So we are out of the Easter season. We retained white as our liturgical color for the special celebrations of the Holy Trinity and The Body and Blood of Christ — and now we are back to the GREEN of ordinary time – when we resume our count of the Sundays using ordinal numbers – today being the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
We will only count up to the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time – have a peek of white as we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6th – then resume counting the 19th through the 33rd Sunday. Celebrate the Feast of Christ the King – then start a new liturgical year with the 1st Sunday of Advent.
The time is going to fly by – so we might as well have fun – and maybe learn a few things along the way so that we can be more like Christ.
So, there was a little girl on her way to her Catholic school, dressed in her school uniform. Thinking she was going to be late – she began running to get to school on time.
Being the good Catholic she was – She began praying as she ran: “Dear Lord, don’t let me be late!”
And all of a sudden – she tripped and fell, getting a little dirty and banging up her knee.
Not being discouraged, she got up, brushed herself off, and started running again.
This time praying: “Dear Lord, don’t let me be late. But please don’t shove me again to get me to move faster!”
I don’t think God shoves us when we’re doing our best at something – but I do think God shoves us when we need to get moving – or at least when we need to get moving in the right direction.
In today’s first reading we had an image of God in which most people find comfort. God said to his people: “I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you here to myself.”
This is the scripture passage Michael Joncas used for the song we will use at Communion:
And he will raise you up on eagles’ wings. Bear you on the breath of dawn. Make you to shine like the sun. And hold you in the palm of his hand.
Michael wrote this song for a couple of his friends for their wedding – but we use it alot at funerals: because it gives us an image of God’s protection and a sense of security.
But there are other aspects of the image of eagles’ wings to consider.
One is – when the baby eagles are old enough to fly, the mother eagle will nudge the little ones out of the nest in order to get them in the air so they can start to fly: the old sink or swim methodology – or in this case fly or crash.
But even eagles are capable of compassion: if a young eagle starts falling and does look as if it is going to crash – that’s when the adult eagles come to the rescue.
The adult bird, either the father or the mother: will soar down under the falling fledgling and support them and lift them up so they can try again.
God wants to keep us from crashing for sure – but God is not in the business of providing free rides so we can get through life without much work or effort.
God is in the business of getting us to mature, to grow up, to use the gifts and talents and energy God has given us.
We’ve all had times when we feel as if God has dumped us and we have to make it on our own. The truth is, God is watching out for us, but God is not going to do our job for us. We’re not getting into the kingdom of God without effort on our part. And part of that effort is to hear God’s voice and keep God’s covenant as God told the people of Israel in the first reading. And doing that is not always easy.
If eagles’ wings symbolize God’s watchful care, God’s watchful care is also expressed by another image in today’s gospel – that of a shepherd.
St. Matthew tells us how Jesus’ heart went out to people of his day who were like sheep without a shepherd, lost and abandoned.
Jesus wants to reach out and help all of them but he knows he can’t so he chooses people to help him. They receive the name “apostles” which means those who are sent out.
Today, Jesus still sends people out. Some of them have the same role the apostles had: to be spiritual leaders of the community: like Pope Francis, and Bishop Johnston, and the three deacons we are blessed to have in this parish.
But there are religious men and women, teachers, those who take Communion to the sick and home bound, those who work in homeless shelters and in food pantries – and parents who do their best to raise their children to be good, and hopefully - holy - people.
We all have our part to be a witness to the risen Lord and to guide and direct other people to him. Just think if everyone here brought just one person with them to Mass next weekend – how tremendous that would be.
Jesus said to pray that the master of the harvest send out laborers for his harvest. God wants to share profound love for all people – but someone needs to let people know that.
That someone is NOT just me – but also you. We could certainly be blessed with more priests. That’s something we need to pray about. Bishop Johnston will soon announce more parishes that will be closing in our Diocese because of the lack of priests.
In my home diocese of Indianapolis – when the new assignments of priest came out – I noticed out of the 21 assignments – 11 were just adding another parish to the one the priest already had – as if priests have an unlimited amount of time and energy. . . especially as we continue to age. . .
So yes, pray for priests. But also pray for a renewed sense of how all of us are called to evangelization – how all of us are called to be first of all the light in the very dark world we live in – but also called to lead others to the light of Christ.
We share with our friends a good story or a good movie we’ve seen or that great restaurant we just ate at the other night – are we also sharing our faith with them???
God’s love flows from every reading today. Can we absorb that love – soak it up while we are here – and then share it with others throughout the week? That’s our calling:
With one voice to pass the word along.
With one voice, to bring justice to the world.
To spread the goodness of God.
Moments in time...