To watch Deacon Andy’s homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE!
To listen to Fr. Joe’s homily for the Second Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE!
During the past two weeks, I am sure we have all heard about and/or watched a bit of the Olympics originating from South Korea. And one of the repeating pictures of the Olympics is the joy of winning a gold medal.
A picture that seemed to be amplified here in the United States, when the USA Women’s Hockey team won the gold medal. (A win that came in a shootout, after several periods of the USA team – to put it nicely – not looking too good).
And to go back a few years to 1980 – you may have heard or even attended the 1980 Olympics just up the road from here in Lake Placid and may have heard the famous quote that came out of the mouth of Al Michaels. With five seconds to go in the USA Men’s Hockey game, “Do you believe in miracles?” as a USA team made up of 21 year old amateurs, beat the seemingly unbeatable Russians 4-2. This was after being beat themselves in a NYC exhibition game 10-3 by the Russians just 3 days before the Olympics.
Oh, and this victory was not for the gold medal. There was one last “Finnish – ing” touch – a victory 2 days later as the US beat Finland…
Here’s an interesting behind the scenes point to the 1980 Olympics. Before the gold medal game, USA hockey coach, Herb Brooks, who usually had a speech mapped out for the team, walked in and said to the team, “If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your graves.” And he walked to the door and said, “Your [expletive] graves.”
One of the USA team members shared some time later, “I remember sitting there thinking, ‘My God, I’m going to be 40 years old some day and telling somebody we were this close.’ That was a horrendous thought.”
And of course the chant that seems to go with any USA win is a loud and repeating: USA, USA…
And we should be proud to be Americans… people of the USA. And so should other people from other nations be proud to be a citizen of their country….
But as the most recent “Miracle on Ice” happened this past week with the gold medal by the USA Women’s Hockey Team, it got me thinking:
- How proud are we as Catholics?
- How proud are we with the gift of faith?
- How proud are we to have the opportunity to live our Catholic faith?
- How proud are we to invite others to join us a people of faith?
Many years ago in the mid 1970’s, the true story was shared about Bob and Dolores Hope having dinner with Bishop Hubbard. Bob Hope was in town for a show at the Latham Starlight Theater. At dinner, Dolores Hope went on and on and on about how wonderful it was to be Catholic. To which Bishop Hubbard eventually quipped, “Yes, I know, I’m Catholic too.”
As a person and family, who knows that we are Catholic? Who should know that we are Catholic? Catholic not because we say so; Catholic because we are so and Catholic because we live so…
The first reading today about Abraham is not about Isaiah, but rather a test of faith; faith in God (a test Abraham passed with flying colors).
To use the words of Al Michaels: Do you believe?
May our lives of faith at home, school, work, parish, and community and beyond speak volumes about what we believe as we take the next step today, tomorrow, this week in being the faithful Disciples of God that we are all called to be in our daily living.
As I reflected upon today’s Scripture Readings, there was a phrase in the First Reading that got my attention and got me thinking about words or phrases that begin with “BE”… For example:
- Be strong
- Be bold
- Be a leader
- Be good
- Be home early
- Be attentive
- Be careful
- Be polite
- Be thankful
- Be on time
- Be aware
- Be a friend
- Be helpful
- Be quiet
- Be respectful
- Be that as it may
- Be a man
- Be prepared
- Be my guest
So, what was the phrase in the Genesis Reading… It was the Lord saying to Abram, “I will make your name great so that you will be a blessing…”
You know folks, our God has a plan for us, as St. Paul reminds us, “to live a holy life.”
The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, toward the end of his career, was asked by reporter, “of your many beautiful designs for buildings, homes and other magnificent structures, which one is your favorite?”
Without missing a beat, Frank Lloyd Wright answered, “my next one.”
Frank Lloyd Wright understood the principle of stretching, constantly pressing forward.
As we know many people are living far below their potential. We all have gifts and talents, and so much more going for us. But, many people have gotten comfortable, settled where they are, and become too easily satisfied.
God has more for us. God wants us to go further.
Who is it, that GOD, wants us to be???
The Lenten Season (this Lenten Season) is a great time to not only reflect upon what type of person God wants us to be… but to begin to live that way.
40 Days of Lent… Time to ask how is my life in sync with that of Jesus and the Gospel. Time to live, more so, our Baptismal call to love God and others, and be faithful disciples. Time to be a blessing to others, to everyone.
A few days ago, in one of Matt Kelly’s Lenten video reflections he mentioned how “we all have burdens, hardships we are bearing” and often we do not know “what the other person is up against.” Just maybe we are a blessing when we give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when the encounter is anything thing but amiable.
At the gym Friday, on Headline News, they shared a story of a young girl who gave dolls that are bald to children who are undergoing cancer treatments. I would call that a blessing.
Being a bit more conscious of our daily words and actions throughout the day can be a blessing for our children, for those around us that we know or do not know.
Just like God, just like Frank Lloyd Wright and many others, our greatest impact on people and the world is always ahead of us.
This Lent and beyond, “Be a Blessing” in the lives of people. Maybe in some of those tried and true ways of the past, but don’t forget to seize upon the new opportunities to be a blessing, this moment, this day, every day – with family, with friends and enemies, with the many people we know and the many more people we do not know.
Like Abram who went as the Lord directed him. May we do the same, knowing that we are blessed! Knowing we are to be a blessing for others!
What do you think Peter, John, and James were thinking as they were walking up the mountain with Jesus?
After all they had been Jesus’ constant companions for a while. They knew that he prayed, and I’m sure that there had been many other times when they went with Him to pray.
