Pastor's Pen, 7th Regular Sunday

In Jamaica there was a man named Junior who lived in our neighbourhood. He had a very loud and distinctive voice. He would also use this voice when he would come to the Rectory asking for money. I may have wanted to avoid Junior on a particular day, but his voice made it impossible. When he would ask for money he usually offered some crazy reason as to why he was in need. I was reluctant to give Junior money because he always smelled as if he drank it rather than used it for the reason he had given. One day I remember him stopping me in my car and I told him to check back later. I knew I would be late so I thought I had managed to “dodge” Junior that time.  It was about two in the morning when I was awakened from sleep by the sound of Junior’s voice, which sounded angry as well, at the Rectory door.  After a few minutes of hoping he would leave, I decided I better get up and speak with him since he was making enough noise to wake the neighbours. When I opened the door he yelled at me for not being where I said I would be. Despite some fear, I opened the security grill and sat with him. We spoke for a while and I apologized.  Junior was clearly drunk and I was worried about his returning home.  I said we should walk together.  He agreed and we started to walk. Junior was in his forties, he was tough and had a temper that made him unpredictable.  But as we started to walk, this tough, scary man took my hand and held it for the walk home.  Junior was not an easy person to love. He had his personal demons, he was aggressive and loud, and he would only deal with you when he wanted something. Though completely understandable as to why I would want to avoid him, I forgot two things.  First, Junior was a person and he was loved by God as much as me.  Second, as a Christian, I am called to love all the time, not some of the time.

I’m currently on retreat and yesterday, I was given the first chapter of John’s Gospel to read and pray.  In it, there is a scene in which John the Baptist sees Jesus and says “Look, there is the Lamb of God.”  At these words, some of the Baptist’s disciples decide to follow the Lord for a while.  Christ turns and asks them what they want?  This question is open to all of us and it is to be answered from each of our hearts.

 I am far from a perfect person.  And if I’m God’s temple, as St. Paul writes in the Second Reading, I think I must be a pretty rough one with lots of work still going on.  Though I try to keep them under control, I can often feel envy with the success of another; I can often feel the desire for “payback” or revenge if someone has wronged me, and if I do not act on this desire, I sure think about it; and, I can often feel pride and ambition seeking to direct my words and actions.  With all these things that weigh down our faith and the living of the holiness God has given to us, Jesus’ question and our answer are the remedy.  What do you want?”  In our heart of hearts, we don’t want to be “Number One,” we don’t want our payback, rather, we want you, Lord.  This Sunday’s Gospel has Jesus giving quite demanding instructions to his followers.  We may read them and doubt if we can obey them.  “Turn the other cheek?”  “Give my second cloak?”  Why on earth would we do such crazy things?  Why?  Because we want you, Lord.  And so church, let us remember what is in our hearts – We want God!  It is this desire that allows ourselves to be made by God into His temple.  I’m not perfect, none of us our perfect, but we are called to be so.  In remembering our desire for God, our hearts remain open to redemption, healing and salvation.  With His grace, our hearts are being transformed by Love and into Love.  I know it’s tough, but let’s try and love all the time, not just some of the time.  And why would we try such a crazy thing?  We want you, Lord.   

God Bless and Take Care!

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