Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The mess is the message-9/29/13 homily

The mess is the message. After a difficult gospel, a little light hearted humor will help. It seems Mr. Jones' dog died. He approached the parish priest to ask if he could have a funeral mass for his dog. "Now you know I cannot do that" Fr McGillicudy replied. "Well", Mr. Jones said, " I thought I would give it a try.....Say there is another denomination in town. Do you think $500.00 would be appropriate for such a service?" "Mr. Jones" Fr McGillicudy interrupted, "you didn't tell me your dog was Catholic!"....There are two major messages to take away from today's Gospel. Moral blindness, and the ability to see God in the mess. Lazarus is in a mess. We do not know how he got there. Perhaps he was born poor. Maybe he squandered his living. Regardless, he is in a bad place. I want to share three stories of how people are/were in a mess but found God in the mess. This past Thursday a friend invited me to go Fluke fishing out in Long Island sound. Before leaving, I blessed the boat. We got down to the Niantic river boat launch, put the boat in and.....nothing....after about 25 attempts to get the motor started we ate our sandwiches and then packed up to go back home. Undaunted we figured we would give it a shot on Gardiner's Lake. Sure enough, on the second attempt...Vrrooom...we were in business. We toured the lake a couple of times when suddenly an alarm went off. My friend shut down the motor and we anchored. Fortunately it started again and we were able to make it to shore. "You know" he said, I was going to make a sarcastic comment about the blessing of yours but I think it really did work. Who knows what kind of trouble we could have gotten into out on the sound?" I thought that was a nice way of looking at it. He could see the blessing in the mess. There is another story about a young woman who lost her father after a heart transplant. Overcome with grief in an airport she sat down and sobbed. She felt arms around her and a familiar voice. "Can I help you maa'm?" It was the actor Kevin Costner. She told him her story and he consoled her and even missed his flight. As he was leaving to board his flight home he told her that he would be coming back to that city to make a film. Driving down the road several months later the woman got caught in a traffic jam. "I wonder" she thought.."if this is because of Kevin Costner's movie." She disregarded the thought and went home. The next day the same thing occurred. She decided to stop. A security officer brought her over to Mr. Costner. He invited her to stay to see them film a scene and offered her a seat. Shortly thereafter one of the Executive Producers came over and shared with her the meaning of some of the shots. The two were enjoying their conversation greatly, in fact that night the young lady called her mother and said "Mom...I just met the man of my dreams tonight." Shortly thereafter they began dating and a year later they were engaged to be married. The mess is the message. The following story is particularly inspirational. In 1992 two brothers, Magnus and Fergus Mac-Farlane Barrow from Scotland, watched the tv news from the Bosnian conflict with increasing horror. They were so moved that they decided to organize an appeal for food and blankets. Their family had visited an international pilgrimage sight, Medjugorje, in 1983, and the parents had openend their home into a guest and prayer house. Magnus and Fergus quickly gathered a jeep load, joined one of the convoys leaving the UK, and delivered the aid to Medjugorje. They thought it would be a one and done visit but God had other plans. Public donations continued to flood in. Magnus decided to give up his job as a Salmon fisherman for a year as long as the public kept donating. Soon it became necessary to set up a registered charity-Scottish International Relief. The charity soon expanded and began to work in Romania, building homes for abandoned children, and in Liberia, helping returning refugees by setting up mobile clinics, while continuing to deliver material aid to Croatia and Bosnia. In 2002 S.I.R. was operating a simple famine relief project in Malawi when Magnus met a family that led to a whole new area of work. The mother was dying of AIDS and lying on the floor of her hut surrounded by her six young children. She said that all that was left for her was to pray for her children, that someone might look after them after she had died....when Magnus asked her oldest son what he hoped for in life, his stark reply "to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day." This is what led to the Mary's Meals campaign. SIR became Mary's Meals in 2012 and aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day. In this way the children are encouraged to gain the education that can lift them out of poverty later in life. This simple but effective idea has gained momentum and today provides meals to impoverished children in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and South America. Presently Mary's Meals is now feeding 792,621 children every day. Lazarus is still with us. The sin of the Rich man (nameless) is that he was blind to the existence of Lazarus. This can be a danger for us in a materialistic culture. He uses the image of a door to block him from the personal encounter with Lazarus, hence, Lazarus loses his humanity (as stressed by the dogs licking his sores). World Hunger is still a major problem. We can disagree on the means of providing the proper treatment and distribution, but here are some interesting stats. The number of children who die each year from hunger-1.5 million; The % of the world considered to be starving-33%. The time between deaths of people who die from hunger-3.6 seconds. 18,085 people died of hunger today. 8,288, 925 people died of hunger this year. The number of tons of food wasted today in America: 77, 723; The number of tons of Global food aid provided today:16, 201. 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. Magnus is now the Father of seven and a devout Catholic. He saw the mess in Bosnia and responded. My hope is that someone here will be inspired and respond with Christ's love to any number of different situations. Lazarus is still here. The young lady found that by staying in hope her mess became a wonderful message. Two friends on a fishing trip learned to find a message in their mess. What about you?