Do you think that maybe Peter, John, and James were going along with Jesus in much the same way that each of us goes for an occasional walk, maybe with someone we know…especially someone we know well? Perhaps a spouse or someone who you have a very close relationship with. Someone you can talk to about anything.
You might be walking along, just talking about life. Maybe the weather, plans for an upcoming trip, the kids. Not expecting anything too dramatic or life changing to happen. Then, BAM. It’s like getting hit by a 2 x 4 and your life is turned upside down. You are changed forever!
Your companion says or does something that you never expected and you know that you will never be the same again.
Now, if I were a betting man, I’d bet that it has happened to almost everyone here at one time or another in your life. You may need to think about it for a minute, but those moments will be vivid memories in your mind.
Matthew Kelly gives us a great example of this type of life changing experience in the prologue of Rediscover Jesus. You remember reading it a couple of weeks ago… the business man is asked “Are you Jesus?” Now this example is different because it was a chance encounter with a stranger, but the moment will forever be a vivid reminder of the moment that changed the business man’s life. It made him see life, and people differently.
Think about your own life for a minute… Has someone ever said, or done something that completely changed your life? I know that it has happened in my life, and more than once.
The first time was in the summer of 1984. I asked Mary to be my wife, I don’t know what she was thinking, but she did say yes.
The second time was in the spring of 1988. We learned that we were about to become a larger family. My life was changed in a very similar way again in winter 1991, and spring 1992 as our family grew.
The most recent time was 5 years ago when my father went home to God. My family was never what I would call affectionate, but dad’s relationship with God was evident in his love for the family as we gathered around his bed the week before he died. And dad’s relationship with God allowed me to be at peace as I said goodbye for the last time.
Each of these moments are vividly imprinted in my mind, and each of them was life changing for me.
Not unlike what I’m sure happened to Peter, John, and James when they saw Jesus’ face become dazzling white and realized that He was speaking to Moses and Elijah.
Not only did these moments become part of who I am, but they are key moments in my relationship with God. They are the moments when, like getting hit by a 2 x 4, my life changed forever. They are the moments when I knew that God was right there with me, walking up the mountain prepared to reveal Himself to me in some way that would draw me closer to Him.
As we continue our Lenten journey I pray that everyone here, and those who are not, recognize God in their lives, but unlike Peter, John, and James don’t fall silent. Share your journey and your relationship with God with everyone you meet along the way.
Scripture Readings: Genesis 12: 1-4a; 2 Timothy 8-10; Matthew 17: 1-9
Many people over the past year have expressed words of appreciation and support for Pope Francis, who this week (March 13), observed his first anniversary as Bishop of Rome, as Pope.
Yet these expressions of approval of the Pope have not been seen in our churches. Polls have shown that there has not been any observable increase in our churches.
This fact comes at the same time that an NBC News-Wall Street Journal Poll has shared that: 21 percent of Americans say, “Religion is not that important” in their lives. (An increase from the 14 percent reported in 1997). The poll also shares that these less religious people live in the Northeast or in the West.
A few days ago I was listening to a Catholic Radio personality share his response to this poll. He shared that his first reaction was one of great negativity. But he went on to share that as he prayerfully reflected on the poll, he came to the realization that the poll was a reminder that we, the active Catholics, have a responsibility to come to know our faith more deeply and to live our faith more faithfully.
And that is certainly the “Call of Baptism” and the “Call of Lent” to grow in the faith, to grow in knowing the faith, and to live our faith more faithfully.
How can we do this?
I would suggest that the first thing we might consider is: to listen.
As we hear in today’s Gospel: Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; Listen to Him.”
Remember the Wedding Feast at Cana when Mary says to the waiters:
“Do whatever he tells you.”
When we listen to God, great things happen.
But we need to honestly ask the question:
Who or what is guiding our lives?
Is it the voice of the Lord or the voice of someone or something else?
God speaks to us every day. Does the busyness of it all get in the way?
There is no doubt that the increasing number of people who say, “religion is not that important” in their lives is due to many factors. But, the lives we live, the lives we strive and struggle to live, that interact with so many people every day need to be centered in God, in the Gospel. The question we need to consider is, how can our lives reflect more and more the life and love of God?
Just maybe an increase in the importance of religion in the life of someone you know depends on our individual and collective attentiveness and response to the Word of God, to the Gospel each day.
Secondly, we have to respond to the Voice of God, the Word of God.
Lent is about “going into the Desert,” Lent is about “Going up the Mountain” as Jesus and his Disciples did in today’s Gospel.
We need to spend some time with the Lord, to get to know and understand the Lord on a regular basis. (Just like we spend time with our friends)
During these remaining weeks of Lent, how about attending one or more of the Wednesday Lenten Offerings? (This Wednesday – March 19 at 6:30 pm in church – Let’s make a real effort to come together for one hour for an evening of Inspired Song; Next Wednesday – March 26 at 6:30 pm in the hall – A men’s only Lenten Gathering entitled: “Faith Filled Men” and on Wednesday, April 9th – be part of a very special Stations of the Cross led by our Parish Youth)
In the Scriptures no one is ever commanded, “stay right here where you are! Do not move a muscle.” Rather God always expects us to change our position, either to alter our physical location or our frame of mind.
Finally, let me end with a prayer entitled: “A New Serenity Prayer” by Fr. Jim Martin.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, which is pretty much everyone, since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.
And while you’re at it God, please give me the courage to change what I need to change about myself, which is frankly a lot, since, once again, I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself than to worry about changing other people, who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying, I can’t change anyway.
Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter than everyone else in the room, that no one knows what they’re talking about except me, or that I alone have all the answers.
Basically, God grant me the wisdom to remember that I’m not you. Amen.