Mt 9:35-10:1, 5a, 6-8 His Heart Was Moved
Yesterday I was speaking to a woman who told me that Advent was all about hope, not conversion. I told her that I think the virtue of hope is best achieved through conversion. For example, when I see for myself that I can be a better man, than I experience a lot of hope. But the greatest grace of hope is given to us through the Sacrament of Confession. When I confess my sins and my sins are forgiven I not only walk away in relief but also aware that the Lord believes in me when he says, “Go and sin no more.” It means I can really do this. I don’t have to fail again. It also means He believes in me.
The Lord told his disciples, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” What exactly does this mean? It means that everything the Lord did, he wants us to do. The Lord gave it all. He wants his Apostles to give it all too. The Lord sacrificed himself for others. The Lord wants us to sacrifice ourselves for others. The Lord forgave sins; he wants us to forgive too. He summoned the Twelve; sent them out, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” When I read this, I immediately think, I need to be as loving as a lamb and as tough as nails. The Lord demands from us to give what he has given to us. This flies in the face of Protestants who do not believe in the Sacraments, especially Confession. The Lord sent His Twelve, not the crowd, to do everything that he does, including the forgiveness of sins - the raising of the dead to life.
Recently an elderly woman came to my office and told me an all too familiar story. Her life savings had been swindled away from some corrupt investors. She said they would call her constantly, non-stop until she delivered the money. Everything she had worked for was gone! I felt her pain. She’s a good woman, a holy woman. When you hear these stories you want to reach out and help. “His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” A few days a later I had my chance. I received a phone call from my cell phone announcing that I had won a million dollars. It was in Spanish. The pre-recorded voice told me that if I wanted to collect my money, then I should stay on the phone. Instead of hanging up I wanted to know who would be the voice that would tell me the great news! I waited and then I heard a female’s voice. She asked me for my name. I told her, in Spanish, that I was Fr. Alfonse, a Roman Catholic priest, and that I was SO HAPPY that I had won a million dollars. I told her with as much exaggerated excitement as I could muster from a high school play, “I feel like I’m in heaven!!! I just won a million dollars and I can’t believe that this could happen to me!!!” She wasn’t impressed. She told me that I should go to Hollywood. I told her, with as much seriousness as if I were in a funeral, that she should go to Hell. She hung up. “Cleanse lepers, DRIVE OUT DEMONS.”
Christians were never meant to be wimps. The Lord was not a wimp, a sissy, a goody-goody or a gaga goo-goo. The Lord is KING. And we need more laborers for his Court. His plan of salvation includes all of us to speak in his name and live by his name.
The greatest way to prepare for Christmas (Advent) is to prepare the way of the Lord: to find a place for the Lord in your heart and soul; to go on a spiritual pilgrimage that will take you to the stable; to follow the stars – the lights - that constantly point to the Lord; to accompany Mary on her journey; to interview her and to write her words down in your diary and compare notes.
These are just a few adventurous and holy ways to live your Advent. The Lord’s heart is moved for the troubled and the abandoned. His heart is lifted by the conversion of sinners. On his Father’s and Mother’s journey to Egypt, the Lord’s heart was moved and shuffled from one place to another. May he find a place to rest within our hearts.