As much as Jesus had to leave Nazareth (home and comfort, familiarity and family) to come to the Jordan (last Sunday) to be baptized, the disciples too have got to "leave" in order to "come" (No arrival without a departure). We are used to checking out a product before buying or a person before hiring or we "see" and choose (come). We check it out before stepping out. Abraham and other prophets have to leave for an uncertain task and territory; Abraham must first accept to sacrifice his only son, then he will see God's plan. He didn't doubt in God's promise of progenies like the sands and the stars even though the only son was going to be sacrificed! Joseph had to first accept Mary pregnant as she was and then he will see God's plan. Come so that you may see. Step in, walk in, follow me, leave behind ....so that you may see plans, actions, results for you. "Come" is an invitation and "see" is the promise. You can trust the Lord for his promises.Then the uncertain, doubtful, denying Simons will have to become Cephases and solid rocks on which the Lord can build his Church.
Speak to me, O God: Come and See
I asked a poor man: "Please, speak to me of God.” and the poor man shared his tea with me.
I entreated the house; "Speak to me of God." and the door opened welcoming me.
I asked a child: "Speak to me of God" and the child smiled at me.
I told a farmer: "Speak to me of God.” and the farmer showed me his standing crops.
I begged nature: "Speak to me of God.” and nature decked herself with luscious beauty.
I asked my friend: "Speak to me of God.” and my friend caressed me warmly.
I asked a nightingale: "Speak to me of God.” and she filled the air with silvery tunes.
I asked a soldier: "Speak to me of God.” and in shame, the soldier threw away his weaponry.
I besought a suffering man: "Speak to me of God.” and I saw in his eyes a quivering tear of accepting joy.
I asked a fountain: "Speak to me of God.” and the fountain merrily spilled out its crystal water.
I begged my mother: "Please, speak to me of God. " and she stamped a soothing kiss on my forehead.
I entreated my enemy: "Speak to me of God. " and he, in forgiveness, stretched out his hand to me.
I asked the voice: "Speak to me of God.” but the voice could not find words. It remained silent.
At last, I asked the setting sun: "Speak to me of God.” and the sun mysteriously set down and left me in darkness.
But next day, at dawn, when I opened the window of my room, mischievously with his warmth he kissed me on both my cheeks.
And finally as the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore put in his poem so beautifully and touchingly the Lord comes to knock at our doors, at our hearts, at our lives not only to invite us to share his mission, to wake us up from our slumbers, but also to soothe and comfort us, to wipe away our tears and to sit with us in our losses and grieving.
Every moment and every age,
Every day and every night he comes, comes, ever comes.
Many a song have I sung in many a mood of mind,
but all their notes have always proclaimed,
`He comes, comes, ever comes.'
In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes, comes, ever comes.
In the rainy gloom of July nights on the thundering chariot of clouds he comes, comes, ever comes.
In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart,
and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine.
Many of us have questions that trouble us from time to time and we seek answers to them from significant people in our lives. Of course there are superficial questions and others that sometimes are a matter of life and death. Have we brought our questions to the Lord and have we ever tried to listen to Him as he answers us? Or would we rather not ask him for fear of the answer? For that matter, have we listened to what the Lord is saying to us, asking of us? Could our prayer be: ‘Speak Lord, I’m really listening!’
Have an attentive weekend, listening to Him!
Someone is always listening...
In St. Paul’s Cathedral in London there is a circular gallery where any spoken sound bounces back from the hard smooth stone walls. If you put your ear close to the wall, you can hear what is even whispered on the other side of the wall, many meters away. Many years ago a poor shoemaker whispered to his beloved that he could not marry her because he could not afford to buy any raw material for his work and his business was on the verge of ruin. The poor girl wept as she listened to the sad news. A gentleman on the other side of the gallery more than sixty meters away heard the story and the shoe maker’s whispered prayer, and decided to do something about it. The gentleman followed the shoemaker out of St. Pauls and after finding where he lived, had some leather sent to his shop. Naturally the young man was delighted. He made good use of the gift, and his business prospered and he was able to marry the girl of his heart. It was not until a few years later that he learned the name of his unknown friend. It was Prime Minister William Gladstone of Great Britain.
From –‘The Sunday Liturgy’
The gospel continues the theme of the manifestation or epiphany of Jesus, as John the Baptist points out and directs his own disciples to Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God!” John and Andrew, the disciples with their teacher, John the Baptist, were at the Jordan river, where the people had long ago crossed over into the Promised land. When the disciples heard from John the name of the one passing by –The Lamb of God, they understood enough to follow Jesus. Their decision to leave John and follow Jesus must have been a struggle. They followed Jesus respectfully at a distance behind. Jesus turned and asked what they were looking for. Through history, people have come to Jesus for a variety of reasons. People still come to Jesus for a variety of reasons. Why are we looking for Jesus? What do we want from him? Andrew and John followed Jesus asking where he stayed. They were more than curious, they wanted to know him and were attracted to him. Jesus’ answer was a kind invitation: “Come and see.” The experience of staying with Jesus was so memorable that John even adds the time of the day at which they met Jesus –four in the afternoon. Andrew too was so taken up with the encounter that he could wait to come home and share what he had experienced with his brother Simon. “We have found the Messiah” he said, and took Simon to meet the Lord. Jesus looked hard at Simon and called him by name. “You are Simon son of John; you will be called Cephas-meaning the Rock.” The encounter of Simon changed not only his name but his life.
