2017 Homilies (Written)

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John 20:19-31; 4-11-2021 (As Built, Amite #445)

 

  1. React, react. In other words, how you react. Good news, bad news, so-so news, how do you react?
  2. The year is 1300. His family lives in Venice, Italy, and they are the family, but for all the right reasons. They are devout Catholics, they are involved in the community, they get involved in everything. Their business is substantial in Venice. I mean, they take care of shipping, they do exports, they do imports, they do durable goods, they do perishable goods, they're building constructions, they work on the canals, they're involved in everything, and I got to tell you, their family is is quite essential to the city and the city to them, but it's the dad who was the patriarch. He was the go-to guy, but I got to tell you, it's his son that has all the bells and whistles. Man, his intellect is his dad's and then some. He's the guy. As a matter of fact, He knew money, currency, exchange rates, he understood the different laws and religions of the world, he understood about building and distribution, he understood about crops and planting, he understood about building the canals. I'm going to tell you, he's a chip off the block and then some. He goes to his dad and tells him “Look, we're doing good in Venice, and that's great, but someday we need to be a little further out. We need to be farther out into the world.” He said “Well, where would you suggest?” He said “China.” Nothing's changed in two thousand years. I digress. As a result of it, he says “So you want to go to the far East?” He said “Yes, I'm telling you I need to go. I'm telling you we need to expand the market. Let me go there and find out shipping routes, let me find out which guys can carry our goods, which guys cannot, which ones are honest and noteworthy, and then let us establish trade with them. It'll grow, it will take what we know and spread it throughout the world.” As a result, he goes. When he gets there he is amazed at what he sees. He sees waterways, he sees bridges so big that ships can actually go underneath them, he sees things that nobody could imagine. He says “They got canals like we do,” he said “but let me tell you,” he said “they got things we couldn't even fathom.” He becomes so popular over there that Kublai Khan himself wants to make him the governor of a province. He's so enthralled with helping that he's there for 25 years. I mean, to his family he's gone, he's dead, he's passed, he's returned home. As a result, man, he's seeing things and he said “Man, they had lighted streets, they had a police force, they had a post office, they had a fire department.” He gets back home after 25 years, you can imagine the reaction. “Oh my God, where have you been? I mean, not a letter, not a postcard, nothing. You don't call, you don't write, we thought you were dead.” He said “I'm telling you what I've seen. You think we're going to bring the world to them? They're going to bring the world to you and I.” His family is beside themselves. “No, there's no such thing.” so he starts talking to him. They get so worried about him that they call the priest to come listen to him. They're thinking of exorcising him because of what he's talking about. He said “Look, they got a rock over there that when you light it, it burns brighter and longer than the torch that lit it. It's this big, black rock.” You and I call it coal. He said “It got so good that they had a liquid that they would put in a lamp, it would light up their walkways, they'd light up their streets and their canals, and it was this black liquid. It would burn even longer and brighter than the rock did.” You and I call it oil. He said “When we want to put out a fire, they don't use dust, or water, or whatever. They actually have a fabric.” You and I call it asbestos. By this time the family can't take it. Their reaction, “He's got a demon in him, time to exercise him.” As a result, the priest comes. The priest doesn't even believe him. He says “Father, I'm telling you, they got an animal,” he said “it’s- it's ten foot long,” he said “I'm telling you, it eats anything and everything. As a matter of fact, I don't know anything that eats it. You gotta stay away from it, it's always in the waterways, it's always in the canals, he kind of has his own territory.” You and I call it an alligator. Well, man, pretty soon they think that he's just lost his mind, and their reaction was “He needs help.” but the fact of the matter is, brothers and sisters in Christ, is that their reaction was flawed and, to this day, he's probably the greatest traveler of the world. Magellan? Please. Magellan, he couldn't find what he needed with gps. This guy could get where he needed to be. As a matter of fact, my brothers and sisters in Christ, you know him. As a matter of fact, the only time you bring up his name is when you're near water. Oh Lord, I saw three people nod. I don't know if they were just dozing, but maybe they got it. He was in a Geico commercial not long ago. As a result, man, one of them yells the front name, the other one yells the back name depending on whether you're it, or whether you're being chased, or whatever the case may be. Yes my brothers and sisters in Christ, you know him as Marco Polo. The reaction is that's all we know him as today.
