This has been such a difficult homily for me to write. Difficult because there are so many themes in the readings I want to preach about and that I believe are crucial to the religious challenges we face today, and also difficult because besides the lamb there is also an elephant in the room of my heart.
So here’s what I want to preach and then I’ll get to what I need to preach.
In order to hear God speaking to us, calling to us, guiding us like Samuel – we need to listen. This means that we need to take time daily to pray, to simply “be” with the Lord. There is no substitute, no short cut, no F2 stroke on your spiritual keyboard that will call it up on your interior screen. We have to take time to be silent with God so God can speak to us what God desires and also that we can hear what God is saying.
Prayer will then lead us to encounter Jesus, like the two disciples of John the Baptist. In this encounter, prayer will lead us to ask, “Where are you staying?” Pray will help us hear Jesus’ response, “Come and see.”
Because of our encounter with Jesus, we will then go out and tell others just like Andrew does to his brother Simon, and Phillip to Nathanial as we read a few more verses further on.
Telling others, sharing the fruit of our prayer and encounter with Jesus is, I believe, the essential challenge for us Catholics at this present moment in history. You may disagree with me and say there are other more pressing agenda such as the sanctity of life or immigration or racism or the vocation crisis to priesthood and marriage.
All of these are indeed important and pressing issues. Yet, I believe that sharing the Gospel, that evangelizing and inviting others to encounter Jesus Christ are key to the transformation of our society that has turned a deaf ear to God’s call. As a result we are suffering as a people, a nation and a church. The consequences are already dire and I believe will only get worse.
Therefore, I strongly suggest that our Strategic Plan, our Parish Vision, 2026 is a call and challenge to each of us to embrace and to seek to fulfill our mission as disciples to assist in bringing about the Kingdom of God. Fr. Cody and I will share more on this next weekend.
Now on to what I need to preach about – the elephant in the room.
(DT) I am deeply grateful to Fr. Gary Zender, Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese but more importantly my very good friend, for being with me as I shared with you the news of my diagnosis of ALS last Sunday. He has been such a support on this journey.
(WS) I am deeply grateful to Fr. Gary Zender, Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese but more importantly my very good friend, for having shared with you the news of my diagnosis of ALS last Sunday. I wish I could have been the one to deliver this news to you personally.
I am also grateful for those of you who have spoken to me or reached out to me with a card, email or letter. I feel so very blessed by your prayer, your care and your support.
Since November 13th as I have been dealing with this news, I have turned daily to Jesus who has said to me in so many different ways what he said to those two disciples of John, “What are you looking for?”
“What are you looking for?” Is this not THE core question of our existence? Is this not what is at the heart of who we are as human beings?
I believe that all too often we seek easy answers to this core question. That’s why I’ve brought this shovel as a symbol of our need to dig deeper.
If all we are looking for is a good job, a fine career, a suitable mate, more money, travel, excitement, better sex, a ripped physic or whatever, then we are skating along on the superficiality of existence – which quite frankly is where so much of humanity in Western culture finds itself these days.
I do not know this for sure, but all the indications are that with ALS, I will experience a difficult, slowly debilitating deterioration of strength first of all in my hands, my arms and legs, then my speech and my ability to swallow and eventually even my ability to breath. As I said in my letter to you last week, this is a “designer disease” and it affects each person differently.
So when I heard Jesus asking me this week, “Jim, what are you looking for,” I wanted to shout back, “Dah, what do you think?, like a petulant child.
So what am I looking for? A miracle of healing through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati so that he can become a saint? That would be nice, but it’s not really at the core of Jesus’ question.
The answer to what am I looking for, what I deeply desire to look for, what I know is at the core of what I “ought” to be looking for is: “Where are you staying, Jesus; where do you live; where do you abide?”
And he says, “Come and see.” And he showed me this, (hold up the lamb on the cross.)
“Behold the Lamb of God,” sacrificed, slain and nailed to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins because he loves me; because he loves each and every one of us.
I tremble at the thought of the cross, yet this has been the deepest desire all my life – to follow Jesus, to imitate Chris – even if I didn’t do a very good job of it.
And now the invitation is offered to me once again, “Come and see…”
I think this short note from Fr. Kurt Nagel, pastor of Holy Family in Kirkland sums it up. “I will keep you in my daily prayers and petitions, Jim. Blessed Giorgio Frassati be with you. May you be sanctified by this cross no matter what the outcome of those prayers.”
“May you be sanctified by this cross.”
That is at the core of the question that Jesus is asking. Please pray that I may be able to answer well and to follow him.