Saturday, May 13, 2017
We recall in today's first reading the selection and commissioning of the first group of deacons in the Church. So, I will take this opportunity to first thank you for the support and encouragement that you have shown me over the past several years in my role as a permanent deacon – you have not stoned me to death as they did to one of the first deacons: Stephen, which is the story that follows today's first reading in the Acts of the Apostles, so thanks for that too. I am also grateful for the support from Monsignor Grimes initially, then Father Kavanagh, and now Monsignor Johnson – while I am assigned to this parish by Bishop Campbell, it is with the support and encouragement of the pastor that I am here – so thank you Father John! And while I am thanking people, I need to certainly thank, on this Mother's Day weekend, my mom – who is here at this Mass – she certainly has taught me by her words and actions how to humbly serve others, which is the calling of the deacon. So, thank you, Mom! [And while I am thanking people, I need to certainly thank, on this Mother's Day weekend, my wife – who is here at this Mass – she certainly has supported me and our family during my years of formation and now in my ministry in the parish. So, thank you, Tracey Marie!] While talking about the diaconate, I also want to take this opportunity to encourage any man of the parish to consider a vocation to the diaconate – talk to Fr. John or me about this. There are so many good men in this parish, who I know would be great deacons – who have such a great capacity to love and serve God and others – and we need your help. As a deacon, and as a father and husband, I embrace the words in today’s second reading: I want to be united with Jesus in such an intimate, living, powerful way and I desire to be a part of his Church, to serve God, and share with others God’s great love for us. As much as this is my desire, I too often find myself more like the Apostles in today’s Gospel – worried, confused, uncertain, and lacking in faith. I would like to think that if I was around Christ for years, as the Apostles were, then I would be fearless and confident. But I have been with Jesus my whole life and I still worry and lack a full and unconditional trust in God. The reality is that we are human and by our weaknesses there will always be room for worry, confusion, uncertainty in our minds and hearts. The alternative to this reality, however, is to grow closer to God the Father through his son Jesus Christ. This is Jesus’ point in the Gospel. In our worry, confusion, uncertainty, there is God the Father who is the truth and life. It is God the Father who made us, who made us in his image and likeness, who made us out of love, to be love and to love – He is LIFE. It is God the Father who is the origin of everything and authority over all. It is God the Father who is the source of all goodness and who lovingly cares for all – every person and everything – He is TRUTH. The thing we desire most – life and truth – is not only something we can know and experience fully, but it is made readily available to us through Jesus – truthfully it is only through Jesus that we might know life and truth. United with God the Father is the Son, Jesus. This is how Jesus in today’s Gospel can state with authority: “if you know me, then you will also know my Father,” and “the words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his work,” and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” And, it is with this authority that we will profess in just a couple of minutes that we believe in Jesus, who is: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father. Jesus IS the way and the truth and the life. Jesus IS the way to truth and life. The challenge for us is being willing to let go of our worry, confusion, and uncertainty, and to be more open to God so that we can know and experience truth and life. As we work on this daily, we can find encouragement in today’s Gospel. First, Jesus does not want his disciples or us today to be troubled – he tells them and us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He does not want worry, confusion and uncertainty to consume us, let alone keep us from truth and life. Second, Jesus has prepared a place for us in Heaven – he wants us to be with him and his Father eternally. Jesus is reminding us that he is anticipating and wants more than anything for us to be with him in Heaven. Third, Jesus was so patient with his friends, and he will be the same with us. He could have given up on them, after being with them for years and having performed miracles in front of them and spoken the same powerful message over and over – and they still did not get it; I know that my own patience is far less as I quickly get frustrated having to repeat myself to my three sons! But here is Jesus, just before his Passion, patiently and loving explaining again and again who he is and what he has to offer them. And finally, we can hold firm the promise Jesus offers us: whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these." This is what awaits us when we trust in and follow Jesus, who IS the way, the truth and the life. May God bless you.
Posted by Jeffrey Fortkamp at 7:33 AM