I usually read this Gospel at a baptism.
When there are other children at a baptism,
I will ask them,
what do you see in the baptismal font?
Does that look like a river of water?
Of course, the answer is no.
Picture rivers of water—
The Great Miami…the Ohio…the Mississippi.
Not during a drought, but at flood stage:
gushing, overflowing torrents!
All that, flowing out from within us!
That’s the image: not a trickle, but a flood!
That font can only hold so much.
When we’re thirsty,
our insides can only so much;
even all the rivers and oceans of the world
can only hold so much water.
The Holy Spirit,
God’s "Living Water," is beyond all that!
That’s what the Lord Jesus is promising us.
Not a trickle—but a flood!
What kind of power could that be?
We can’t begin to imagine!
We think the power of our nation—
our technology, our economy—
it’s all so impressive!
We’re like the folks in the first reading:
they were very impressed
with the city and tower they built:
"to touch the sky."
But notice what it says next:
"The Lord came down to see it!"
You and I have 20/20 vision;
God has 20-gazillion vision!
And yet, to see their great, big city,
God had to lean way down…
"Hmm, I think I see something!"
What a huge difference
between what you and I accomplish on our own—
that so easily impresses us!—
and the truly great things only God can do!
Which do we really want:
A trickle, that we control?
Or a flood, from God, under his control?
That first reading: we might wonder why
God scattered them.
It wasn’t because they made him mad,
and they certainly weren’t any threat to him!
It was because they were closing themselves
into their safe, little city!
And leaving God out!
They did it; we do it.
So God scattered them—
and all their big dreams were dashed.
Is it not true
that the terrible events of our lives
are also the times when you and I go deeper:
we step out into darkness, and
we find out just how strong God is,
we have no strength left in ourselves.
Along the way,
you and I become more compassionate,
we become…more human.
That’s why God ran them out
of their snug little city;
and he sometimes does that to us.
So let’s bring it right home,
to our little city of Piqua,
our parish of St. Boniface:
isn’t it just possible that you and I
could be too comfortable,
too snug in what’s familiar to us?
Change is coming.
In a few weeks, for the first time,
the two parishes in Piqua will share a pastor.
No one really knows
all that will mean, including me.
We’re going to find out.
Both parishes are used to going their own way:
that’s going to change.
After this Mass,
I’m headed "over there" for St. Mary’s Festival:
would you like to come with me?
With change comes opportunity.
Opportunity for men and women
to answer the call of leadership
in our two parishes.
Opportunity for men to answer the call
to be deacons and priests!
Men: you want to make a difference?
You want to build something for God?
Here it is! Be a priest!
Look at where God put this parish.
Why did God put us here?
Like it or not,
the future of our school and our parish
is tied directly to the future
of this neighborhood and this city!
You and I can justly
be proud of our school,
our involvement in the Bethany Center,
our 24-hour chapel,
and so many other ways
that many of us, quietly,
make our community better.
But all that is just the beginning
of what God wants to build here!
With the power of the Holy Spirit,
what might you and I do
to change this neighborhood?
About crime, drugs? To help broken families,
and to keep kids in school?
I’m not sure—
I’m just beginning to ask the questions!
And I’m asking you to do the same.
Every Sunday, the Holy Spirit
comes down on us, here.
You and I have a little bit of heaven,
here in our church.
How about we take that
out into our neighborhood,
and share it and spread it, block by block?
I know—it’s not as though
we don’t all have enough to do!
But God put us here:
not to produce a trickle, but a flood.