My Dear Parish Family,
A couple of Tuesdays ago Fr. Ron Hoye shared some stories and ideas at one of our Adult Faith Formation evenings. He said the main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing. The main thing of course, is Jesus. Taking that a little further, the main thing is having a relationship with Jesus.
Several times in scripture people asked Jesus what they need to do to be with him always. His answer is to love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. Basically to let everything about us be about him. How? Here are two ideas. Number one, pray. Don’t worry about what to say because most of our prayer time, should be silent. Jesus said, “my sheep know me because they know my voice.” We need to listen. What we hear is an invitation to join him, to be in his company, to be his disciple, his follower.
Another way to let everything about us be about him, is straight from today’s gospel, Matthew chapter 16, deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. In other words, put others first, before ourselves, and be like Jesus … to everyone. The gospel is inviting us to think completely differently from what we are used to, putting others first means putting myself and my needs, wants, desires second or even third or fourth. It is inviting us to think and act like Jesus so that we can be with him in heaven.
Jesus is handing us the winning lottery ticket. He says be my disciples in this life and be with me in heaven always. Who needs $758 million when we can live forever in heaven in the presence of God!
We see examples of people doing for others every day. The challenge is thinking about it through the eyes of Jesus. Realizing that we are taking on the role of being Jesus to others. Thinking of our self-sacrifice as sharing the love of God with someone else.
Parents self-sacrifice for their children from birth to forever. Spouses help one another. Children learn to help and care for aging parents. We do it for duty, loyalty, love. We can teach children to sweep the kitchen floor because it is dirty. Or we can teach them to sweep the floor because it is one small thing you can do to care for others in your family. It is beautiful to see all the examples of neighbors helping neighbors and strangers helping strangers in the current Hurricane Harvey devastation in southeast Texas. Maybe God gave us life not for ourselves at all but to care for and serve the people around us.
There are many small ways to self-sacrifice. Letting someone go ahead of you in line at the bank or grocery store check-out. Telling a waiter to help that young family at the next table and come back to you later. Being kind while driving, go the speed limit, use your turn indicator. Saving for something you want instead of buying it on credit. Spending less time on screens and more time with people. Practicing being next, not first. This lifestyle of kindness is training for the real challenging questions that we all face. How much do I give? How much do I volunteer? How much do I help? How much do I participate?
The more we give ourselves to Jesus, the more we are aligned with him, the more we begin to sound and look like him. That is his plan, that is what we are to do. We are to be his hands, his feet, his voice, to all the people he has put in our lives. Our sufferings, the cost of discipleship, these efforts lead to a great “payoff,” heaven. All disciples of Jesus have a winning ticket. Who needs your love today?
Faith Formation Minister