From the very moment John the Baptist met Jesus – when a pregnant Mary came to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, John leapt in his mother’s womb with joy – because he knew who Jesus was.
And probably much like our own families – these two cousins, only 6 months a part in age – most likely spent some time together as they both grew in wisdom, age and favor before God.
John the Baptist was of course present at Jesus’ Baptism – as we heard last weekend. So no doubt, John heard the voice which came down from heaven: “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
All these experiences gave John the Baptist the confidence he needed to boldly proclaim today: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
John the Baptist’s whole life – was spent recognizing who Jesus was – and long before any of the Gospels were written – John was the perfect evangelist: pointing others to Jesus Christ.
Now my mother always told me, as I am sure many of your mother’s told you – it is impolite to point at other people in public.
The only exception to that maternal wisdom, I think -- is if we are pointing at Jesus – as did John the Baptist. By our words and by our actions – we should always be good evangelists: pointing others to Jesus.
Certainly not an easy thing to do. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. And sometimes, many times really – it is hard for us to be the evangelists we are called to be – because of the pain and hurt we have suffered in our lives – sometimes at the hand of the very ones we are called to trust – and who should love us the most – family members, clergy, and friends – who abused us by their words and actions --- and did not set a very good example for us to follow.
God knows – that the Church and its leaders have done some terrible things over the years – that have let us down, and who have darn near extinguished the light of Christ we carry within us – and so haven’t made us enthusiastic to do what we are called to do --- which is carrying the Good News of the Gospel to others. . .
You know how I love to read and I enjoy collecting quotes from things I read – because you never know when you’re going to have to say something profound. I recently came across this quote from the Dutch author, Corrie ten Boom:
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark – you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still -- and trust the engineer.”
This coming from a woman who saw the darkest days in the Netherlands during WWII – who saved many Jews from the Holocaust – and then paid the price by spending several years in Ravensbruck concentration camp.
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark – you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still – and trust the engineer.”
Within the Church in general – and at St. Patrick in particular – and perhaps because of circumstances in our own lives --- we have been in a dark tunnel – but as we continue to trust the engineer --- Christ --- whose Church this is after all – it’s time to make our plans for the other side of the tunnel ---
to place ourselves back into the bright light of Christ – to be proud of who we are as Catholics and as the faith community of St. Patrick.
In his vision for the Diocese, Bishop Johnston, described us as One family, who must be restored in Christ – so that we can be equipped for mission.
To be equipped for mission – to be the John the Baptists –the evangelizers we are called to be – pointing to Jesus by our words and actions – we must first be healed and restored in Jesus Christ.
This fall, on October 24 – Bishop Johnston will be here to celebrate a Mass marking our 25th anniversary of being in this Church building.
For some of you – that might be hard to believe – 25 years being in this Church – I was here for the dedication all those years ago . . .
I want that celebration in October to mark for all of us – the time that we come out of our dark tunnel --- it doesn’t mean that we forget the past and all we have been through – and some wounds may never be healed – I will always cringe at the name of Bishop Finn ---- but it can mean that we will no longer let the past determine who we are. From that point on, let’s claim that we are fully in the light of Christ –
and we only look forward to a future full of hope: so that we can be a light to the nations so that Christ’s salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Between now and then – and in particular during the season of Lent – as individuals and as one family of faith of St. Patrick – we must first be healed and restored in Jesus Christ.
I think the most effective way to deal with pain, and hurt, and wounds --- is to name them. We must first diagnose before we treat. By naming our wounds, our hurts, our pain, those things which have broken our hearts -- we claim them – and then we have power over them to call Christ’s healing upon them.
Over the next few weeks – between now and the beginning of Lent actually, there will be tables in the gathering space with these broken hearts on them –
Take some time to write on them what has broken your heart – your wounds, your hurts, your pains. And leave them in the box. Don’t get to specific with names – keep them generis enough – so that we can use some of them for the prayers of the faithful – inviting Christ’s healing power upon them.
Also, the ever capable Fr. Joe Nassal – will be here on March 25 & 26 for a parish mission – and I want to provide him with the list of things that our laying heavy on our hearts – so he can fine-tune his mission toward some of them –
helping us to come out of the darkness into the wonderful light of Christ.
And now just a short memo from our Advent friend: Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God – to the Church of St. Patrick: to you who have been sanctified in Christ – called to be holy – grace to you and peace.
Those who have walked in darkness, have seen a great light. . . And so I challenge you to deal with your pain, and hurt, and wounds – by naming them. And then inviting Christ’s healing power upon them.
You have been in the darkness of a tunnel – and I am sorry you have had to deal with so many things that have hurt you ---
but don’t throw away your ticket and jump off the train or out of the Church – sit still – and trust the engineer – Jesus Christ – whose Church it is after all. . AMEN!
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