“What’s your profession?”
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’
I need a person who is on the alert…
Waiting in a steamship office to be interviewed for the job of a wireless operator, a group of applicants filled the room with such a buzz of conversation that they were oblivious to the dots and dashes that began coming over the loudspeaker. About that time another man entered and sat down quietly by himself. Suddenly he snapped to attention, walked into the private office, and a few minutes later came out smiling with the new job. “Say,” one of the group called out, “how did you get in ahead of us? We were here first.” “One of you would have gotten the job,” the successful applicant replied, “if you had listened to the message from the loudspeaker.” “What message?” they asked
Called by name
You may remember the story of Helen of Troy. According to legend this beautiful queen was captured and carried away and became a victim of amnesia. She became a prostitute in the streets. She didn’t know her name or the fact that she came from royal blood. But back in her homeland, friends didn’t give up on her return. An old friend believed she was alive and went to look for her. He never lost faith. One day while wandering through the streets, he came to a waterfront and saw a wretched woman in tattered clothes with deep lines across her face. There was something about her that seemed familiar, so he walked up to her and said, “What is your name?” She gave a name that was meaningless to him. “May I see your hands? He pursued. She held out her hands in front of her, and the young man gasped, “You are Helen! You are Helen! Do you remember? She looked up at him in astonishment. “Helen!” he yelled out. Then the fog seemed to clear. There was recognition in her face. The light came on! She discovered her lost self, put her arms around her friend and wept. She discarded the tattered clothes and once more became the queen she was born to be. -God searches for you in the same way. He calls you by name. He uses every method possible to look for you and try and convince you of your worth to him.
Brian Cavanaugh in ‘The Sower’s Seeds’
An unfamiliar voice
In his sermon, “When God Speaks,” Dr. Keith Wagner says the following: “I am sure that everyone has seen the television commercial about E.F. Hutton. There is always a crowd of people and two people are together when one of them says, “Well my broker is E.F. Hutton and E.F. Hutton says…..” At that point there is a huge hush over the crowd and everyone turns to listen. Then the advertisement concludes with the phrase, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” What about when God speaks? Is anyone listening? Does God have the same credibility that E.F. Hutton has when it comes to important messages? God is actually speaking to us all the time. The problem is that we are not listening. It was the same in Samuel’s time. Samuel was a future leader of the faith community. God needed Samuel to listen. No one else was listening at that time as we hear, “for the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” Is the word of the Lord rare in these times? Or is God not heard because no one is listening? Is it difficult to listen to God in these times simply because there is too much noise? Samuel heard the voice of God , only because he slept near the arc of the covenant. When we are willing to stay close to the church, to ‘hang out’ where the word of God is spoken, we give God an opportunity to speak.
Ken Abraham in ‘Designer Genes’
The Quest for Jesus
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’
Discovering God’s plan for me
1: “Eureka, Eureka.” According to legend, Hieros II (the king of the Greek City State Syracuse on the island of Sicily) asked Archimedes (a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer, (287-212 BC) to find a method for determining whether a crown was made of pure gold or of gold mixed with silver. One day when Archimedes stepped into his bath and noticed that the water rose as he sat down, he ran out of the house naked shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!” (= “I have found it!”) The method to determine whether or not a crown was pure gold, discovered by Archimedes in his bathtub, was to compare its weight to its volume. If one had one pound of gold and one pound of silver and submerged them in water, the silver would make the water rise higher than the gold, because it is less dense than gold, and therefore, larger in volume, it takes up more space by displacing more water. Archimedes compared the volume of water displaced by the suspect crown with that displaced by a pure gold crown of equal weight to identify successfully the pure gold crown. Archimedes did not “find” this truth by searching after it — although he might have spent days thinking about a solution to the problem. His “find” came as an unexpected surprise. He had probably noticed the water in the bathtub rising hundreds of times before, but its significance didn’t “click” in his brain until that “eureka” moment. Today’s Gospel describes how John discovered Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” and how Andrew, Simon, and Nathaniel discovered him as the “Promised Messiah” quite unexpectedly. Jesus was their “Eureka.” Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 2: A lamb on the roof: In the city of Werden, Germany, there stands a Catholic Church with a lamb carved out of stone and placed on its roof. It was said that when the Church was being built, a stone-carving mason fell from a high scaffold. His co-workers rushed down, expecting to find him dead. But to their surprise and joy, he was alive and only slightly injured. How did he survive? A flock of sheep was passing beneath the tower at that time, and he landed on top of a lamb. The lamb broke his fall and was crushed to death, but the man was saved. To commemorate that miraculous escape, he carved a lamb in stone and placed it on the tower, in gratitude for the lamb that saved his life. Today we are here at this Liturgy to remember and salute another Lamb Who died a cruel death to save not just one man, but all mankind. