Becoming a Disciple Week 3: Your True Potential

(Homily for Twelfth Ordinary Sunday Year C )

Message: By being a disciple of Jesus you will realize your amazing potential.

Happy Father's Day! Before speaking about fatherhood, I want to say something about the horrific mass shooting in Orlando. I have been thinking about those young people murdered last Sunday morning. May God grant them eternal rest. I have been especially thinking about their parents. Some of you know the loss of a child. Few things are more heart breaking. I ask you to join in praying for an end to the horrific violence that afflicts our world and nation. St. James Cathedral had this prayer:

O God of peace, you are peace itself.
A violent mind cannot receive you;
a discordant spirit cannot grasp you.
Receive the souls of the dead into your embrace.
Heal the wounded.
Banish violence from our midst
and wipe away the tears from all faces.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

You can find the prayer in today's bulletin. Besides praying for our world and nation, this weekend we remember our dads living or deceased. I think of my dad who died in 1995. Not a perfect dad (are there any?) he had his own demons, but hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about him. My appreciation for him increases as years pass.

This weekend we honor a man who comes close to being a perfect father. Even though St. Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus, he was father in every sense that really counts. He is the great example of spiritual fatherhood so needed today. We have a display of St. Joseph statues as we discern an appropriate one for our sanctuary. You may also want one for your home or office.

St. Joseph is a powerful intercessor. A couple of months ago a parishioner gave me a statue of “Sleeping St. Joseph.” In the Bible we read how God spoke to him in dreams (Mt 1:20; 2:13; 2:19) giving guidance and protection. Pope Francis has a Sleeping St. Joseph in his office. Under it he places prayer requests. I’ve started to do the same with some good results. St. Joseph, man of dreams, pray for us!

We need St. Joseph’s intercession as we move forward with our parish vision. In the brochure I gave you last weekend you can see the basics of our vision for the coming year and specific goals for 2016-2017. It is a bold vision because it goes against everything the world tries to tell us. The world encourages self-exaltation, me first, do your own thing - even if it brings harm to others. What matters is me. Our vision says that it's not about me, it's about Jesus: Lift up Jesus. Love others even if it requires personal sacrifice. Make disciples because what brings happiness is not doing things my way, but Jesus' way.

Our parish exists to lift up Jesus, love others and make disciples. St. Joseph shows the essence of discipleship. In one of his dreams recognizes Mary's son as Emmanuel, God with us. And, as the legal father, Joseph gives the child his name: Jesus, which means God saves us from our sins. Accepting Jesus as God and Savior is the essence of discipleship.

Discipleship begins with God. We saw this a couple weeks ago when Jesus raises the son of a widow: "Young man, I tell you, arise." A person can seem lost, hopeless, dead, but Jesus doesn't see it that way. He says, "I tell you, arise!"

Last week we saw God has great plans for us - and we have no excuse for not responding. We have the example of David. God gave him a kingdom but he wanted a kingdom without God. He sank into the pits but he didn't crawl into a hole.

Thanks to the prophet Nathan - real disciple maker - David acknowledges his sin, accepts responsibility and turns back to God. We see that turning back in today's Psalm:

Oh God, you are my God, for you I long
for you my soul is thirsting
my body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.

Do you remember when Jesus said "I am the living water"? He's the only one who can satisfy our thirst. Of course we are constantly looking for something other than God. Sometimes you hear about a man who has had a thousand partners. We look for ways to satisfy our thirst, but it only gets worse. Alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn. Those things might contains something good and they might bring momentary peace, but it does not last. Suppose a guy in the desert, the only liquid he has is a cup of syrup. After drinking it he feels nauseous, thirstier than ever.

In today's Gospel Jesus tells us the right way: Deny yourself. Take up your cross. At first that doesn't sound so inviting, but remember that Jesus contains all reality. St. Paul says that in Jesus there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. We have a fundamental equality in Jesus because in him we receive everything good. You don't lose your nationality* nor your masculinity or femininity - but they find their completion in Christ - perfect freedom. When a person denies himself and takes up the cross, he finds his true self.

Now, to complete the story of the guy in the desert. The syrup almost finishes him off but by some grace he struggles on. Beyond the next rise he meets an oasis with cool, flowing water. Come to Jesus, come to the living water.

Next week we will learn more about what it means to give all for Jesus. We will see a key virtue we need if we are going have a relationship with Jesus - or any other person. That's for next week

Today we see that in Jesus - and only in him - will we find true meaning. By being a disciple of Jesus you will realize your amazing potential. Jesus says it directly:

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Amen.

************

*When I was a missionary in Peru among indigenous people, I experienced a culture very different from my own. How much more intriguing will it be to meet someone of another century - a Jew from the time of the Babylonian exile or a Saxon from the time of St. Bede! I know we will be "like the angels neither marrying or giving in marriage" (Mk 12:25) but will, say, St Peter or St. Therese not be recognizable in their masculinity or femininity - and their rich cultures?

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Twelfth Sunday, Year C):

2013: Look On Him They Pierced
2010: Why Go to Mass, Part 2
2004: Take Up Your Cross Daily
1999: Submission to the Cross

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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