Listening for the Lost Child 4-21-2024

April 20th, 2024

For any parent, there is nothing more terrifying than to suddenly
discover that your child is missing. You are at the mall or the beach or
the park—one moment the child is grasping at your pant leg; a second
later the child is nowhere to be found.
In your fear and panic, you shut out every noise, every distraction
demanding your attention – you focus totally and exclusively on finding
your child. You begin frantically looking, running down aisles and
alleys, questioning everyone, checking every possible hiding place.
Nobody gets in your way; nothing slows you down. You become so
caught up in your search for your child that you manage to shut out
everything else in sight for that glimpse of his baseball cap or her yellow
sweater; you are so focused in your search that you tune out every sound
and noise so as to hear the words your heart aches for: “Mommy!
Daddy! I got lost.”
In today’s Gospel, Christ assures us that his voice can be heard
above the noise and din of our lives, offering us peace, wisdom and
guidance if we listen purposefully and attentively. When our spirits
ache over love that has been lost, when we lose our moral and ethical
way, when we feel our footing slip beneath us as we try to navigate life’s
twists and turns, Christ’s voice can always be heard if we listen with
hope, with conviction, with faith. Like a lost child’s voice to frantic
parents, the voice of Christ calls out to us above our desperation and
fear, to guide us, to support us, to prod us on our journey to the dwelling
place of his Father.

God is Waiting to be Found. 4-14-2024

April 10th, 2024

The disciples ran to Jerusalem with exciting news.
“We just saw Jesus,” they exclaimed.
The others crowded around to get the details. They all wanted to
know how he looked. And you would have thought that these two
people who had just seen Jesus would have remembered how he looked,
but they could not do it. What was wrong with them?
All they could say were things like:
“He looked like a father stretching out his hands to his prodigal son
and his older brother.”
“He looked like he did when he laid his hands on all the sick,
restoring them all to health.”
“He looked like he did when he took Jairus’s daughter by the hand
and brought her back to life.”
“He looked like the apostles when they distributed those five
loaves and two fishes to those five thousand hungry people.”
“He looked like the hemorrhaging woman who reached out her
hand and touched his cloak and was healed.”
“He looked like the woman who washed his feet with her perfume
and was blessed with his forgiveness and peace.”
“He looked like the widow with hands folded in prayer, seeking
justice from that corrupt judge.”
“He looked like he did on the night before he died when he took
bread and broke it saying, ‘This is my body to be given up for you. Do
this as a remembrance of me.’”
So this is how they described Jesus’ appearance. And every time
after that, whenever they saw hands reaching out to touch the lives of
others, they saw Jesus alive.
I close with this story: A little boy was playing hide-and-seek with
his friends. For some unknown reason they stopped playing while he
was hiding. He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house
to see what was troubling him and to comfort him. After learning what
had happened, the grandfather said, “Do not weep, my child, because the
boys did not come to find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment. All of life is like a game between God and us. Only it
is God who is weeping, for we are not playing the game fairly. God is
waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things.”
In so many ways, the risen Christ is in our midst, present in the
love, charity and goodness of others, in the Sacrament of Eucharist, in
God’s Word – Broken and Shared, in the Community of Faith Filled
People and in moments of Grace and Prayer. Unfortunately, we often do
not realize it.
May our celebration open our hearts and spirits to recognize Christ
among us in every season of our life. “Lord, help us not to miss you.

The Second Half of Life 4-7-2024

April 5th, 2024

When you were a child, you probably took part in your parish’s
religious education program. For eight years, you learned the prayers
and rituals of our Church. In high school, you were confirmed. Soon,
you were off to college – and “church” may have been put aside as you
earned your degree and, after graduation, establishing your career. Then
you married and began a family. And your faith took on a renewed
importance as you wanted your children to have the same connection to
God you had.
That’s the “first half” of a typical spiritual life when you learn the
choreography of a religious institution. You developed a language for
articulating your faith; you established a spiritual identity in belonging
to a church. The choreography and language of faith you learned then
became a bridge to instill those same values in your children.
But then came a crisis in your life – and unexpected illness or
death throws you, you get divorced, you get fired.
After that crisis, you entered the “second half” of the spiritual life,
one in which you hear a “deeper voice” of God. It is a voice calling you
to compassion, forgiveness, risk, surrender.
You now hear God not just in the rituals and creeds of your
church; you hear God in the deepest part of your heart. Your faith is
now fully yours.
The apostle Thomas might be considered the patron saint of this
“second half” of our spiritual lives – when we struggle to make sense of
our lives that have been turned upside down by crisis or catastrophe. In
today’s Gospel, Thomas feels that the faith he learned from and
embraced in Jesus has been betrayed in Jesus’ crucifixion. But, in his
resurrection, Jesus offers Thomas a reason to hope, a baseline for belief,
a prism for looking at the world with gratitude for what has been and
what will be. Faith, in the “second half” of our lives, is the ability to
hope that we can transform and remake, recreate and re-focus our lives
in the love of God and life of the Risen Christ.