, they are experts of the various small subtle ways in which the lands can affect the parking lot. Saint Patrick's, I don't know if you've ever been there, but we are set up on a pretty big hill and this hill has an obvious effect on the parking lot. So, as I watched them pointing up and down the parking lot I got to thinking ‘what is it that they are looking for?’ 


Part of the situation at St. Patrick's is that there is a hidden spring - a source of water that comes up almost continuously, and this spring has, over the years, affected the parking lot in such a way that it is a significant source of erosion on the parking lot. So much so that even in the driest times there has been water that would pool in a certain area and moss had even begun to grow there. This damage to the parking lot was one of several things that they had to work. I believe, having watched them, part of what they were standing around doing was recognizing that even though the water was coming up over here, the trouble was actually way over here. The water was coming up in a different location, and then coming down and coming out in this other area. I would have never guessed this to be the situation. I would have just pointed at the wet spot and said ‘there, there's a spring under that asphalt right there - we need to do something about it, it's damaging the parking lot.’ These laborers, being experts in how a parking lot can behave, knew that the problem was way over here. 


Back to your second favorite place to visit. Imagine driving up and the parking lot is under construction! You arrive there and there's a whole big mess! How inconvenient that is. How inconvenient it is to show up at a place that you want to be, a place where you enjoy being, only to suffer the inconvenience of the parking lot under construction. We at Saint Patrick's have been inconvenienced by all this work, in a small way the clergy have been particularly inconvenienced. We live on one side of the parking lot, and we're pretty used to just walking across the parking lot to get to work, to get to our place of prayer, to get to our office, all the above. How inconvenient this whole big mess is! All this construction, especially when it seems like such a little problem like a underground spring over here - why this whole big mess? Inconvenient, it's inconvenient to have all of this happen. Point of fact, in the coming weeks, and the coming months, we at Saint Boniface will be inconvenienced by the renovation of our parking lot. Maybe this will help to prepare you a little.


Now you may be asking ‘Father, what in the world are you talking about?’ Those men, those who construct parking lots for a living, they see different. They see a parking lot differently than you or I. Jesus Christ, God born in the flesh, in our Gospel today, he sees the crowds, he sees them, and his heart is moved with pity for them ‘for they are like sheep without a shepherd.’ He sees them, the infinite God, the all loving, all powerful, omnipresent God sees this crowd and he is moved with pity for them. His heart is moved. He sees them for who they truly are, and for who they could be, who they are called be. Christ does not see them the way we would see them. The way that he sees them, it can be inconvenient at times. We might ask ourselves: ‘God, what are you doing in my life? The problem is over here, it's a simple fix Jesus! Why don't you just deal with this little problem over here?’ Jesus, with the eyes of an expert, an expert that knows the human heart better than any of us ever can, he knows that the problem is not over here, it is over there, we just have no idea. We don't know it because we're not accustomed to see it that way. Christ is the Good Shepherd, the shepherd who knows us, who sees us, and who loves us. 


Our first reading today warns us of bad shepherds, shepherds who do  not shepherd the people well, that don't lead the people well. There are plenty of people out there who are going to want to say ‘I can fix that, that's easy, I can do that. In fact, it will only cost half as much as that other guy, and I will finish it really quickly. A breeze really, no problem at all, we'll just fix that over there.’ Sisters and brothers don't be fools. The life of discipleship is not typically an easy life. In the life of discipleship, it's not typically that problem there, but rather a problem way over here that will require a lot more painful and disruptive work than we might first imagine. It can be inconvenient to live the life of discipleship. It can be inconvenient to let Christ, dare I say, tear up our hearts. Let Christ in to get to the problem that's over here. We can, together open our hearts to him. Let the good shepherd work on us, in us, and through us. Let him work to bring our hearts to a happier, and a more peaceful reality. Christ Jesus sees us as we are, as we could be, and his heart is moved with pity for us. Allow that inconvenient shepherd to shepherd your heart today.