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist introduces Jesus as the “Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” Peter said that the full weight of our sins fell upon Jesus (1 Pet. 2:24). And the apostle Paul explained, “For our sake [God] made [His Son Incarnate] to be sin who did not know sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in [Jesus]” (2 Cor. 5:21). We all have fallen in sin, but on the cross Jesus took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. He now offers eternal life to all who personally put their Faith in Him (Jn. 3:1-16). (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3) “I asked 300,000 to support me, but only 140 to affirm Jesus.” Former President Jimmy Carter is not shy about sharing the Faith. He and wife Rosalynn have been on numerous Faith-sharing missions in America and overseas. In his book Living Faith, Jimmy Carter recounts a humbling experience. He says that when he was preparing to run for governor a second time, he was invited to speak to a Christian men’s group about his activities as a Christian witness. In preparation for that talk, he took account of the witnessing he had done. He added up the times when he had shared the faith with other people, one-on-one, and they had made commitments to Christ. The total number came to 140. But then, said Carter, “The Lord must have been looking over my shoulder because immediately I remembered my 1966 political campaign when Rosalynn and I had traveled the state and had shaken hands with 300,000 Georgians, extolling my good points, and asking them to vote for me. I had asked 300,000 to support me, but only 140 to affirm Jesus. The terrible difference in those numbers brought me to my knees.” Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4. A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in Church on vocation to priesthood and religious life. Suddenly the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. Tugging his father’s sleeve, he said, “Daddy, when the light turns green can we go home?”
5. A Catholic boy and a Jewish boy were talking, and the Catholic boy said, “My priest knows more than your rabbi.” The Jewish boy said, “Of course he does! That is because you tell him everything in confession.”
6. The son-in-law’s testimony: A rich Jewish businessman named Raymond went to meet Ben, his new son-in-law to be. He said to Ben, “So, tell me, Ben, my boy, what you do?” “I study the Theology,” Ben replied. “But Ben, you are going to marry my daughter! How are you going to feed and house her?” “No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” “But you will have children; how will you educate them?” asked Raymond. “No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” When Raymond returned home, his wife anxiously asked him what Ben was like. “Well,” said Raymond, “he’s a lovely boy. I only just met him, and he already thinks I’m God.” (Source: Jewish Jokes)
7. Worse pastors: At morning Mass, the pastor announced to the congregation that the bishop had just appointed him to another parish. After the Mass, a woman came up to him and expressed her dismay at his leaving. “Oh, I’m sure the bishop will send you someone who’s far better than I am,” The pastor tried to console her. “No,” the woman replied, “that won’t happen, and that can’t happen.” “Why not?” asked the priest, unable to resist the temptation to hear a compliment in the superlative about himself. “Because,” the woman said, “I’ve seen five pastors now in this parish, and each new pastor was worse than the last.”
23- Additional anecdotes
1) “Evangelism – Andrew style”: Shaquille O’Neal played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers. He loved coming up with nicknames for himself. When he received his first Most Valuable Player award, Shaq gave himself a new nickname. He said, “From this day on I want to be known as ‘The Big Apostle’ because Aristotle once said that excellence is not a singular act; it is a habit – you are what you repeatedly do.” Shaq was right… and Aristotle was right. Excellence is not one single act. It is found in what we repeatedly do well… and here is where we see the excellence of Andrew. He repeatedly introduced people to Jesus. He repeatedly brought people into the presence of Jesus. He repeatedly included people in the circle of his love and Christ’s love. This was the greatness of Andrew. Today’s Gospel challenges us to bring our friends to Christ. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) “Evangelization – St. Francis of Assisi style”: One day, Francis of Assisi invited one of the young friars to join him on a trip into town to preach. The young friar was so honored at receiving such an invitation from St. Francis that he quickly accepted. They paused beneath a tree and Francis stooped to return a young bird to its nest. They went on and stopped in a field crowded with reapers and Francis bent his back to help load the hay onto a cart. From there they went to the town square where Francis lifted a bucket of water from the well for an old woman and carried it home for her. All day long he and St. Francis walked through the streets and byways, alleys and, suburbs, and they rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. Each time they stopped, the young friar was sure that St. Francis would stop and preach. But no words of great truth or wise discourse issued from the saint’s mouth. Finally, they went into the Church, but Francis only knelt silently to pray. At the end of the day, the two headed back home. Not once had St. Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the Gospel. The young monk was greatly disappointed, and he said to St. Francis, “I thought we were going into town to preach?” St. Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking and in everything we did. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It’s of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk! Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words only if necessary.” Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3) The be-all and end-all of a dog’s life: In the book, No Bad Dogs, British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse says dogs understand love better than we do. She writes, “In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love, honor, and obey is an absolute necessity. Love is dormant in the dog until brought into full bloom by an understanding owner. Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic wagging of the tail and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is not enough. The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake, and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That shows that the dog loves only its home comforts and the attention it gets from its family; it doesn’t truly love the master or mistress as they fondly think. True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner. For the owner must be the be-all and end-all of a dog’s life.” The real meaning of our Divine call and the test of our walk of Faith is not to be seen in our work or activity, or even in our theological purity. It is found in our desire to remain with God. This is the essence of our call to Christian discipleship as shown by Andrew and the other disciples described in today’s Gospel. It means that when we have an opportunity to wander away, to disobey, to leave His presence, we choose instead to stay close to Him, to abide in Christ, and to obey Him. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4) “Operation Andrew.” Popular talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey has lots of influence. She has 15 to 20 million daily viewers. Evidently, she has the power to create a best-seller. Since she has started recommending books on her show, sales of the titles chosen have skyrocketed. For example, the first book she recommended, a novel entitled The Deep End of the Ocean, had only sold about 100,000 copies. After being featured on her program, the book sold 850,000 copies propelling it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Though none of us has the influence of an Oprah Winfrey, each of us has influence with some people. My big question today is this – Are you using your influence for Jesus Christ? Are you commending him openly, by word and deed, when you have opportunities? Have you ever introduced another person to Jesus Christ, and helped him or her claim Christ as Savior and Lord? If not, why not? Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) “Come and see:” George Barna, in his book Marketing the Church, writes: “The most effective means of getting people to experience what a Church has to offer is having someone they know who belongs to the Church simply invite them to try it. Call it whatever you wish – word-of-mouth, personal invitation, friendship, evangelism – this is indisputably the most effective means of increasing the church rolls.” [George Barna, Marketing the Church (NavPress, Colorado Springs, 1988), p. 109.] I don’t want to bore you with statistics, but these are not boring statistics. There are 160 million Americans who are unchurched. If invited to attend Church, 31% said they would be very likely to come – 51% said they would be somewhat likely to come. That means 82% of the people who do not go to Church in America are likely to attend if they are invited – Only 21% of active Church goers ever invite anyone to Church. Only 2% of active Church-goers invite the unchurched. Do you know what Jesus needs more than anything else? He needs more fishing buddies. Do you know what fishing buddies need? They need a Church that will be fish friendly. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6) “Come and see.” There’s a beautiful instance of Jesus’ inviting style in the book, The Horse and his Boy (p. 79), one of C. S. Lewis’ stories of Narnia. Aslan, the great lion, is the Christ-figure in those stories. The lad Shasta is walking on a steep mountain pass in the middle of a dense night fog. He senses a huge presence walking beside him. Shasta finally gets the courage to whisper out, “Who are you?” The resonant golden voice of Asian answers, “One who has waited long for you to speak.” That’s Jesus’ style: “Come and see,” he invites us. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
7) “We are a family, so love each other, help each other, support each other.” Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski wrote a book called Leading with the Heart. Coach K was the highly successful basketball coach at Duke University, who led his team to back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992, and to eight Final Four appearances, beginning in 1986. In his book, Coach K speaks out of his own experiences of what he has learned about leadership in basketball, business, and life. His philosophy at Duke is very simple, but very profound. In essence, he says to his team: “We are a family, so love each other, help each other, support each other. We are a family, so use plural pronouns. It’s not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘us’ and what we can do together… so don’t do anything detrimental to our family.” If two freshmen oversleep and miss the team bus… he doesn’t just deal with the two freshmen, he deals with the whole team. “Why didn’t someone miss them? Why didn’t someone check on them? Why didn’t someone wake them up? If one of us is late, all of us are late! What happens to one of us… it happens to all of us… because we are a family.” Isn’t that a great philosophy for a basketball team… and a Church? We learn it from Andrew! It is our responsibility, our privilege, our joy, to bring our brothers and our sisters into the presence of Christ. That’s number one… Andrew brought his brother. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
8) “Evangelism –Jesus’ Style”: In a book entitled, The View From a Hearse, Joe Bayly, who lost three of his children, tells this story. He was sitting, torn by grief, over his wrenching loss. Someone came and talked to him about God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave, the fellow talked constantly, saying things that Bayly knew were true. But Bayly said, “I was unmoved, except to wish he would go away. He finally did.” Then said Bayly, “Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask me leading questions. He sat beside me for an hour or more, listened when I said some thing, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved, I was comforted. I hated to see him go.” (Charles Swindoll in Killing Giants and Pulling Thorns, p. 39). Most people don’t need advice from us — they get plenty of that. They don’t need us to preach to them, or to argue with them, or try to convince them of some theological proof. Most people don’t need advice from us – they need love — and isn’t that the Gospel? Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
9) “I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.” Chuck Swindoll, in his book, Killing Giants and Pulling Thorns, tells about a little girl who “lost a playmate in death and one day reported to her family that she had gone to comfort the sorrowing mother. ‘What did you say?’ asked her father. ‘Nothing,’ she replied. ‘I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.’ [Charles R. Swindoll, Killing Giants and Pulling Thorns (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, l979), pp. 39-40.] That little girl had the right idea — be a caring person who majors in encouragement. Lonely, hurting, suffering people need a friend who cares. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
