By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
After spending many hours in the Riley’s Irish Riverside Pub, a young man decided to head home. As soon as he stepped outside he noticed a group of people gathering down at the river. The young man was curious. So, he inched his way toward the river to see what was happening. A preacher was standing in the middle of the river. He was inviting people to be baptized by immersion.
After baptizing the last person the preacher looked around. He saw the young man and invited him to be baptized. So the lad waded to the center of the river. The preacher gripped the man’s shoulders, pushing him down under the water, holding him there for 15 seconds. He pulled the man up and asked, “Did you see Jesus?” The young man shook his head and said, “No!” So the preacher held him underwater for a second time. He pulled him up and asked, “Did you see Jesus?” Again the lad said, “No!”
Finally, the preacher held the young lad under the water for one whole minute. When the preacher pulled him up he asked, “Now, did you see Jesus?” Gagging and gasping for air, the lad said, “Preacher, are you sure this is where he fell in?”
Last Sunday we celebrated the manifestation of Christ in the Epiphany. Monday we celebrated the memorial of Jesus’ baptism. We were reminded of our own baptism. With the baptism of Christ, we closed the Christmas season and began ordinary time in our liturgical calendar.
Christ Lutes interviewed Jimmie Lee Sloas and Gordon Kennedy, the two rockers who call themselves ‘Dogs of Peace.’ Chris asked them, “Who had the greatest influence on your Christian life?”
Gordon looked up and said softly, “Chris Bonds. I went to school with Chris from the third grade through my senior year. He had muscular dystrophy and was in a wheel chair. All of us kids took turns pushing him around the playground. We were told that he wouldn’t live much beyond 18. We knew we were watching a guy who might die just when the rest of us were getting ready to graduate.
You know, all the time I knew Chris, I don’t remember seeing him frown. He was so positive and upbeat. Chris lived longer than expected. After his death, his mother found a poem which Chris wrote. Part of the poem says:
“I come to the conclusion! When the envying is tilled!
That the post to which God sent me! Is the post He
Gordon continued, “As I think about these lines, I think about Chris on the sidelines, wishing he could get in the game and play with the other kids. But then, as the poem tells it, he came to grips with his role in life…”
A favorite passage in scripture for many people is the first reading today from Samuel. A name called in the night-and life is changed irrevocably. The Lord called Samuel under the cover of night. After checking with his teacher, Samuel responded, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Centuries later another teacher spoke. His disciples responded and their lives were irrevocable changed. That same teacher is calling today. The question is, will our lives be changed!!! Will we be able to say,
“Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.”
Being a disciple of Christ is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be. It means carrying a cross, living with inconveniences and making sacrifices. It means, as the famous woman in scripture, Ruth, says, “Wherever you go, I will go.”
Next week we begin our mission. We hear the call to come. Come to the mission. Come and hear the gospel of Luke being translated down to earth language. Come and hear the beatitudes being infused into our lives. Come and hear how we can keep our balance in a world where the media is rocking our Catholic Christian boat. Fran Runyeon will be challenging us to live Christian lives as Christ meant us to live. All are expected to be present at our mission. I will be looking forward to seeing you.
And here’s a ‘wish’ list.
I wish you enough sun to keep your altitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in live may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough success to keep you eager,
I wish you enough failure to keep you humble,
I wish you enough joy to share with others,
I wish you enough trials to keep you strong,
I wish you enough hope to keep you happy,
I wish you enough faith to banish depression,
I wish you enough friends to give you comfort,
I wish you enough friends to give you comfort,
I wish you enough determinations to make each day better than yesterday.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.
In the Redeeming Christ,
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.