Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunday Sermon

February 24, 2013
The Second Sunday in Lent
Our Father Who Art in Heaven,
Don't interrupt me. I'm praying.
But -- you called ME!
Called you? No, I didn't call you. I'm praying. Our Father who art in Heaven.
There -- you did it again!
Did what?
Called ME. You said, "Our Father who art in Heaven" Well, here I am. What's on your mind?
But I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like fulfilling a duty.
Well, all right. Go on.
Okay, Hallowed be thy name.
Hold it right there. What do you mean by that?
By what?
By "Hallowed be thy name"?
It means, it means. . good grief, I don't know what it means. How in the world should I know? It's just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?
It means honored, holy, wonderful.
Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what 'hallowed' meant before. Thanks. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Do you really mean that?
Sure, why not?
What are you doing about it?
Doing? Why, nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind or neat if you got control, of everything down here like you have up there. We're kinda in a mess down here you know.
Yes, I know; but, have I got control of you?
Well, I go to church.
That isn't what I asked you. What about your bad temper? You've really got a problem there, you know. And then there's the way you spend your money -- all on yourself. And what about the kind of books you read?
Now hold on just a minute! Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of the rest of those people at church!
Excuse ME. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you -- for example...
Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others. I haven't thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.
Good. Now we're getting somewhere. We'll work together, -- You and ME. I'm proud of You.
Look, Lord, if you don't mind, I need to finish up here... This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. Give us this day, our daily bread.
You need to cut out the bread. You're overweight as it is.
Hey, wait a minute! What is this? Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups.
Praying is a dangerous thing. You just might get what you ask for. Remember, you called ME -- and here I am. It's too late to stop now. Keep praying.
(. pause . . .)
Well, go on.
I'm scared to.
Scared? Of what?
I know what you'll say.
Try ME.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
What about Ann?
See? I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories. She never paid back the money she owes me. I've sworn to get even with her!
But -- your prayer -- about your prayer?
I didn't -- mean it.
Well, at least you're honest. But, it's quite a load carrying around all that bitterness and resentment isn't it?
Yes, but I'll feel better as soon as I get even with her. Boy, have I got some plans for her. She'll wish she had never been born.
No, you won't feel any better. You'll feel worse. Revenge isn't sweet. You know how unhappy you are -- Well, I can change that.
You can? How?
Forgive Ann. Then, I'll forgive you; And the hate and the sin, will be Ann's problem -- not yours. You will have settled the problem as far as you are concerned.
Oh, you know, you're right. You always are. And more than I want revenge, I want to be right with You. . (Sigh). All right all right. . I forgive her.
There now! Wonderful! How do you feel?
Hmmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all! In fact, I feel pretty great! You know, I don't think I'll go to bed uptight tonight. I haven't been getting much rest, you know.
Yeah, I know. But, you're not through with your prayer are you? Go on.
Oh, all right. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Good! Good! I'll do that. Just don't put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.
What do you mean by that?
You know what I mean.
Yeah. I know. Okay.
Go ahead. Finish your prayer.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Do you know what would bring me glory -- What would really make me happy?
No, but I'd like to know. I want to please you now. I've really made a mess of things. I want to truly follow you. I can see now how great that would be. So, tell me . . . How do I make you happy?
YOU just did.

In today’s Epistle reading, St. Paul says something that many of us hear from the Church and her ministers quite often. It is amazing when you think about it; the reading was written almost two thousand years ago, and yet it speaks as if it were written today. “…their minds are set on earthly things.” In other words, they are set on worldly things. No matter how much time changes things; things remain the same. We think the technological advancements seem to give us much distraction, yet it appears even without these advancements, people addressed as the Philippians apparently had similar issues of distraction from God. Our minds are set on worldly things.
How often do we hear this from various ministers of the church? Probably, sometimes, more than we would like. We will listen to the words and rationalize our lives as if somehow we are having the same conversation with God as the man who was trying to pray the Our Father prayer. We try to make ourselves believe we are really living a good life and not allowing all the distractions and temptations from making us detour in our life’s cycle.  But are we really? Truth be told, we are too distracted and tempted.