  3. That is exactly the Gospel. How did the apostles react? Notwithstanding Thomas, all 11, 10 getting rid of St. Thomas not being there, Judas has already departed, they're behind a locked door as if somehow another that would keep the centurions at bay. Their reaction to Christ's crucifixion is that they're scared to death. Now imagine you and I are there, you and I are going to be part of the 10. Man, what's the first thing he does? “Peace be with you.” as he walks through a locked door. You and I are such in shock he's still got to show you his hands and his side. Why? Because we don't believe, yet we beat Thomas up, but why would you have showed us your hands, and your feet, and your side if we believe? He's got to say “Peace be with you.” again. This is where the Jews come up with shalom, in other words “peace”, and then he's got to show him his hands and his feet so that they believe. My brothers and sisters in Christ, now stop for a minute. This takes place on Easter Sunday night, the next Sunday is when Thomas gets the memo. Man, if you had been there, what if Thomas’s reaction would have been when they said “You're not going to believe this, we saw the Lord. I'm telling you, he walked through a locked door, he showed us his hands and his side, he breathed on us and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. The sins you committed are forgiven and the ones we retain are retained.’ What do you think thomas?” What if Thomas says ‘Mhm.” and walks off? Would we be saying “Mhm” Thomas 2,000 years later? You know, he was speared to death but nobody gives him credit for that end of it. My brothers and sisters in Christ, did you see the very first thing, the very first thing, the first sacrament after the Eucharist is confession. Nowhere in that paragraph did you hear him say “You can go directly to me and skip these guys, I'm just doing this because it sounds good.” He said “I'm breathing on you so that you can feel the Holy Spirit.” This is why every sacrament has an outward sign, it's an outward sign of an inward reality. This is why water is used, so when it hits your head, or your child's head, that you know when the sins are forgiven. This is why you wear the white garment, so that we can see your soul as God sees it. This is why we use a pall at the mass of the funeral. Why? That's their baptismal garment. This is why when you go to mass, you hear the bells ring. An outward sign of an inward reality. This is why you go to confession and you hear “Your sins are forgiven.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, what Thomas is bringing to light is the sacrament of confession, and make sure you understand this too. The good Lord said “My hands.” He never said “My wrist.” In Greek, he's actually referring to the palm. He says “Stick your finger in my palm, in my hands.” I know there's the argument “Oh, it had to be in the wrist, this, that, and the other.” I'm just telling you, in Scripturehe was clear, and then he repeated it when Thomas showed up. It's in his hands. My brothers and sisters in Christ, imagine now, this is how it is, this is how it has been since they've been sitting in this room. Now they've come to believe. 
