Sunday, November 25, 2012

'If Necessary, Use Words'

Readings for October 28, 2012, 30th Sunday in Ordinary time 2012:

The Solemnity of Christ the King 2012

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
November 25, 2012

Once again the question is posed, "who do you say that I am?" This exchange between Pilot and Jesus is one that goes on in our world every day of our lives. "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Jesus also said in the second reading, "I am the Alpha and the Omega the one who is who was and who is to come, the Almighty." My question is, if you and I know that this Jesus is the way the truth and the life, why do we not listen to him?

What I want us to do today, is to recall fathers homily from last week concerning the four last things, death, judgment, heaven or hell. Not so much to follow-up on what father said but bring to us a realization that it is the life we lead here on earth that finally brings us, to the four last things. Because at that point, in talking of death, it is too late to make changes.

With what is been going on in our world and in our church I want to turn your attention to the family. Father told me in the sacristy this past week that it is the family, good Catholic holy families that will rebuild the church and our world.

So now I am going to tell you a story about what has been going on here in the parish for the last many months. It so happened that one Sunday father gave a homily on being good and he did a good job.

Next week was my week to preach and I titled my homily out loud, 'good isn't good enough you have to be holy.' That began a wonderful experience between the young people and some older people and myself as I would greet him after mass and say, be good, and they will respond you be holy.

No doubt some of you were wondering what was going on because Deacon has a way of forgetting to turn my mike off, but this has become an even greater experience for all of us because finally now in the last weeks I have added something to that little exchange. After greeting them to be good and their response to be holy I would ask them if they're preaching the gospel?

That brought a great deal of consternation to some of the of the children, but then I would explain to them the story of St. Francis, who going out one day with one of his young man to preach the gospel and returning back to the monastery, the young man said we didn't do any preaching.

Francis responded, 'what you think we been doing all day.' and then explains to him that you preach the gospel more clearly by who you are and what you do and how you respond to people. Then finally he says, If necessary, use words.

What a wonderful way to look at life! But the reality is clearly that even as father and I preach to you from this pulpit it is your vocation to preach the gospel at home and in the public square. I asked one of the girls where I have lunch, if she has been preaching the gospel she responded, "I've been very good".

My primary concern today is the family. To be very blunt, if the family is to save the church and nation then each family must become holy. That means that, in that family there is order and there is truth. That means that father can't be mother and mother can't be father and the children cannot be both, mother and father.

Another story: quite a number of years ago, I took in a catechetical workshop at Steubenville and for the most part it was a it was a good workshop and one of the rooms was concerned about the relationship between the teacher and the students and finally the man started talking about self-esteem which he carried to the point where finally, I just had no choice, I raise my hand and said, "I'm sorry that I have to be the one to tell you this, but all you're doing is raising self-centered selfish spoiled brats.” That ended that.

On the way out of the room a lady grabbed my arm and she said to me, ”you don't know how true your words are," she said to me. And I responded oh yes I do I have seven children and have been teaching for over 20 years and then she tells me her story. Her little daughter in grade school would come home and order mother around the house and if mother didn't respond to her demands she was hurting her self-esteem, OK. Remember: children cannot be parents; and parents cannot be children.

More then once I have said, "not in my house you don't"!

Any time this role of father, mother and children are kicked out of order you will have chaos in the house. Sometimes even make that house almost unlivable: but on the other hand if father and mother and the children know their place in the family there will be truth, there will be joy, there will be happiness and extreme hope. Given the human condition problems will arise but with great love and God's grace problems can become a simple pothole on the road.

Here's another story: and I'm telling you this story not to make you believe that I'm the greatest dad in the world because that is far from the truth, but the story is important to put in perspective the relationship between mother and son.

One day my oldest son calls me in the phone, he's been to college working at a place on Lake Street and apparently was acting like a absent-minded professor. How bad this was as a problem I really don't know. But they sent him to a psychiatrist and as he is telling me the story I'm saying under my breath "oh my God what did mom and dad do wrong now."

He goes on to tell me that as the psychiatrist reviews the now many pages of questions and answers in this investigation he comes to the section on the family. The question was asked "when did your dad get most angry with you?" His response was " when I mean-mouthed my mother." My son told me, then, that he skipped the entire section on the family saying there's no problems here, what a sigh of relief!

The point in telling you this story is to emphasize the proper relationship between parents and children. How often do I tell little children, obey your mother. So what about dad? So don't you know, that when you obey mother you are also obeying dad?

Yes I know I'm carrying on a little bit today but there's one other area that I would like to have us consider. We teach in Catholic CCD the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. As I would teach this I would hold up their mothers as the perfect example of one who lives out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. At random: who welcomed you when you were naked and homeless, who fed you when you were hungry, who gave you to drink when you are thirsty, who visited when you are sick, who comforted you when you were in sorrow, who corrected your faults, and who gave you encouragement, and on and on it could go.

We can then momentarily look back at the questions we started with, "who you say that I am?" Are we seeking to be good and holy with the intention of preaching the gospel always?

Maybe this last question is the most important of all, "dad and mom, is it your intention to raise a family of Saints? For this is the reality that brings us to the four last things death, judgment, heaven or hell.

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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