St. Paul makes it clear that he has not yet reached his goal. He has not yet been raised and not yet perfect. Resurrection and perfection are, for Christians, goals to be pursued, not ones we already have. St. Paul states that the Philippians, and thus we, should imitate him. Obviously, he is not asking us to imitate him completely, but in the manner in which he is attempting to reach the goal as a follower of Christ. St. Paul is making it clear that this is continuous work.
This goal should be like that of an Olympic athlete, such as like a runner, who goes on to win the prize, not concerned with whom they have passed by, because they have their eyes on the prize. The athlete is in the world; running in the world; even uses the world to be the best athlete he can be; but seemingly oblivious to those things in the world that would distract them from the prize. He has to be in the world. He has to have the proper running clothes and shoes. He must have a trainer and do an immense amount of training. In-between these things, he has his life away from the track, but still with his mind on the prize and how he must live his life off the track, to keep his life on the track in step. He cannot eat multiple pounds of candy and snacks; smoking excessively; spend many nights out in the clubs; skip his training sessions; and still expect to perform with a winning performance on the track. He simply can’t do all that and win. Period.
Our lives are much the same. Living a life that is not in line with being a winning track star – a faithful follower of Christ – will not win the ending goal and win the prize. Those who do not live in this state of almost constant training and temperate non-training time, are like those St. Paul refers to as the “...enemies of the cross of Christ.”
How easy it is for our minds to be set on earthly things. Daily responsibilities and the lure of a good life quickly consume our thoughts and energy. Are we living in the moment, keeping our eyes on the goal, or are we living for “me”? It is easy to become entrenched in this. We can be with a group of people, and easily become disappointed if the group is not following what we want or going where we want to go. Is it important in the end? Are we focusing too much on ourselves – are we too focused on what is driving us at the moment? Are we so engrossed in the present, trying to live in ease and luxury?
We are enemies of the cross when our goals are fixed on this life, be it looking out for our own economic well-being without concern for society, striving to fulfill personal drives and pleasures regardless of the impact on others, or living for the moment contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Like St. Paul, we should count everything in our lives as loss, because our citizenship is in heaven. We are merely foreigners in a foreign land, on borrowed time. Our citizenship is in heaven. Christ is there, interceding for us, our advocate before the throne of the Father.
Our hope as Christians is found with Christ in the heavens. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we will find the answer to all our desires. As we fix our eyes on Jesus; we will find answer to all our desires. We will begin even now to know the power and love of God through Christ in a way that will bring life and hope to the world as we interact with those around us and respond to the suffering we see.
A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by His little daughter, Stacy.
Finally, he tore a sheet out of his magazine on which was printed the map of the world. Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Stacy and said, "Go into the other room and see if you can put this together."
After a few minutes, Stacy returned and handed him the map, correctly fitted and taped together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly. "Oh," she said, "on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus, when I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then the world just came together."
Sometimes our life is like the map of the world. It fits together better when we put Jesus together, thus into our lives, and the rest becomes easier to see. Like I say so very often….. Being Catholic is a way of life, not just a religion. Today’s reading helps us to see how this little teaching of mine can be so true.
When we take the principle of Jesus, knowing we are not yet perfect and have yet to be raised from our own death, all the while trying to live a good Catholic Christian life. It can be as simple as in the conversation of the man with God that I relayed to you earlier. It can be as simple as remembering to say grace at meals, even in public, even further if no one with you normally does or is even a practicing Christian. Maybe it can be as simple as saying just a few short prayers at morning and before bed. How about reading a short Bible passage each day. How about forgiving someone that is hard for you to forgive. Maybe spending an hour each day with our Blessed Lord. Doesn’t have to necessarily be prayer, it can be reading something Christian or religious based. Or working a crossword puzzle on the Bible. Anything that helps your mind focus just a little bit more on God. Just as Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, may He be transfigured in your life events also.
I will end with this little missive that that a variation of was posted on Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
The biggest man with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest man with the smallest mind. Think big anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
If better is possible, then good is not enough.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.