Tuesday, November 22, 2011

By Patient Endurance You Will Save Your Life

At St. Matthias parish we are blessed with the presence of Fr. Dan Murphy who occasionally celebrates daily Mass with us. So often I hear people say that these are "the end times" and so I found his homily today to be especially beautiful and comforting. I asked him if I could share his words here so that others might also be comforted by his tender and true words and he agreed. His homily follows:

By patient endurance you will save your life.
-Luke 21:19

Some people don’t seem to be satisfied until they have something to worry about; even imaginary troubles. Jesus tells us about some calamities today. The beautiful temple of Jerusalem —it’ll be torn down; not one stone on another. There will be false messiahs. There will be wars, natural disasters and the betrayals of friends and relatives. And sure enough, that's exactly what happened. And every one of these things has happened over and over again ever since.

Can you think of one generation that hasn’t seen wars, hurricanes, floods, persecutions and the collapse of some sacred institution? In just the past few years we watched the awesome Twin Towers in New York get smashed to dust. We watched the unfolding of the priest sex abuse disaster and the Catholic bishops attempt to cover it up. Even in your own personal life, you’ve had events that felt like an earthquake.

Are you ready for some good news? Jesus answers: "By patient endurance you will save your life." Jesus warns you to avoid the easy answers. He knew that many false messiahs would come, using his name. And they have. These people claim to have an easy, quick solution to all of your problems. What’s his advice? Don't follow them. Yes, it’s a big temptation to think of faith in God as an easy way out. “Are you in financial difficulty? Try Jesus. He’ll make you rich. Is your health failing? Try Jesus. He’ll make you well."

Is that what he promised? Does he give easy escapes from the very real problems of life? Oh no! It’s just the opposite. “They will persecute you because of my name. All will hate you because of me.” That doesn't sound like an easy escape to me. Jesus has no easy answers. But he does have a promise. "Not a hair of your head will be harmed." "I will be with you always."

When all’s going wrong, you can count on that promise, on that loving presence, on that unfailing nearness. “Come to me all you who find life a heavy burden and I will refresh you.”

The future is in the hands of God. And that’s the best place for it to be. The future is not in your control. You’ll only make yourself sick by trying to go there. The only time that God gives you is right now.

So, don’t look for him on a pink cloud or with a jeweled crown. Look for him in our gathering together right here, right now. Look for him in the words of the Bible, in the Host you cradle in your hand and on your tongue. Look for him at home, on the faces of your dear ones. But look for him especially where he told you to look: in the faces of people who are hungry and thirsty. Look for him in the people who feel alone. Look for him in people who are defenseless, those who feel sick and even for people who are locked up in prison. And the next time you glance at a mirror look for him inside of you. He’s in there. Honor him.

At those times when it’s hard to live in the present moment. Listen to the voice of Jesus: “My name is God-with-you. I will wipe away all the tears from your eyes. There will be no more death, mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone.” Yes, it’s time to stop worrying because:

By patient endurance you will save your life.

Whether the Lord is coming this Thanksgiving or a thousand years from now, that’s none of your business. Your task is to live as if he were arriving this very day. Some day he will come in power and glory to wipe away every tear. But today he’s coming quietly, softly, invisibly.

By patient endurance you will save your life.

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