10) Redhead got the job: A company advertised an opening in its sales force. It received more than 1000 applications for the job. But of those many letters and resumes, one letter stood out: “I am presently selling furniture at the address below. You may judge my ability as a salesman if you will stop in to see me any time, pretending that you are interested in buying furniture. When you come in, you can identify me by my red hair. I will have no way of identifying you. That way, the sales abilities I exhibit will be no more than my usual everyday approach and not a special effort to impress a potential employer.” The sales manager took the applicant up on his challenge and visited the furniture store. You won’t be surprised to learn that the redhead got the job. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ criteria for the selection of his apostles were different. He chose the weak and the least qualified and made them his strong and powerful witnesses. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
11) “We are here to help each other. That’s what it’s all about.” Some years ago, a fifth grade school teacher named Diane Williams had a dramatic experience while sky-diving. Skydiving was one of her hobbies. One Saturday morning, she met her sky-diving group for a jump, but this day was different from all the rest. Apparently, Diane was trying to join three other divers in a hand-holding formation when she accidentally slammed into the backpack of another skydiver and she was knocked unconscious. This caused her to hurtle head over heels like a rag doll toward the ground at a speed of 150 miles per hour. Fellow skydiver, Gregory Robertson, saw that Diane was in big trouble. Immediately, he straightened himself into a vertical dart, arms pinned to his body, ankles crossed, head aimed at the ground in what parachutists call a no list dive. In effect, he became a human dive bomber plummeting toward the earth and Diane at 200 miles per hour. At 3500 feet, about ten seconds from impact, Gregory caught up with Diane. He managed to pull the rip cord on her emergency chute, as well as his own… and they both floated safely to the ground. Greg’s heroic efforts saved Diane’s life. When asked later about his incredible feat, he said simply, “We are here to help each other. That’s what it’s all about.” He paused for a moment, and then he said, “Someone tried to die in my drop-zone this morning. No one dies in my drop-zone!” I suppose at that moment somewhere in Heaven God was smiling… because nothing pleases God more than to see us helping and serving one another, our sisters and brothers, in unselfish, sacrificial, self-giving ways. Andrew found the Christ… and immediately ran to get his brother. This is a beautiful mountain-peak moment in the Bible. He brought his brother into the presence of Christ. Andrew’s simple, thoughtful act of sharing with his brother is a poignant reminder to us that we in the world are not isolated individuals just existing alongside each other, selfishly hoarding whatever we can accumulate. No, we are family… and life is better when we act like a family… loving each other, supporting each other, helping each other, respecting each other, treasuring each other… and, like Andrew, bringing each other into the presence of Christ and the circle of Christ’s love. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
12) “The Praying Hands” by Albrecht Durer: We are incredibly indebted to Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, for the gift of Peter to the Church and to the world. Andrew was the one who brought his brother, Simon Peter, into the presence of Jesus. Andrew was the one who encouraged Simon Peter. Andrew was the one who presented Peter to Jesus. It’s recorded in the first chapter of John’s Gospel. Andrew, finding the Messiah, immediately brings Simon to Him. Back in the 15th century in a tiny village near Nuremberg, Germany there lived a family with eighteen children. That’s right… eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this large family, the father (who was a goldsmith by profession), worked almost eighteen hours a day at this trade and any other paying job he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of the older children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father, with all that he had on him, would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Art Academy there. After much discussion, the two boys finally worked out a plan. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the Art Academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies in four years, he would in turn support the other brother at the academy either with sales of his artwork, or, if necessary, also by working in the mines. So, one Sunday morning after Church, they tossed a coin. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg to study art. His brother, Albert, went down into the dangerous mines and for the next four years, financed his brother whose work at the Art Academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht Durer’s etchings, his woodworks, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works. When the young artist returned home to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht’s triumphant homecoming. After a delightful meal with lots of music and laughter, Albrecht Durer rose from his honored position at the head of the table to express his deep appreciation to his beloved brother, Albert, for the years of sacrifice he had put in that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were: “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream and I will take care of you.” All heads turned in love and eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat. Tears were streaming down his face. Slowly, Albert stood to his feet and softly he said, “Thank you, my brother, but no, I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look, look what four years in the mine have done to my hands. The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately, I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less, make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, my brother, for me it is too late.”
