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Get into the ring! How this works...

This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mercy is "Believing" at Work

-Last Sunday's homily is NOT available
-This Sunday's Scriptures can be found at
-I will be celebrating mass this weekend at 5:30 Sat and 9:30 and 11:00 on Sunday

Believe By Becoming God's Mercy

Theologian Ronald Rolheiser has described for me the legend of St. Christopher. I knew St. Christopher only as a "debunked" patron saint of safe travel. I was unfamiliar with the story of his conversion.

As a youth, Christopher was gifted in every way, except faith. He was a big man physically, powerful, strong, goodhearted, mellow, and well liked by all. He was also generous, using his physical strength to help others. His one fault was that he found it hard to believe in God. For him, the physical was what was real and everything else seemed unreal. However, he yearned to believe in God and deeply respected those who did believe. And so he lived his life in a certain honest agnosticism, unable to really believe in anything beyond what he could physically see, feel, and touch.

This, however, did not prevent him from using his gifts, especially his physical strength, to serve others. This became his refuge, generosity and service. He became a ferryboat operator, spending his life helping to carry people across a dangerous river. One night, so the legend goes, during a storm, the ferryboat capsized and Christopher dove into the dark waters to rescue a young child. Carrying that child to the shore, he looked into its face and saw there the face of Christ. After that he believed, for he had seen the face of Christ. The very name, Christopher, contains the legend. Christopher means Christ-bearer

Are we not all at times like Christopher and like St. Thomas, weak in faith? We don't even feel like we believe. There are, for everyone of us, dark nights of the soul, silences of God, cold lonely seasons, bitter times when God's appearances to us cannot be truly grasped or recognized. The history of faith, as witnessed by the life of Jesus and the lives of the saints, shows us that God often seems dead and, at those times, the reality of the empirical world can so overpower us that nothing seems real except what we can see and feel right now, namely our own pain.

Whenever this happens, we need to become Christ-bearers, Christophers, honest agnostics who use their goodness and God-given strengths to help carry others across the burdensome rivers of life. God does not ask us to have a faith that is certain, but a service that is sure. We have the assurance that, should we faithfully help carry others without first thinking of ourselves, we will one day find ourselves before the person of Christ who will gently say to us: "See for yourself, that I am real, and not a ghost".

By living mercy we can become believers in the flesh! Help, Lord, our unbelief!


JoyFuralle said...

YEAH, Matador has risen, he lives!!! ALLELUIA!!!

ALL of this makes so much sense but I read it over three times...and I think the more I read it over the more I recognize myself in every detail you've mentioned.

So many times I can feel overwhelmed like the the Lion in Wizard of Oz...I do believe in Spooks, I do believe in Spooks, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do... and then I realize I'm looking at the wrong thing/place, focused on self, not looking to Christ, not trusting.

Yet I'm not sure what great faith is, seems so elusive. Back to Baptism, What do you ask of God's Church? Faith. What does faith offer you? Eternal life. Oh, okay. I can sink my teeth into that. Not only life, but eternal life. And that eternal life starts HERE and NOW. I am coming to understand that there is no other way to have life but to share it, give it, offer it and take it in as much as I can or am able in whatever circumstance or situation.

I find when I am not up to that task of living & giving & sharing & offering life I turn into the Lion instead of just trusting & saying, I do believe, help my unbelief!

anon 1 said...

What a beautiful homily prep. It seems that the Matador and Ronald Rolheiser make a great combination in spiritual reflection.

The idea of belief coming through the action of mercy makes sense to me and I can think of other times I’ve seen it played out. For instance, not long ago at the Parish Service Day, there was so much joy among the people who participated. I can’t help but think that the experience of that is something along the same vein we read here of St. Christopher. That when people are engaged in acts of service, of giving themselves away, and see the joy in the eyes of the people receiving - it in turn creates joy in the ones who gave. The other’s joy becomes their own – or really, it becomes a shared joy. It is interesting: it isn’t the act of service itself that creates the joy, but the response of “the other” that incites it – and it is there that the Spirit of God can be most easily seen. How much more easily we can be in touch with God and his mercy while in communion with others, than by living alone in our own world of need.

Peg said...

Thank you for being back as a Christ Bearer.

Anonymous said...

I have a very, very dear friend (the dearest friend whom our Father has blessed me with) who I feel He truly brought us together by His own precious hand. Like a deep, dear relationship "made in Heaven"; made for each other.

I am not "blessed" with seeing my friend very often, so most of that which we have is deeply interior; real within. Just the strong desire to be with my friend creates a sense of deep longing within; thus helping me to strive for what is truly real; our interior; a deeper and deeper union with each other, with Christ. This becomes "reality" that which is interiorly within; where Christ truly dwells.

As our Holy Father Emeritus said recently: If we are always outside of ourselves; being "doers" we become constantly exterior and to me, this creates a certain loneliness, sadness, emptiness.

But my friend; by my longing to be with him, helps me to keep in touch with the reality of the depth of my heart and soul; the "real" blessings our Father gives to us.