Jesus said to the Pharisees: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
I enjoy preaching to kids. They love a good surprise and I love giving them a surprise.
Today, I asked the children if they were having a good day. I was happy to see a lot of little heads bob up and down. “Great!” I said. But then I asked what a good day meant to them. They gave me the typical responses: A good day is when people are nice to you, when you are having fun, when everything is going your way. So I asked them if they ever thought that a good day could be when someone is mean to you, hurts you and things don’t go your way.
I was sad to see that a lot of little heads turned left and right.
Then I asked the children what we call the day that Jesus died on the Cross for us. One child knew. He said, “Good Friday.” I was happy to bob my head up and down in agreement. He was absolutely correct.
Regardless of how old I get, there will always be two things in and out of this world that will always amaze me: What God will do for me and what I can do for God.
As surprising as it may be, Christian’s call the day their Savior was savagely tortured and brutally crucified “Good Friday.” Why? Because it is the day that our Lord showed, beyond reason and beyond doubt, what he would endure for us; how far he would go for all us. And yes, this makes most of us very happy and a few of us even glad to imitate him.
“When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they believe in anything” (G.K. Chesterton). People will say a lot of things about love. But there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. People will claim a lot of things are good. But there is nothing better than to give what you have.
Every time we sin, we fall prey to certain involuntary movements. For example, we fold our arms, close our minds and block our hearts to name just a few things. You would think that that person doesn’t want to do anything, think about anything, or love anyone. The truth of the matter is just the opposite. They want to do everything but not what God wants. They want to think anything but not what God thinks. They want to love everything except what God loves. They have their own Commandments, their own beatitudes, their own parables of life. The falsehood of the matter is: they think they are their own master. The truth of the matter is: they make themselves The Masters (or Monsters) of the human race!
Faith is freedom. It involves one simple transaction: to believe is to receive. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. You belong to what is below. I belong to what is above.” The Lord extended his hand out to the Pharisees in order to extend his life in them. He wished to give them something new: His World! His Abundance! His Overflow! The Pharisees and scribes refused to accept his hand and left shaken. They wished to save their own skins instead of saving the skins of their own people!
What exactly does the Lord give? He gives the world what it was missing. He gave a lot of heaven to earth. He gave the human race the fullest meaning to life. He demonstrated the power of grace over sin, and revealed beauty within adversity. He gave us a mission in life: Be like me! And I am amazed at how often I see him.
This morning I was on my cell phone speaking to a priest friend when my office phone rang. For some strange reason, I picked up the other line. The receptionist asked me if I could come down to bless some rosaries. I could easily have said, “Please tell these folks I will bless them later.” Instead, I went down the flight of stairs while still on the phone and went over to bless the rosaries. I asked the young lady that had them who they were for. I was surprised at what she told me. “Father, they are for my brother. Last night someone tried to break into my brother’s home and he was shot.” I couldn’t believe it. I asked if he was all by himself. “No”, she replied, “My mother was in the home too. They were about to shoot her but he ran in front of her. She is good. My brother may not make it.”There are two things in life that fill me with wonder and awe: What God did for me and my neighbor and what I can do for God and my neighbor.