More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer’s works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office. One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands”, but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to this great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love, “The Praying Hands.” The next time you see a copy of this touching creation, take a second look; let it be a reminder that no one– no one — ever makes it alone! Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
13) “Come and see.” Two men, who had been business partners for over twenty years, met one Sunday morning as they were leaving a restaurant. One of them asked, “Where are you going this morning?” “I’m going to play golf. What about you?” The first man responded rather apologetically, “I’m going to Church.” The other man said, “Why don’t you give up that Church stuff?” The first man asked, “What do you mean?” His partner said: “Well, we have been partners for twenty years. We have worked together, attended board meetings together, and had lunch together, and all of these twenty years you have never asked me about going to Church. You have never invited me to go with you. Obviously, it doesn’t mean that much to you.” (John A. Stroman, God’s Downward Mobility, CSS Publishing Company) Don’t get yourself in that fix. Don’t let others think your Faith doesn’t matter that much to you. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
14) Gone With the Wind. I imagine most of you have seen the film, Gone With the Wind. If not, you have a treat waiting for you. It is interesting how Director David O. Selznick chose the leading lady. Everyone knew that no one but Clark Gable could be Rhett Butler, but who should play Scarlett O’Hara? David Selznick considered a few dozen actresses for the role of the Southern belle. Finally, he made a surprising selection: not a girl born in the South or even in America, she had been born in India of British parents. Her name was Vivien Leigh. Almost everyone agrees that she played a superb, unforgettable Scarlett O’Hara. David Selznick took great care in picking just the right person for that famous role. Similarly, but with infinitely greater care, God selects us for a part in the Divine drama. We see it today in the call of the prophet, Samuel. Bottom line: Like a great director, selecting exactly the right person for a part, God chooses you or me! (Fr. Phil Bloom). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
15) Someone is always listening: In St. Paul’s Cathedral in London there is a circular gallery where any spoken sound bounces back from the hard smooth stone walls. If you put your ear close to the wall, you can hear what is even whispered on the other side of the wall, many meters away. Many years ago a poor shoemaker whispered to his beloved that he could not marry her because he could not afford to buy any raw material for his work and his business was on the verge of ruin. The poor girl wept as she listened to the sad news. A gentleman on the other side of the gallery more than sixty meters away heard the story and the shoemaker’s whispered prayer and decided to do something about it. The gentleman followed the shoemaker out of St. Paul’s and after finding where he lived, had some leather sent to his shop. Naturally the young man was delighted. He made good use of the gift, and his business prospered, and he was able to marry the girl of his heart. It was not until a few years later that he learned the name of his unknown friend. It was Prime Minister William Gladstone of Great Britain. Today’s Gospel tells us that God is calling each one of us giving him or her a unique mission. Do you listen to God’s call? (From The Sunday Liturgy; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) “What’s your profession?” A stranger once asked a teacher, “What’s your profession?” The teacher replied, “Christian,” The stranger continued, “No, that’s not what I mean. What’s your job?” The teacher asserted, once again, “I’m a Christian!” Puzzled, the stranger clarified, “Perhaps I should ask, what you do for a living?” The teacher replied, “Well, I’ve a full-time job as a Christian. But, to support my sick husband and children, I teach in a school.” That teacher had certainly understood the meaning of discipleship summarized by today’s Responsorial Psalm (40): “Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will.” (Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
17) “I need a person who is on the alert!”: Waiting in a steamship office to be interviewed for the job of a wireless operator, a group of applicants filled the room with such a buzz of conversation that they were oblivious to the dots and dashes that began coming over the loudspeaker. About that time another man entered and sat down quietly by himself. Suddenly he snapped to attention, walked into the private office, and a few minutes later came out smiling with the new job. “Say,” one of the group called out, “how did you get in ahead of us? We were here first.” “One of you would have gotten the job,” the successful applicant replied, “if you had listened to the message from the loudspeaker.” “What message?” they asked. — Do we listen to God? (Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
18) Called by name: You may remember the story of Helen of Troy. According to legend this beautiful queen was captured and carried away and became a victim of amnesia. She became a prostitute in the streets. She didn’t know her name or the fact that she came from royal blood. But back in her homeland, friends didn’t give up on her return. An old friend believed she was alive and went to look for her. He never lost faith. One day while wandering through the streets, he came to a waterfront and saw a wretched woman in tattered clothes with deep lines across her face. There was something about her that seemed familiar, so he walked up to her and said, “What is your name?” She gave a name that was meaningless to him. “May I see your hands? He pursued. She held out her hands in front of her, and the young man gasped, “You are Helen! You are Helen! Do you remember? She looked up at him in astonishment. “Helen!” he yelled out. Then the fog seemed to clear. There was recognition in her face. The light came on! She discovered her lost self, put her arms around her friend and wept. She discarded the tattered clothes and once more became the queen she was born to be. –God searches for you in the same way. He calls you by name. He uses every method possible to look for you and try and convince you of your worth to him. (Brian Cavanaugh in The Sower’s Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) “Follow me!” Albert Schweitzer was a concert pianist in Europe who gave up his career in music to become a doctor and work as a missionary in Africa. Albert Schweitzer writes in his book The Quest for the Historical Jesus, “Jesus comes to us as one unknown, as he did long ago to the apostles on the seashore. He speaks to us the same words that he spoke to them: ‘Follow me!’ And to those who accept his invitation, whether they be wise or simple, young or old, he will reveal himself to them in their toils and sufferings. And they shall learn through their own experiences who he is.”
(Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
20) “Discovering God’s plan for me”: Coach Grant Teaff of Baylor University in Texas has written a book called I Believe. In it he describes an incident that happened earlier in his career at McMurry College. One Saturday night, he and his team had taken off in a chartered plane to return to Texas. Suddenly the plane developed serious trouble. The pilot announced that he would attempt a crash landing. The plane was loaded with fuel, so an explosion was likely. As the plane sped downwards one of the players called out, “Coach Teaff would you lead us in prayer? We’re all pretty frightened.” Teaff prayed aloud for everyone. Seconds later the plane bellied across the ground. A shower of sparks engulfed it. Miraculously, however, it didn’t explode and no one was hurt. The next night Teaff and his family were in the Church together. Right in the middle of the services Teaff got up and left the church and went to the McMurry Fieldhouse about a mile away. He went directly to the team’s dressing room and knelt down and prayed: “God, I know You have a plan, a purpose, and a will for my life and the lives of these young men. I do not know what it is but I’ll…. try to impress upon the young men I coach this year and forever that there is more to life than playing football; that You do have a purpose for our lives.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
21) St. Marcellus’s sleepless search for God: Saints are the ones who discovered the true value of this intimate, personal relationship, and refused to compromise it. St Marcellus [march-EHL-oose] the Righteous is a prime example. He came from a good family in Syria and lived in the 400s. He received a good education, and reached adulthood with a bright future. Then his parents died, and he inherited their considerable fortune. He had to decide what to do with it. Most people wouldn’t think twice! They would simply enjoy it. But Marcellus was a man of reflection, and he detected something unsatisfying about an existence dedicated unthinkingly to the affairs and enjoyments of the world. He thought: “If everything in this world is going to pass away, myself included what’s the point?” As he prayed and studied the Faith in order to work through this dilemma, the following analogy came to him. Little kids make a big deal out of their toys, but adults recognize the paltriness of toys. They, instead, make a big deal out of money, success, and pleasure. But, reasoned Marcellus, what do such things look like from God’s perspective if not foolish toys? And so, in pursuit of lasting values, he moved to Ephesus (in modern day Turkey) and put himself under the direction of some well-known Christians. He grew in holiness and wisdom, and eventually became the revered abbot of a gigantic monastery near Constantinople and an influential adviser to emperors, bishops, and Church councils. In his monastery, the monks were divided into many different small choirs, so that at every hour of the day and night, at least one choir could be singing God’s praise. For this reason, the monastery was called “Akimetes” [ah-KEY-meh-tehz], which meant “sleepless.” It was a living testimony to the source of life’s true meaning: an ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (E-Priest) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
22) A Quiet Nun Is Heard around the World: St. Catherine Laboure is an example showing that God likes to use messengers, especially messengers who stay focused on the message. St Catherine was born to a large family in central France in the 1800s. When her mother died and her older sister entered the convent, she took over the housekeeping responsibilities for her father, until she too felt a call to the religious life. She joined the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in Paris, where she was graced with a series of visions in which the Blessed Virgin Mary asked her to have a medal struck for the benefit of the faithful throughout the world. The medal was later known as the “miraculous medal” because of its origin in these miraculous visions. The Blessed Virgin explained in detail everything that was to appear on the medal. St Catherine confided the Heavenly task to her confessor, who went and carried it out. But Catherine made him promise not to reveal her identity. She herself didn’t mention the visions to anyone else. And she was persistently unwilling to appear before ecclesiastical authorities, even when the bishop of Paris was questioning the authenticity of the visions. A first batch of medals was eventually made, and since then it has become a sign of hope and Faith for millions of Catholics throughout the entire world. (E-Priest). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3. Come and see the heavens opened.
Harding said that King's detractors like to point out that he was a human being, that he had faults, human foibles. He was certainly not a saint, Harding points out. He made mistakes in judgment. He put his marriage to the test. He also suffered from human frailties, like anxiety and depression.
He comes to us as he came to his disciples, and says to us, "Follow me." To "follow me" means, identifying with the poor and the oppressed, loving the sinner, and living sacrificially for others in this world, taking up your cross. That is the sole qualification for everybody to be his disciple - that you will take up your cross.
Martin Luther King understood that, I think, probably better than anybody else in our time. Like all historical figures, he will be interpreted from different perspectives. But the way he would want to be interpreted is that he was a "servant of Christ."
