Sunday, October 25, 2015

Do you want to see? 'Get up, Jesus is calling you' (Sunday homily)

Just now, our Lord Jesus asked a question: 
“What do you want me to do for you?” 
And the man answered: “I want to see.”

It’s a question for us: do we want to see? 
that is, more than we’re seeing now.

Do we want to see…the needs of others? 

You and I know they exist—but do we want to see them, 
so they become our concern? 

Are we willing to deal with others’ hunger and poverty? 
A lot of us are pretty insulated from these things. 
If we really want to see these things, 
we can do as some of our students did on Friday, 
and visit a soup kitchen in Troy. 

If we ask the Lord, he’ll show us ways to do it. 
For example, there are pans for casseroles in the vestibule. 
Last time, I think I made four casseroles—it wasn’t hard. 
Let’s make an abundance of good, home-cooked food 
for people who are hungry.

My point is, there are things for us to see, 
if we want to see them; and if we don’t, we won’t.

If we don’t want to see our lives as any different 
tomorrow from today…we won’t.

That blind man Bartimaeus began “to see” long before he met Jesus. 
He “saw” that Jesus could change things – 
so he waited, and he prayed, 
and when Jesus drew near, he called out. 
So much so that he became a nuisance to others, 
and they tried to shame him into silence.

That happens to us. 
You and I start to make a change, 
and someone will often laugh at our ambition, 
or try to talk us out of it. 
We stir things up, and someone will say, 
look, it’s always been that way, don’t rock the boat. 
Sit down, be quiet – let things go along just the way they were.

If you and I want to see a change in ourselves, 
how badly do we want it? What will we do for it?

One of the easiest steps to changing 
somehow ends up being the hardest for many of us – 
and that is praying for it.

If we want something to change, 
mentioning it in prayer now and again isn’t going to get it done. 
The thing about prayer: as C.S. Lewis said, 
prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us. 

And as we all know, we don’t usually change very fast. 
Most of us change slow. 
So if we’re going to pray for something, 
and if we expect anything to change, 
we’re going to have to be like Bartimaeus, 
and cry out, “Jesus, Jesus!” over and over. 
And when our laziness or distractions seek to silence our praying, 
cry out all the louder!

Here’s something a lot of us want to see change in ourselves: 
what we know about our Faith. 
So many of us want to learn more, and be able to teach our children. 
But that can be hard, 
because we can’t go when the things are scheduled; 
we have work, or soccer practice, or children at home – 
How many of you have said, Gee, if only what they were offering 
were on days or at times that worked for my schedule!

Well, I have good news for you: your prayer has been heard!
An opportunity has – almost literally – fallen in your lap!

You’re going to see on the cover of today’s bulletin 
a program called “Symbolon” – 
it’s a series of video presentations 
about the basics of our Catholic Faith; it’s very good, 
and it’s available online—
that is, over your computer or iPads or even your phone.

Because our parish has a subscription to this program, 
every one of us has access to this for FREE. 
Anytime, day or night, you can view these quality teaching materials.

And it’s not just one program. 
When you sign on, you’ll access a library of choices, 
about all the topics we all are interested in. 
The saints; the history of the Church; tough moral dilemmas; 
the sacraments; the Holy Mass. 

There are topics aimed at married couples, at singles, 
at teens and younger children.  

It’s all yours, it’s all available to you, right now. 
Well, not right now; you have to wait till Mass is over!

Here’s what I want to propose to you. 
And – by the way, this was an idea our parish staff came up with. 

The idea is this: in the weeks before Christmas, 
as our Advent preparation, 
let’s all look at this Symbolon series together. 
Now, there are actually 20 videos in the Symbolon series – 
so we’d just be using the first half for our Advent preparation.

With the information in today’s bulletin, 
each of us can go ahead and watch this material.
But we also thought many would like the opportunity 
to be part of a discussion group. 

This serves several purposes: 
first, talking about it can help us make more sense of the material. 
Second, it can be a way to get out and meet friends.
Third, if you have someone in your circle who is sort of “wandering,” 
this is a friendly way to draw them back. 
And, finally, having a meeting each week 
keeps us accountable so we actually watch the videos!

By the way, this invitation isn’t just for whoever shows up at Mass. 
Everyone in our parish boundaries, Catholic or not, 
is invited to take part. 

For that reason, we sent out a flyer 
to every household in Russia and Houston. 
We want everyone to know who Jesus is, his forgiveness, 
and the life he offers in the Holy Spirit. 
So, you’ll get a flyer too, but don’t worry – 
it’s super-cheap and actually easier to do it that way 
than to try to send it only to non-parishioners. 

So: do we want to see…more people around us share our Faith? 
This is a way to draw them. Let’s pray that new faces will show up 
at our discussion groups, and let’s make them welcome.

Over the next two weeks, you’ll be asked at Mass 
to make a commitment: first, to watching the video series, 
and second, whether you’ll attend a discussion group.

There’s no cost involved; we’re not recruiting anyone for anything. 
We’re just trying to share the Good News Jesus has brought us.

I’m proud of our staff who came up with this idea. 
And I’m excited, 
because this is what a Catholic parish is supposed to do: 
to be a house of light and hope in Jesus Christ, 
drawing everyone to its open doors. 

And, if you will permit me to be very blunt: 
for anyone who ever said, in the past, 
it was too hard to take part in a faith-building program…

We’ve made this about as EASY as we can. 

If you’ve been telling yourself, 
I need to get moving, I need to grow, here it is. 
As we heard in the Gospel: 
"Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you."

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