Archive for the ‘24th Sunday’ Category

Forgiven, Forgotten, Forever 9-17-2017

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

When I was doing research for this homily on forgiveness I came
across a very interesting story about Abraham Lincoln.
When Mr. Lincoln was campaigning for the presidency, one of his
arch-enemies was a man named Edwin Stanton. For some reason
Stanton hated Lincoln. He used every ounce of his energy to degrade
Lincoln in the eyes of the public. So deep-rooted was Stanton’s hate for
Lincoln that he uttered unkind words about his physical appearance, and
sought to embarrass him at every point. But in spite of this, Lincoln was
elected the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
Then came the period when Lincoln had to select his cabinet,
which would consist of the persons who would be his most intimate
associates in implementing his programs. He started choosing men here
and there for the various positions.
The day finally came for Lincoln to select the all-important post of
Secretary of War. Can you imagine whom Lincoln chose to fill this post?
None other than the man named Stanton. There was an immediate uproar
in the president’s inner circle when the news began to spread. Advisor
after advisor was heard saying, “Mr. President, you are making a
mistake. Do you know this man Stanton? Are you familiar with all the

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ugly things he said about you? He is your enemy. He will seek to
sabotage your programs. Have you thought this through, Mr. President??
Mr. Lincoln’s answer was terse and to the point: “Yes, I know Mr.
Stanton. I am aware of all the terrible things he has said about me. But
after looking over the nation, I find he is the best man for the job.” So
Stanton became Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War and rendered an
invaluable service to his nation and his president.
Not many years later Lincoln was assassinated. Many laudable
things were said about him. But of all the great statements made about
Abraham Lincoln, the words of Stanton remain among the greatest.
Standing near the dead body of the man he once hated, Stanton referred
to him as one of the greatest men who ever lived and said, “He now
belongs to the ages.”
If Lincoln had hated Stanton both men would have gone to their
graves as bitter enemies. But through the power of forgiveness Lincoln
transformed an enemy into a friend. One simple act of forgiveness can
change people’s lives. Are there any Stanton’s in your life right now?
Some years ago, a pastor in Boston was being harassed by a
woman in his congregation. She started false rumors about him. She
wrote vicious letters about him to his bishop and others. She initiated
petitions to have him removed. After several months of this, the woman

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moved to another city and not long afterward was converted to Christ.
Part of the process of her conversion was to realize the terrible wrong
she had done and all the pain and suffering she had inflicted on her
pastor in Boston. Consequently, she wrote him a long letter explaining
what had happened to her and how deeply she regretted what she had
done to him. The pastor immediately sent her a telegram with three
words on it: Forgiven, Forgotten, Forever.
Is there someone we/you/me need to say those words to and mean
them? Forgiven, Forgotten, Forever or do we want to live life like that
trapped rattlesnake filled with resentment and bitterness and bite
ourselves to death! I hope not.

Be A Stand In For God 9-11-2016

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

If an alien was to walk in to our church today and say, “Ok you Church people, describe God to me.”
I wonder what our answer would be. I believe one of the most powerful descriptions of God is contained in the 2 stories we just heard in Luke’s Gospel.
A. These images of God, too many people, don’t make any sense. When the sinner is found. Mercy, love and forgiveness are freely offered. No charge; no strings attached; no, “I told you so;” no finger pointing. Just, “Welcome Home.”
B. No matter how far we wander or stray from God, and we all do it at times, no matter how terrible our sins might be, God’s arms are always open to us. Jesus never approves of the sin, but he always embraces the sinner.
C. I could just hear a few of the people, when Jesus was telling his stories, making a few side comments like:
i. These stories are crazy!
ii. This God is ridiculous!
iii. Leave 99 good sheep to go after one stupid stray?
iv. That’s not very good business sense.
v. If I were the father I would stick it to that son.
vi. I would make him crawl back.
vii. This God doesn’t make any sense.
These people were right; our God doesn’t make any sense when it comes to loving us.
D. A final point, very important, comes from a quote by the director of Covenant House, a shelter for runaway kids in many large cities in the U.S. She says, “The kids we work with have a lot of questions…
‘Can I have something to eat? I haven’t had a good thing to eat in days,’ a 17-year-old boy asked me last night. ‘Can I sleep here? Where can I sleep?’ another kid asked an hour later. I think she may have been twelve. These questions come easy to them. They are the questions that a street kid asks every day, minute to minute. But what gets to me is the question they don’t ask. The one that hides deep in the eyes they turn away from you, the one that shows in nervous fingers. This is the question that comes from living a lifetime of days when you can’t seem to do anything right. It is, ‘Does God still love me? – Will God forgive me?’ The kids would never say that out loud. Very few of them ever talk about God. They don’t know enough yet, and their minds and mouths are too preoccupied with the other questions: ‘Is it safe here?’ ‘Can I have something to eat?’ ‘Where can I sleep?’ But their hearts have only one question: ‘Does God still love me? – Will God forgive me?’ And their hearts look to me and to other adults at Covenant House for the answer to that question. I don’t think the kids think much about the theological idea that God lives in every one of us. With them it’s more instinctive. All I know is that when they look at me and I see that question, I feel the incredible burden of standing in for our Lord. And I know our Lord is counting on me to say, ‘Yes! Heavens, yes! I love you!’ to those scraggly, hungry, angry children of the streets.”
I Close:
God is counting on all of us to be “Stand In’s” for the Lord, with each other. To make real Isaiah 55:7, “Turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.”