Saturday, June 15, 2013

50+.....The Challenge...

"I became what I never thought I would " are lines from one of my favorite John Denver songs." (Some days are diamond, Somedays are Stone.") They sprang up when I was reflecting on last weekend. June 8th was my Golden Jubilee Anniversary Mass, I am so grateful to all who made it a special celebration. To be honest, I have real trouble writing those words golden jubilee. When I was younger, a golden jubileearian was a real old f.....! You can fill in the blank with what you think is a good word to describe Fr. Joe as he is right now. ( I would love to be able to read your minds, right now.) I must remind you who read this effort, I was ordained in the 60s. What a awe-full, wonder-full time that was. These were the times when we did not trust anyone over 30. Back then, I was not able to imagine my living beyond 30. Thirty was going to be the end. Beyond that there was to be no living. Yet I am alive today with some of the those same thoughts, ideas, ideals, and dreams. The Mammas and The Papas were big back then. "There is a new world a coming" sang Momma Cass. These words encapsulated what the dream of so many was. A world that was "coming in peace, coming in joy, coming in love." Do not those words sum up the kingdom that is supposed to be coming into reality in "the present age." Growing into old age does not, and cannot, put an end to the dream, or the dreamer. We, in our old age, I now have come to believe, are called, are challenged, to shout out that dream so ancient and so new, all the louder. When you are old you have so little to lose, so you can take the risk? On second thought, is it really a risk? In this raising of our voices are to bring, not comfort, but discomfort. We must challenge all the forces that conspire to frustrate the "coming of The Kingdom". We must point to the great warning in the scriptures, that the "angels of darkness, will appear as angels of light", was The Historical Jesus conspired against by outwardly evil people? For goodness sake, it was the religious leaders who conspired with ,the secular power, to destroy Him. Those out-worldly good people, who we men of God, did not recognize the manifestation, the appearance of God when He became enfleshed. Their minds were so conditions that anything contrary to what they knew to be true, was a lie. There was no challenge tolerated. Jesus's death was brought about because He spoke a new truth, that challenged the status quo. He was counter- cultural. He pointed out that the old way was coming to an end, and a New Dawn had already broken upon the world. A new Light had come into the world to shine light where it had never shone before. To light up the lives of all those who lived in darkness, and who were, sad to say, kept in darkness. Jesus was ostracized, why? Because He broke rules that kept people in bondage. Those religious rules He broke to raise the only son of a widowed mother. In last Sundays gospel, when He healed the leper by touching him, He himself from there on was to be treated as on would treat a leper. How we going to treat the "lepers" of our time, and in the place we meet them. Who is the leper for you and I? We have to name that "leper" when we meet him/her on the outside. is the task finished there? No! Of course not. Now we have to journey inside, to meet that "leper" who is dwelling within in the depths of who we are. Still not finished? Yep!!! Now we have to follow the exhortation of St. Francis, which is, "kiss the leper within". In this way we are readying ourselves to be willing participants in the vision of our Pope Francis "to be a church for the poor". We can pay lip service to those challenging words, and the consequent actions, of our Supreme Shepherd. As we meet The Pope's challenge, we too are going to be challenged. That is the what is to be expected when we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Is not persecution guaranteed, in the gospels? As The Lord was treated so are we. Jerusalem is our destiny. (As you know I love that prayer). Each one will have a unique trail to travel. Our way to our Jerusalem, is a hike over rough, and varied terrain. There are many, many, deserts, lush green valleys, and barren mountain tops." It is, a long, long road from which there is no return" (Neil Diamond.), there is no looking back. There will joy and sorrow, war and peace, crucifixions, deaths, and resurrections. As it was with our Suffering Good Shepherd so it will be for us. Let move resolutely forward in the knowledge and belief that there will be NO obstacle on the trail which will be too much for our God and us. So let us act like we are on a trail putting one foot in front of the other. Conscious of where we are at each moment, and knowing that in that moment we are safe.