FRIDAY HOMILY: How Far Will You Go For a Friend?
gospel that we see their true condition. From the outside, many people look just fine; they have good jobs, stable incomes and active involvement on a number of fronts.
While their exterior may appear wonderful, they feel dead on the inside. What is really needed is a deep and profound encounter with God. As our Holy Father once said, "How many people also in our time are in search of God, in search of Jesus and of his Church, in search of divine mercy, and are waiting for a 'sign' that will touch their minds and their hearts!"
There are so many who are looking for something that will make a difference in their lives and they are looking for more than just attending a Mass or a meeting. In the seventeenth century, French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal coined a phrase that describes this lack when he said, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
For many of us, it's hard to believe that people need what we have. We take our faith fore granted, not aware that others are like that paralytic on the inside.
Perhaps the first step is to take a look at our own relationship with the Lord. Back in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of pilgrims in Rome, "Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians... Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the world."
2. We can become an instrument God uses
In recent years we have heard a lot about the terms "evangelization" and the "new evangelization." Both Blessed John Paul II, who coined the latter phrase in 1983, and Pope Benedict have emphasized the importance of sharing our faith with others. They are calling us to be stretcher carriers for those who need a healing touch; this is evangelization.
Often, when we think of evangelization, we picture people going door-to-door, handing out pamphlets, or trying to engage total strangers in a theological discussion about their soul. Such visions bring about a sense of dread and discomfort.
Not only does this sound awkward but it also seems overwhelming. We wonder what to do if people ask hard questions. As stretcher carriers, we are not expected to be catechists or apologists.
For the most part, evangelization, as St. Peter described it in his first letter, simply involves being ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within (I Pt. 3:15). Through our baptism, this is our call in this new missionary age.
We can simply share our hope in the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ for our redemption and the difference that He has made in our life right now. As a stretcher carrier, we are called to bring people before Christ and leave the results with Him.
3. We must watch for divine opportunities.
One of the greatest single barriers to helping another come close to our Lord involves the issue of inconvenience. Our schedules can be so hectic and our lives already stressed. Yet, we have a call to get involved in others lives and it might get a little messy.
In our Gospel reading for today, the friends of the paralytic showed an example of true commitment to the needs of another when they headed up to the roof and dug a hole for the stretcher. They showed a determination many of us can emulate.
They also illustrated something else - an eye for opportunity.
Several months ago a friend of mine was speaking at a local chapter meeting of the Catholic Business Network. As a successful business owner, he shared in principle and example how he integrated his faith into his professional life.
One area that he highlighted was the opportunity for evangelization and I really appreciated his perspective. He shared how would approach every acquaintance and relationship from the standpoint of looking for a divine moment. He had noticed how often openings were presented where he could share something about his personal faith without being pushy.
"Watch for those divine moments," he would say. "When they come, simply plant a seed. If someone shares a problem, tell him or her you will be praying. If another expresses displeasure with their quality of life, simply comment about the importance of Christ in your life or invite them to go with your to a church event."
We have what people need - a relationship with Jesus Christ and can be used mightily to bring people to a personal faith if we make ourselves available and look for opportunities - those divine moments - when we can share.
In his apostolic exhortation, "Verbum Domini," Pope Benedict talks about the importance of our proclamation of the "Logos of hope." Here he reminds us that God has a human face and loves us with an everlasting love. Such a message is truly a great gift to the world. "We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. ... It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God's grace, we ourselves have received."
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: healing, paralytic, Jesus, evangelization
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