Paul E. Flesner,
Fairy tales are stories of transformation, and that's what happened to these simple people we call the disciples. If you took the disciples and brought them all together into one room, you would never in your wildest imagination guess by looking at them that this weak-looking pack of ordinary folks could change the world. But they did. The disciples changed the world because it was to them that the secret of the universe was first revealed.
Fred Everybody, Thomas Somebody, Peter Anybody, and Joe Nobody were neighbors, but not the type that most would want to know. They were odd people, troublesome, and difficult to understand. The way they lived their lives was a shame. These men all went to the same church, but most would not have wanted them as parishioners. Everybody went fishing on Sundays or stayed home and spoke with his friends. Anybody wanted to worship, but he was afraid that Somebody would speak with him. Thus, guess who went to church - that's right, Nobody. Actually, Nobody was the only decent one of the lot. Nobody did the parish census; Nobody joined the parish council. One day there was a call in the bulletin for people to apply for a position as a teacher in the religious education program. Everybody thought Anybody would apply; Anybody thought Somebody would apply. So, guess who applied? You are right - Nobody! My friends, let's not be an everybody, somebody, or anybody. Rather, let us truly strive to be a nobody. In such a way we empty ourselves so we can be filled with the amazing power of Christ, who died to set us free and, thus, will always be our brother, friend, and Lord.
I remember a story about a woman who brought home a plaque that said, "Prayer changes things." She put it in her kitchen, above her sink. Her husband came home, and said, "Take that down, please." She said, "Why? Don't you believe in prayer?" He said, "Yes, but I don't believe in change."
That is the problem with big, establishment-type institutions. But recently there has been, in fact, a rush to change, almost a panic on the part of some churches. There have been some changes around here, too. I hope that you have noticed that. There will be more. But change should be determined by what our mission is. Mission is what ought to drive the change. We should not do things because other churches do them, not even if they are successful in other churches. Change should come only to enhance our mission.
A few years ago a church located in a large city decided to turn its gymnasium into a night shelter for homeless people. Every winter there were reports that some of these people, condemned to sleep out in the open, had frozen to death, and so the church made the warmth and safety of its building available without charge. Each evening during the winter, volunteers from the church would spend the night in the shelter, providing food, clothing, and lodging for as many of the homeless as the building would hold. Almost without exception, the volunteers reported that the experience of spending the night with these people from the streets had been far more than an act of dutiful charity. The volunteers had found their own faith strengthened, their own reliance upon the grace of Christ reinforced by the experience.
Thomas G. Long,
The Man with Two Umbrellas
Now, let me close with the story of the man with two umbrellas. Dr. Gordon Targerson, a Baptist pastor in Worcester, Massachusetts, was crossing the Atlantic by ship some years ago. He noticed on several occasions a dark-skinned man sitting in a deck chair reading a Bible. One day Dr. Targerson sat down beside him and said, "Forgive my curiosity. I'm a Baptist minister. I notice you are a faithful Bible reader. I'd like to meet you." After introductions, the dark-skinned man said, "I am Filipino. I was born into a good Catholic home. I went to the United States as a young man to study in one of your fine universities, intending to become a lawyer. On my first day on campus, a student dropped by to visit. He welcomed me and offered to help in any way he could. Then he asked me where I went to church. I told him I was Catholic. He explained that the Catholic church was quite a distance away, but he sat down and drew me a map. I thanked him and he left.
"As we walked along I asked him about his church. He said that his church was just around the corner. So, I suggested that we go to his church this Sunday, and then to mine the following Sunday. He agreed…
However, somehow I felt so much at home in his church that I never got around to finding mine. After four years, I felt that Almighty God was leading me into the ordained ministry; rather than, the law! I went to Drew University Seminary and was ordained a Methodist minister. Then, I returned to the Philippines to serve in a Methodist parish. My name is Valencius - Bishop Valencius - Bishop of the Methodist Church in the Philippines."
As I start to take my seat, now, understand that the hero of that story is not the Methodist Bishop - important as he is - the hero is that anonymous young man with "Twin Umbrellas!" Whether they had ended up in the Methodist or the Catholic Church didn’t really matter! Go all the way back to the beginning of Christian and church history - and, you will find that unamed woman or man with "Twin Umbrellas" behind almost every Christian convert - that person with a winsome faith who builds a bridge of friendship with another person - and, across that bridge walks a "Living Christ" who claims another soul as His own!
Finally, as I sit down, know that you too can be that person with "Twin Umbrellas" - you can be like Andrew - you can be like Philip - you can tell someone else to "come and see" - just come and see - that is all that I ask - and, my brothers and sisters, you will learn that something
Nathanael learned this. He was skeptical at first but he was transformed. He became a follower because Phillip invited him.
Let me ask you: What was it that Phillip saw in Christ that moved him to follow, that stirred him so to invite his friend Nathanael. Come and see what? What did Phillip see in Jesus of Nazareth? I want to attempt to answer that question this morning. Come and see what?