Monday, July 9, 2018

FAMILIARITY ~ A FICKLE DESIRE

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary

Saint Boniface Parish

July 8, 2018



There are quite a few strange ideas that came out in the 1970s. Do you agree? Now don’t get me wrong the 1980s weren’t without their own faults. I know there are some pretty strange things that came out of the 80s - I am not the least of them! There is an idea, that originated in the 70s and it has repeated itself since. This idea probably had a lot to do with the growth in population, and there was indeed a rather large growth. The Baby Boomer generation had come in the 50s and 60s and so the population of the 1970s did look drastically larger than it did decades before. The idea I am speaking of is that there were more people alive then, at that time, than had ever lived before. It is obvious that the current population was the largest ever, but the idea help that the current population was larger than the total number of people who had previously lived - in its entirety. So, the number of people alive at that time was more than everyone else had lived before. If we really think about it, the idea is preposterous. I first heard this idea several years ago, and they were seriously making the claim that the current population was that proportionately massive. As soon as I could, I Googled this assertion and that is when I read about how it was first proposed in the 1970s and was repeated then on. From there I found an estimate of the world's population in its entirety. So currently there are about 7-8 billion people alive in the world. How many people do you think have ever lived? How many members of our species? How many individuals have lived on this earth: lived, laughed, cried, loved and died? The answer: a hundred and eight billion people - 108 billion people! There is a little bit of truth to what this idea was saying - there was, and is, a sizable percentage of the world's population alive at the time – seven or eight billion out of 108 is still a sizable percentage, but it's not nearly as many as had ever lived before. A hundred and eight billion people, that is a lot of people! We can hardly even begin to comprehend the number of people alive currently but a hundred and eight billion souls.


The cynical part of me thinks that this idea, that there are more people alive currently than have ever lived, has something to do with the idea that our experience as individual humans is so completely unique that no one else could really understand what we have experienced in our life. But if we begin to imagine a hundred and eight billion people, does that change that perspective? Don't get me wrong, your experience of your lives, my experience of my life, it is unique - but it is hardly unobtainable. If we put our life in the perspective of a hundred and eight billion lives, your experience is not – unimaginable, it is not that very different from the life of some other human beings who has lived in the past. When we recognize that so many others have had similar experiences as we have had we can see that there really is more that unites us than sets us apart.


Throughout the lives of each one, each one of those 108 million individuals, has had, at their very core - while they were alive, a singular desire. If you begin to strip away the desires for material goods, as well as our sinful inclinations, if you remove all of that, if we begin to get down to the core of what it is that the human heart desires - I believe what we will find is the desire to be known. That is, the desire to be understood, to have someone understand our story, to get who we are, why we feel how we feel, how it is that we have come to be where we are at. We can, if we aren’t careful, fall into the trap of thinking that our story is so unique that no one could understand it, try as they might. We can fall for that trap, or we can see in the vast multitude of other lived experience and recognize that our story, while in a sense is unique, but is also attainable, understandable to another human person. Who we are is understandable, to a degree, by someone else.


That desire to be known, the desire to be understood, is ultimately only capable of being fulfilled by one person: God-made-man - Jesus Christ himself. Infinite knowledge, infinite understanding, infinite love – all in all packed into one individual person. Perfectly God and perfectly human, together, right there - the ability to understand everything about us. The ability to penetrate the innermost places of our hearts to understand us for our glory, our achievements, but also for those dark places that we rather not recognize. One person, God-made-man able to fulfill that desire in each one of our hearts. We see, in our Gospel today, those who grew up with him. Those who laughed, cried, who played in the streets of Nazareth with him - they knew him – just as any of us know those we grew up with, they walked with him, they went to synagogue with him, they learned with, laughed and cried with him, lay lived beside knowledge itself, and they didn’t recognize him for who he was. They knew him, that handful of people in the wide vastness of the human population, they lived with him in Nazareth. These people had the experience of knowing the answer to our innermost desire, at least they thought they knew him, they thought they understood him, and they rejected. They said, ‘surely you're not who you say you are, surely you're not the answer that we've been looking for.’ Right there in front of them, they had known him since his miraculous birth. Perhaps there were rumors concerning Joseph and Mary, perhaps a little uncertainty as to where he came from, who he was. For the most part, however, they thought they had him figured out - the answer to each of our desires.


We are invited to encounter that same mystery. Not walking alongside him, in the same way, but encountering him all the same, that God-made-man, the one who still comes to us time and time again in the Eucharist. Reveals himself time and again on this altar. We can, unfortunately, become a little too familiar with what we do here. It has been said ‘why should I go to Sunday Mass, I've done that before! It's not going to be anything new, I'm not going to be surprised by it. It's not going to be earth shattering! The priest may say a few words and I will probably forget it as soon as we get to the parking lot!' I know we've done it all before. It's all familiar, the same thing pretty much every Sunday - and yet it's amazing, what we do here, what we encounter here is amazing! We have an encounter with Jesus Christ, the answer to that desire that lives deep in each of us. Let us not become too familiar with that. This is the irony of the desire of being known – the One who can know us perfectly, we quickly become so familiar with that it doesn't seem to really matter. There's a danger there, the danger of our hearts being made open and vulnerable, our hearts remaining opened to that presence. It may seem to be nothing special here, no reason for you or me to allow that presence into those hidden areas of our heart. No reason to open oneself up to that reality. That familiarity can have the same effect on you as it did on those handful of people back in Nazareth two millennia ago, don’t let it. They became too familiar with him, at least they though they knew him. Let us encounter the answer to our desire today: God-made-man, fully human, fully God, fully desiring to fulfill the desire of your heart.