  4. My brothers and sisters in Christ, now think. Go back in Scripture. All of our best players react like other people do not. They act very Christ-like, so therefore... Think about it, Mary Magdalene, she gets up on Easter Sunday morning. She has now got to wake up when everybody else is sleeping. That's her reaction. “I'd rather be near a dead savior than live people.” The boulder, when she gets there, has been removed. The soldiers are not there. My brothers and sisters in Christ, think for a minute. When she finds out the tomb is empty her reaction could have been “Wow, what a cluster this is going to be. I'm out.” and turns around and walks away. Her words are “Where have they laid him?” She's going to find the body, do what you say, say what you want to do, but her reaction to what was coming was “I want to be near him, dead or alive.” and because she does that, she's the first to see the risen Christ, even before the vicar himself, Peter. Imagine the reaction of Paul. He is Saul and he's blinded for three days. He's blind for three days. Nobody told him that at the end of the third day you're going to be okay. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he saw one minute fame, fortune, money, pharisees, he's got everything that he wants and, all of a sudden, he's thrown to the ground, and next thing you know, he's blind for three days. His reaction is that he becomes Paul. He becomes probably the first Jewish convert, if you will, the first Jewish orator who now is a new covenant Jew. That was his reaction. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you know, there's a story about Saint Peter. Say what you want about him, man, I know. Look, Peter sometimes would open his mouth, look, we all get that, we've all been there, but what most people don't know is what happens later in life according to Saint Anselm. Peter has now been the vicar for 33 years, it's the year 66. At the urging of the people, he has decided that it's best that he leave Rome because they're coming for him to crucify him. Just being honest, they see the church as the snake and they want to cut the head of the snake off, so if they can get to Peter and they kill him like they killed Christ, this would be the end of the Catholics. As a result of it, he is leaving Rome through the back way, and he gets to a place in the road and, all of a sudden, the good Lord is there and the words are spoken “Quo vadis Peter?” The good Lord is asking him “Where are you going?” and Peter, well, “They're about to crucify me.” and the good Lord is standing on a boulder and then begins walking back to Rome, and then Peter returns it to him “Domine quo vadis? And where are you going?” and he says “Well, if you're not going to get crucified, then I need to go back and do it again. I told you Peter, someday they're going to take you where you don't want to go, and lead you by people you prefer not to be with in a matter you don't want to be dressed, albeit upside down.” Today in Rome, if you were near the catacombs, there's a little church called Saint Mary's. It’s half the size of what we have here, and in the middle of the walkway are two footprints on stone with rebar across the top, the footprints of Christ when he says “Quo vadis Peter? Where are you going?” I’ve got to tell you, it's a no-nothing little church. If you drove by it, you'd never imagine that that relic is inside the church. His reaction was priceless, and he returns. He is crucified upside down and, according to tradition, an hour as he's going to be crucified, he turns to his wife who was martyred before him, Porphyria is her name according to tradition, he says “Go with God.” That's his reaction to being martyred.
  5. Here you and I sit 2,000 years later. What is your reaction when things go South? Well, let's see. My brothers and sisters in Christ, when you get that bad news, or you get that email, that text message, what is your first reaction? You get so incensed and so mad that you just want to write something down and hit that send button hoping it knocks them out when they read it, or, man, you get that news and that phone call and it takes everything you have in your essence to even hang up the phone? My brothers and sisters in Christ, those first minutes when you receive that bad message will dictate whether you react like Christ or you will not. When you get that bad news and somebody cut you off in traffic, man, what's the first words out of your mouth? Is it “God bless you.” or maybe “You're number one.” you just got to look closely what finger just got put up? Maybe you pull up alongside them and give them the look? How Christ-like is it? Is that what your reaction was predicated on? When you get that letter, that email, or when your boss tells you something you didn't want to hear, or one of your subordinates that works with you says something you don't want to hear, what is your reaction to them? What is your reaction to your spouse, or to your children, or to your parents? What happens when you get that test back, you didn't do as well as you like? My brothers and sisters in Christ, when things don't go your way, man, you're going to get so upset, you want to have a pity party for a month? I’ll tell you what, have your pity party, go outside, kick your dog, kick your neighbor's dog, do whatever you got to do. Now get back in the game because how you react to it will dictate whether or not you're a disciple of Jesus Christ. I don't care what comes your way, the evil one is watching and he's bringing everything he can against you. He knows your very thoughts and how you're going to react to them. As a result of such, be careful how you react. How will people know that Christ exists if you and I as Catholic men and women do not go out and show them? Man, it's not enough just to speak it, you got to be able to walk the walk. 
  6. I'll leave you with this, the words of Mother Teresa. At every funeral I pray this prayer because I think it's absolutely profound. If this is not divine-esque through Mother Teresa, the poem is called Anyway, and to remind you and I how we need to react anyway. “People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are honest, people will cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are happy, people will be jealous. You be happy anyway. You spent a lifetime building something they destroyed overnight, you build it again tomorrow. Build it anyway because it was never between you and them, it was between you and him, anyway.” The problems will come. How you react to it determines your future. 
  7. Amen.

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