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03/11/18 Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Fourth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 32

  • From our first reading – (2nd Chronicles 36:15-16) “Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send His messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place.  But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His warnings, and scoffed at His prophets…”
  • God continues to send us prophets and messengers, and just like our ancestors… We often continue to mock them and sometimes even kill them…
  • Those with the courage to question the world’s ways are often seen as a threat… and are dealt with accordingly… Jesus’ passion was a clear case in point
  • I have a card in my office at home that says: “The challenge is to be yourself in a world that's trying to make you like everyone else.”
  • Lent is a good time to contemplate that phrase…
  • How willing are we to dare to be ourselves?
  • How willing are we to remove some of the masks that the world has handed us?
  • How willing are we to be different?
  • How willing are we to stand up for what we believe?
  • Do we even fully know what we believe, or are we too busy trying to fit in and just go with the flow…
  • Jesus didn’t desire to suffer… Jesus chose suffering rather than deny Who He was and what He believed
  • As Christians, we hold Jesus up as our example…
  • As an example of how we’re each called to live in this world…
  • But have we ever looked deeply at Jesus’ life, and pondered how He might live in today’s world?
  • Can we see Jesus for the societal rebel that He was?
  • Can we see Jesus crusading for an end to violence in all of its forms?
  • Can we see Jesus working to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and welcome the immigrant?
  • Can we see Jesus working for healthcare for the uninsured?
  • Can we see Jesus trying to protect the environment that Pope Francis wrote about in his encyclical Laudato Si?
  • Can we see Jesus speaking truth to power?
  • Jesus proclaimed a message that wasn’t welcomed by the world… and is still not welcomed by the world…
  • He proclaimed peace, and mercy and inclusiveness
  • He proclaimed the dignity of all human beings, not just those who fit into the norms of society…
  • Jesus would be no more accepted today than He was over two thousand years ago
  • Lent is a time to contemplate what really matters to us
  • Lent is a time to determine what we’re willing to go to the “wall” for in life?
  • What is it that we hold dear?
  • What are we willing to sacrifice for?
  • What crosses are we willing to accept in the name of doing what’s right, and just, and honorable?
  • We each need to ask ourselves from time to time – What are the “non-negotiables” of our lives?
  • These aren’t topics that we often think about… But if we really want to know who we truly are, and what we believe – They’re topics worth contemplating
  • Jesus was a man of deep courage – But deep courage only comes from a depth of character based upon unshakeable beliefs, which emanate from a deep faith life
  • Until we believe and know deep in our hearts that there is Someone greater than us… that we’re not our own… that this universe wasn’t an accident, and that our Creator has a plan for our lives… We’ll continue to be tossed “to and fro” by this world, desperately trying to make sense of it all…
  • Loving as Jesus taught us to love doesn’t mean liking everyone or agreeing with everyone
  • It means respecting the dignity of every human being and treating them as we would like to be treated… Regardless of whether we may agree with them or even like them…
  • It means that we know who we are and that we hold certain beliefs to be inviolable and worth sacrificing for… and perhaps even dying for
  • None of this means that we’re called to become overnight social radicals or martyrs…
  • It simply means that we need to be prepared to live our faith and our beliefs in all aspects of our lives24/7
  • It means that we must be willing to become unpopular
  • It means that when standing up for our beliefs – We always act out of love for others, respecting their dignity as fellow creations of God, and resisting the temptation to become self-righteous
  • Jesus died for love
  • Only love can impel us to move through this world with the courage necessary to follow Jesus more closely…
  • We can do nothing greater in this life, than to imitate Jesus Christ in all things
  • Father Ronald Rolheiser wrote the following of Jesus in his book The Holy Longing: “Only someone Who has sweated real blood to remain true to what is highest and best will be able to look at his or her own murderers and say: ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.’  This is what constitutes true nobility of soul.” (Pg 224). 
  • This Lent, and every waking day of our lives we’re each called by Jesus to exhibit true nobility of soul
  • This is what it means to be a practicing Christian… Nothing less will ever suffice

 

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