April 27, 2008


I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. – John 14: 18

This is quite a promise, & it means something only if Jesus truly is the Son of God & truly risen. It is an integral part of our faith that He keeps that promise. For starters, the Church is still here after 2,000 years despite tempests far stronger & more severe than what we are experiencing now. There is the incarnation, of course, & the New Testament that was formalized only after much debate within the Church. There is the witness of the saints over the centuries. Then there are the sacraments, not the least being the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

Last, & certainly least, there is me. My presence here is evidence that God cares enough about you to get me, with all my faults & flaws, into the priesthood so that I could bring Him to you directly in the sacraments. Why does God go to so much trouble? The only possible answer is a love that exceeds our human understanding of that word. He is trying to give us a vision of what we can be, & that ‘what’ blows our little pea-sized minds.

Yet when all is said & done, it still comes down to this: God never forces Himself upon us, & it is up to us to respond to His initiative. We must hear, we must heed, & we must act on what we have experienced of that love.

There is a story about nine men & one woman who were rescued at sea by a helicopter. While hanging on for dear life from a rope suspended from the helicopter, it became evident that their combined weight was too much & at least one of them would have to let go. When no one volunteered, the woman finally called out, “I’ll jump.” She then gave a touching speech about how women are used to giving up things for their husbands & children. In fact, the speech was so touching that all the men started clapping.

We can do many things with our hands: we can wring them saying, “Woe is me,” or we can fold them saying, “Let George do it,” or we can clasp them in recognition of a noble deed performed by someone else. What Jesus asks of us is to put our hands to work on a noble task. In so doing, we show Him how much we love in return. Yes, it is risky, but risks must be taken because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing. The one who risks nothing, has nothing & becomes nothing. Such a person may avoid difficulties, but he or she cannot learn & grow & enrich life.

There is an episode in which two of our Lord’s disciples begin to follow Him & He turns to them & says, “What do you want?” He asks the same of us. Our answers might cover a wide range of ideas; but however diverse the answers, however long or short, unless the bottom line says simply, “We want to know & do the will of God,” our answer is just so much useless babble.

We hold in our hands the Word of Life every time we receive communion. Is that a matter of casual indifference to us? Not if we also lift those hands in prayer, if we use them for healing, building, comforting & reconciling, if we use them to embrace one another in the Spirit of Christ, or if we use them to lift someone who has fallen, or soothe someone’s pain. AMEN!