LIVE FOREVER - with thanks to Oasis and, of course, Jesus

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.  The readings for today's Mass can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/062914-day-mass.cfm.  As always thanks for reading, your comments and sharing this blog on all the social media sites.  I appreciate it! 

OH - and a quick plug... please take a moment to check out the BIG NEWS  from the NEWMAN CENTER here at Montclair State and how you can help - Thanks for your generosity and especially all your prayers and support!  - www.MSUNEWMAN.com

HOMILY:

Without college students around these summer months it seems safe to share a memory without the blank stares or the snickers they make reminding me that I’m older than them.

A couple of weeks ago, Amazon.com sent me a recommendation. Aren’t they thoughtful? They know my buying preferences (which is kind of creepy, but), they said "You might be interested in" and it was a "new" release from one of my favorite bands Oasis. Knowing that they had broken up as a band after the two brothers got into one of their legendary fights (again) a few years ago, I wondered if I missed the news they had gotten back together. Particularly since they’re a British band, they might not have gotten much attention this side of the Atlantic.

But alas, no... it wasn’t a new album. It was a special "re-master" celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of the album "Definitely Maybe." OUCH - College kids or not, that hurts! 1994! I was a Junior in college... It doesn’t seem that long ago – at all.

While that particular album isn’t my favorites of Oasis (that would be "What’s the story morning glory" - which I can listen from tracks 1-12 without skipping a single track) "Definitely Maybe" has one of my favorite songs from Oasis - "Live Forever".


Maybe I don't really wanna know

How your garden grows cos I just want to fly

Lately, did you ever feel the pain?

In the morning rain as it soaks you to the bone

Maybe I just want to fly

I want to live I don't want to die

Maybe I just want to breathe

maybe I just don't believe

Maybe you're the same as me

we see things they'll never see

you and I were gonna live forever

 

It’s a catchy song... The lyrics are somewhat vague on the surface. If you search online you’ll find different fans attempting to give an explanation or meaning to it. But you can also find the songwriter himself explaining his inspirations. Some of it’s about his mom, who loved to garden. There’s connections to their pop-heroes John Lennon and The Beattles...

But one of the main reasons for writing "Live Forever" was in reaction to what was the other top-hit of the time. Yes - those glorious ‘90's - when "Grunge music" was the rock genre we all listened to - with one of the most popular groups being "Nirvana". Oasis wrote "Live Forever" as a response to Nirvana’s "I hate myself and want to die". I can’t directly quote Noel Gallagher the songwriter since he uses the "f" word like the word "the" and "and." But basically he explained that while he was a fan of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain (the lead band member/song writer) he felt the last thing people needed to hear was such crap as "I hate myself and want to die." And Gallagher couldn’t help but notice at the time something that people didn’t acknowledge till after Cobain’s suicide "how could a guy who had everything be so miserable about it?"


I said maybe I don't really wanna know

How your garden grows cos I just want to fly

Lately, did you ever feel the pain?

In the morning rain as it soaks you to the bone



Maybe I will never be all the things that I want to be

But now is not the time to cry now's the time to find out why

I think you're the same as me we see things they'll never see you and I

We're gonna live forever
As a 21 year old entering into my senior year, preparing for seminary, I suppose that I still was drawn to rock music, but couldn’t find myself banging my head to songs moaning about the awfulness of life and wishing for death. However vague Oasis was, I could get on board with people who said "I think you’re the same as me - we see things they’ll never see - you and I we’re gonna live forever." Oasis never imagined at the time that they were taking on some of the "legends" of the day and age - especially since this was their debut album. Nor did they realize they were being so defiant to a somewhat angry meaninglessness philosophy that so many grungers of that day and age were embracing (as they got stoned to try to numb the pain of that nothingness). And Oasis certainly never expected that "Live Forever" would remain one of their most popular songs - even a decade after it’s release it was named as "Greatest song ever" several times on different charts in the UK.

Driving around listening to this remastered CD (thanks Amazon) I kept thinking about these two saints whose feast day we celebrate today. Saints Peter and Paul in the first and second readings we heard today, they too were surrounded by a world filled with "hate" and "death". King Herod we read in the Acts of the Apostles is getting kudos from the occupied Jews as he kills Christians which is why he imprisons Peter. Paul, in the second reading is writing to one of his young followers, a young bishop knows that his death by beheading is at hand. Both of them, two giants of the Catholic-Christian faith at a time where the young Church was ruthlessly being persecuted and it’s chances of surviving seemed bleak at best - are eventually martyred. But they were able to embrace that fate, were able to make this sacrifice knowing deep in their hearts and souls that because of Jesus Christ, they truly would "Live Forever."

