Father Don’s Homily for 3/18/18
How many times have you heard that we are to follow Jesus’ teachings? As committed Christians, your and my answer to that question is likely many, many times. Without question that is to be our goal but I believe a more definitive question to ask is, are we willing to live and love as Jesus did? It takes a bit more thought before giving an answer to a question like that.
And a logical follow-up question is, are we equipped to do that? We have many of the tools that Jesus had like the fact that God has blessed us with the new covenant where God has written his laws on our minds and hearts and no longer do we need to teach one another to obey God and that God will forget all the evil things we have done. In addition Scripture tells us that God is always there for us, loving us as his children and is willing to forgive us anytime we sincerely ask him to. Jesus did a great job summarizing the important things in the Jewish Scriptures, the Old Testament and he lived what he taught.
Like each of us, Jesus was human and as a human, there were times when he complained to God as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews when Jesus, “begged God with loud crying and tears to save him.” We don’t know how many times Jesus did that, but Scripture tells us that at the “agony in the garden”, Jesus cried to the point of sweating blood for God to take the sufferings, he foresaw he was about to endure and he added, “Father, not my will but your will be done.” We are called to do the same thing by crying out to God to take away the trials or sufferings we are going through, the crosses we are experiencing but do as Jesus did and to say as when we pray the Our Father, “Your will be done” and just like Jesus, have confidence and trust that God will provide all we need and that he will never give us more than we can endure with his help. We give glory to God by accepting the crosses which God allows to come into our lives, just as Jesus did.
Another way we can do what Jesus did is to spend a good portion of our life for others which will provide true satisfaction both here and hereafter. Essentially dying to ourselves and spending our lives for others. God doesn’t require that all of us preach to the multitude but we can, just as Jesus did, work to draw individuals to a closer relationship with God by the way we live.
The Gospels include many stories of Jesus doing that like when the rich man approached Jesus and asked what he could do to have eternal life in addition to following the Commandments and the laws of the Jewish faith, which he felt he was already doing. Jesus, seeing that the man highly valued his riches and his rich living, virtually having them as his God. Jesus told him that he needed to sell everything he had, give the money to the poor and follow him, essentially become his disciple. The man wasn’t willing to do that.
Another individual Jesus worked with one-on-one was the Samaritan woman at the well who Jesus told her that he knew she was married 7 times and was now living with an eighth man and he told her that she should sin no more. She accepted that and went away and reportedly became one of his disciples.
So, we can see, that try as Jesus did, he wasn’t always successful in drawing people to himself. Even if we do as Jesus did, spending a good portion of our lives for others, working to draw people to a closer relationship with God, we as well, won’t always be successful but we can make a difference for some.
I read a story some time back which was entitled, “The Star Thrower” which is a classic story of the power within each of us to make a difference in the lives of others. The story goes: One day a man was walking along a beach and noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. The man asked the boy, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going down. If I don’t throw them back, they will die.” The man said, “Son, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference.” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the surf. Then smiling at the man, he said, “See? I made a difference for that one.”
By following just a couple things Jesus did in his life, by being willing to cry to God, trusting him and spending a good portion of our lives for others, we can make a difference in both our lives and we can make a difference in the lives of other individuals, just as Jesus did.