Jesus said to them, “Will you be exalted to heaven?...Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
Rejection. No one likes to be rejected. Not even the Lord. And yet, there are many times throughout the week (and maybe throughout the day!) that my love runs dry or near empty. What would the Lord say? I think he would tell me, “You haven’t given to the point of no return.”
Yesterday I celebrated the funeral of a good friend, Richard Stanford. He worked as a salesman. From what he told me he was pretty successful. I have no doubts of this. But I do believe that he was extremely successful as a salesman for the Lord. Our Church was packed yesterday afternoon. There must have been close to six hundred mourners and well wishers at Richard’s funeral. He was loved because he loved, period. He was not loved because he sold playgrounds. He was not loved because he made money. He was loved because he loved. And his first love was to the Lord.
He suffered for some time in the dark clouds of skepticism. But when he asked a good friend why she was always happy, he found a gigantic piece that was missing from the puzzle of his life. That’s when he re-discovered his faith. But first he had to fall down on his knees and ask for forgiveness. First he had to suffer before he could recover!
From that moment on, this man became a Catholic evangelist! He preached the truth without fear but with great mercy and love. He did not insult the Lord by insulting others. Rather, he knew how to mix truth, mercy and giving all in one holy trinity of love. He would even evangelize me! And I’m a priest! He would always want to go to see some religious movie. We went to see “Of God and Men” and “There Will Be Dragons.” He thought they were great. I thought they were boring! They were too religious for me!!! I wanted to see more action, blood, war and death. He was more interested in the philosophical and theological meanings behind the words. I’m sure I got on his nerves because he definitely got on my nerves! We had some great laughs and discussions!
It is apparent that many listened to this fine young man because many saw an authentic man and friend; someone who cared more for their soul than for their account. And for this reason alone, he received both. The Lord had followers not because they were feed, but because they were cared.
I will begin to authentically witness to those around me when I give a reason for my faith, hope and love; when I begin to proclaim to all the Good News of Jesus Christ and what he has done for me. And what is this Good News? It is the news of finally finding the piece of my puzzle that was lost. It is the story of finding the buried treasure that was outside of my prideful life. It is the news of finding that love that I allowed to go astray. It is the story of connecting the dots and finding the image and likeness of Jesus in my life. It is the story of finding this treasure and fighting and slaying demons that would love to take it away from me. It is the story of never giving it up or getting used to it or taking it for granted, or God forbid, rejecting it!
That’s probably the reason why Richard loved those two movies.