That is why the Church pauses every June 29th to celebrate (even when that falls on a Sunday) these two men together. The Church wants us to remember our roots. That the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a universe-changing experience. That in following Jesus Christ, we see things they’ll never see - namely that the things of this world, of this life are meaningless if they’re not connected to Him... in fact life is meaningless if we’re not connected to Him. It’s only in being united to Jesus Christ that you and I are gonna live forever.

Peter and Paul believed that- and suffered and died as their testimony, their witness to this truth. How will we speak to a world that still beats its head along to the mind-numbing beat of "hating itself and wanting to die" - the glorious promise, the glorious future that because of Jesus Christ, we’re gonna live forever


Maybe I don't really wanna know

How your garden grows cos I just want to fly

Lately, did you ever feel the pain?

In the morning rain as it soaks you to the bone

Maybe I just want to fly I want to live I don't want to die

Maybe I just want to breathe maybe I just don't believe

Maybe you're the same as me we see things they'll never see you and I

You and I are gonna live forever

We're gonna live forever

Gonna live forever

Gonna live forever

Gonna live forever

Gonna live forever

Gonna live forever

CHALLENGES FOR THE PRIEST ANSWERED BY CORPUS CHRISTI

Hello everyone!  This is my homily for the SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (traditionally referred to by it's Latin titles Corpus Christi  or Corpus Domini)  The readings for today's Mass can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/062214.cfm.  I'm grateful for you taking time to read this - for your feedback - and for all of those who share this on twitter, facebook, redditt and whatever other social media things that keep popping up!  I'm always amazed seeing the statistics and where visitors are coming from - so Thank You - and God Bless You - today and always - In Christ - Fr. Jim

HOMILY:



The Last Supper - one of the many beautiful stained glass windows
from our Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark, NJ
Every so often, someone will ask the question: what’s the hardest part of being a priest? From their reactions they seem to have certain expectations of what they think the answer will be: Is it the promises made to remain chaste for life – forsaking having a wife and family of your own? Is it the promise of obedience to the Archbishop - recognizing that any day the Archbishop could call and say "I need you to go to a new assignment" - and there’s an expectation that you would put aside your wants, desires and say "Yes" - for the good of the Church.

There’s some truth to those examples - and other challenges come to mind. But over the last 15 years of priesthood - for me, the hardest part has always been the extremes that a priest can encounter just in the course of one day. Being a part of one family’s incredible joy and then another family’s incredible pain in the matter of a few hours.

One Saturday I will never forget comes to mind. Saturdays ordinarily in our parish were relatively manageable (compared to some other parishes) so when my pastor was away for the week, I wasn’t concerned about the fact that I had an 8:30 am Daily Mass for Saturday - a Nuptial Mass (a wedding) at 3:00 pm, confessions at 4:30 and the Vigil Mass for Sunday at 5:30 pm. Sure it was a bit loaded of a day, but as still a relatively young priest, I thought I could handle it. The Daily Mass and Vigil Mass were something that was familiar by that point (even with a group of Confirmation kids coming to the 5:30 mass for something they needed to do); I was excited to celebrate the wedding Mass with the couple I had been working with for over a year.

What I didn’t expect was a funeral coming in that Saturday Morning. The note was posted on the bulletin board on Wednesday evening that the funeral director had called to arrange a funeral Mass on Saturday at 10 am. At first I was thinking if it wasn’t someone I was very familiar with that perhaps I could get another priest to cover the funeral. As it turned out it was a 25 year old woman who’s name didn’t register right away - and then I realized it was the daughter of a couple who were regular, faithful parishioners. In the 3 years I had known them, I never met their daughter (or even knew they had a daughter for that matter) Only with this sad news did I learn that she had suffered from a drug addiction, had been in and out of rehabilitation facilities and programs - but tragically had not been able to ward off those demons as she died from an overdose. In talking and meeting with the family, it was obvious that they wanted me as their parish priest to celebrate the Mass.

Going into that day, I thought I was prepared. I had my homilies printed out in different colored folders, that I had triple checked (definitely wouldn’t want to mess those files up and bring the wrong one to the wrong Mass) I had altar servers assigned to help throughout the day and parishioners to assist whether it was just to help clean up from one celebration and set up for the next.

Emotionally I couldn’t have imagined the challenge the day proposed. Seeing a family devastated by a tragic loss and a few hours later family’s (with similar aged young people) gathering to celebrate the joy of uniting a husband and wife... confirmation kids coming to the 5:30 PM Mass for their project that was part of their formation process.

It was during that last 5:30 pm Mass that I had a spiritual revelation that has never left me. It was as we were preparing the altar for now the 4th time, and I saw parishioners gathering again to bring the bread and wine up the altar that it clicked that I had seen this happen 4 times in this very Church, to very different congregations. First to a group of mostly elderly parishioners who faithfully attend Mass every morning; then to a Church of people - some stunned, some numb in grief; then to family’s filled with joy as well as fear as they watch two young adults make one of the biggest steps in their lives - to now at the end of the day, 300-400 ordinary parishioners ranging from newborns to 80 somethings gathering together as they did week after week. In some ways, they couldn’t have been more different.

Yet they all came to the same altar. They all came, as they were, looking to be fed with the Body of Christ. Part of the sadness was my own expectations not being met. Because:

That Eucharist I wish I could say instantly removed all pain and grief for the one family.

That Eucharist I wish I could say guaranteed the newly married Mr and Mrs protection from all pain and suffering and only the richest of blessings for the rest of their lives

That Eucharist I wish I could say just as miraculously transformed everyone’s "ordinariness" into something "extraordinary" as bread and wine becoming Jesus body and blood did.

But sadly that wasn’t the case. People still sobbed. I’m unsure of what happened to that couple the days, weeks and years since they left after they got married and moved out of state... and taking a look around during that 5:30 - despite my best efforts, some people were yawning and didn’t appear to have changed much during that Mass.
Here I was incredibly blessed to Celebrate Mass at the
Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy at the altar
where relics from the Last Supper are contained

But I realized those were my own expectations that were messed up - and I walked away with a new appreciation. What everyone had in common; what everyone desired - and very personally what I knew to be true at the end of that long day – what had sustained me, and nourished me - was Jesus’ very presence in that Eucharist. That in all those moments throughout the day He himself fed us with his very flesh; He himself quenched our thirst with his very blood. It was Jesus’ presence, and His presence alone that every group of people desired on some unspoken level. It was Jesus Himself that would be with one family in their darkest, most painful moment - and that He would remain with them every day, as they tried to come face to face with this loss in their lives. It was Jesus Himself that was the guest at this Wedding Feast - who would remain with that couple in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health - all the days of their lives. It was Jesus Himself who made the ordinary extraordinary and that daily, weekly nourishment would impact and change the lives of every soul who welcomed Him, received Him - really consumed Him and allowed Him to change their very lives.

As Pope Francis said so beautifully last year in his Corpus Christi homily once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread that is his Body, he makes himself a gift; and we too experience "God’s solidarity" with man, a solidarity that is never depleted, a solidarity that never ceases to amaze us: God makes himself close to us, in the sacrifice of the Cross he humbles himself, entering the darkness of death to give us his life which overcomes evil, selfishness and death. Jesus, this evening too, gives himself to us in the Eucharist, shares in our journey, indeed he makes himself food, the true food that sustains our life also in moments when the road becomes hard-going and obstacles slow our steps. And in the Eucharist the Lord makes us walk on his road, that of service, of sharing, of giving; and if it is shared, that little we have, that little we are, becomes riches, for the power of God — which is the power of love — comes down into our poverty to transform it.

The Challenge for us on this celebration where we focus on this gift, on this mystery, is in the midst of our daily struggles, in the extremes of life that all of us inevitably encounter moving from joy to sorrow and sometimes monotony in the day to day is to look to Jesus presence in the Eucharist to transform us, to guide us – forcing us to do as he does for us: to lay down our lives, to give, to share... to in fact love Him as He loves us... to make that real presence real in the lives of others.

IS POPE FRANCIS BEING TOO TOUGH ON PRIESTS?

Back in February, I was honored to have the opportunity to give the "Rectors Conference" at the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception at St. Andrews Hall, Seton Hall University on Pope Francis and the Priesthood.  What follows is an edited version of that talk:

        How many people have ever heard of the word >Smarmy?=
 
While in the last decade or so people already had greater access to the Holy Father=s speeches, homilies and audiences than our brothers and sisters from just a decade earlier, Pope Francis, seemingly from the night of his election has had an even greater connection with people around the world.  Not simply by making his daily Masses semi-public and allowing Vatican Radio and L=Osservatore Romano to have staff present to give reports on what he said during his homilies, but in the way he speaks and the content of his talks. It=s become routine now, an hour or so after a daily Mass in the Domus (where the Holy Father has chosen to reside) has concluded, that anyone can click an app on their iPad, or a link from a tweet and read what the Holy Father said in their own language.  That must be a bit more challenging than one might assume when we think of how these journalists have to somehow translate this constantly surprising, spontaneous even somewhat unpredictable 77 year old pontiff.  Francis doesn=t mind speaking somewhat loosely, casually to the world - even making jokes. Back in October when he visited a cloistered convent in Assisi, he quipped, ''It makes me sad when I find sisters who aren't joyful. They might smile, but with just a smile they could be flight attendants__ That=s probably not an earth-shattering thought. Francis= predecessors might have thought or even privately said the same thing. What is novel is Francis says it so publically to a world-wide audience who can hear it and read it almost instantly.
 
That=s why Fr. Frederico Lombardi, spokesperson for the Vatican, not even two months into Francis papacy explained that they would not publish entire daily homilies from Francis since different celebrations, circumstances provide different contexts.  They wanted to honor people=s interest in the Pope=s homilies while respecting Francis= spontaneity. The compromise that was announced was that there would be reports from the Holy Father=s daily activities and that stories about his homilies would be Arich in quotes@ but not a literal, word-for-word translation of his homilies.
 
Which leads back to the ASmarmy@ question. A few months ago a headline that caught my attention read, APope Francis: the true priest and his relation to Christ.@ I was excited to have a spiritual reflection on the priesthood from the Pope who has captured the hearts of people - Catholics and non-Catholics alike - around the world in such a short period of time. As I did, there it was - the word ASmarmy.@ I confess my ignorance, I had never heard of the word before - but it sure didn=t sound good.   Reading the article, you realized quickly that it wasn=t like the reporter was using the word to describe what Francis said... The Holy Father said it himself. Three times to be exact:
 
We are anointed by the Spirit, and when a priest is far from Jesus Christ he can lose this unction...And instead of being anointed he ends up being smarmy. And how damaging to the Church are smarmy priests_ Those who put their strength in artificial things, in vanity, in an attitude... in a cutesy language... But how often do we hear it said with sorrow: >This is a butterfly-priest,= because they are always vain... [This kind of priest] does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ_ He has lost the unction: he is smarmy.@
 
By the third Smarmy I said AOK I need to look this up@ so I went to google - which as I=ve learned, you have to be careful when doing, because sometimes the results aren=t the bestY one of the first definitions I saw on the results page was: Smarmy:  A certain attitude often accompanied by a squinty look and a superior smile that makes you instantly hate a person. Similar to snobby.  I instantly thought - Yikes, Pope Francis_ Then I realized that citation came from AUrban Dictionary@ which isn=t completely wrong, but it=s not the best of sources and it=s a bit too extreme. Webster=s Online Dictionary had a nicer spin on it (but not much). They describe Smarmy as: behaving in a way that seems polite, kind, or pleasing but is not genuine or believable.
 
           A few weeks after the ASmarmy@ reference, in another daily Mass homily, while comparing modern day clerics to the priests in the Old Testament in the book of Samuel who were not the best examples of being AMen of God,@ Francis referenced priests and bishops when he asked, AHow many times, do God=s people feel themselves unloved by those who ought to give witness?@ Quotes like these, along with moves like severely limiting the number of priests eligible to receive the honorary title Monsignor has caused some to feel the Holy Father has been unfairly critical, making priests the focus of a lot of his concern.  In light of the numerous, publically enumerated lists of problems facing the Church that people talked about before his election, this seems surprising. What do parish priests know of the Vatican banking scandal?  The release of private, confidential and personal documents from Pope Benedict (aka AVati-leaks@ scandal) B didn=t the butler do it? (seriously). Hasn=t the vast majority of faithful men been unfairly maligned enough as a result of a small number of deviant priests who sexually abused young people?       

Of all the many issues facing the Church at this time in history, Francis= pointed, public critiques of priests on the surface feel like part of Aa piling on@ that many priests feel they were already experiencing: from their parishioners, from those who no longer go to Church, from their Bishops, from the media, and from themselves: AIf we are far from Jesus Christ, we necessarily compensate for this with other, worldly attitudes. And so [we see] all these figures... priest-wheeler dealers, priest-tycoons...@  One priest-friend remarked when I told him this topic I was writing on asked,  ASo are you planning on beating yourself up in the process?@
           
That reaction kind of surprised me. Don=t we believe that the Holy Spirit seems to raise up the right man in each day and age to address the problems, the failures, the obstacles to the saving message of Jesus Christ being lived and proclaimed by the Church?  When Karol Wojtyla=s name was first announced on the balcony of St. Peters Square in 1978 and thousands of Italian spectators in stunned silence wondered where in the world was this first non-Italian pope in 450 years coming from? - few could=ve anticipated the global implications John Paul II=s papacy would have not just on the Church but on the entire world. His contributions to the fall of Communism can be traced to his leading the Church in advocating freedom as one of God=s most precious gifts to humanity. To those deprived of that gift, he became a global champion fighting for those oppressed. To those born into freedom, he became a voice of conscience reminding us that freedom Aconsists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.@ With John Paul II=s death only being 9 years ago, just that short distance has given us a bit more appreciation for some of the reasons the Lord raised John Paul to lead the Church at that time.
 
When Pope Benedict XVI shared that after much prayer and discernment that he believed the Lord was leading him to resign the Papacy a year ago, the consensus was that the Church needed a new leader to guide us through those various embarrassing failures and scandals. When Jorge Cardinal Borgoglio emerged as the new pope, taking the name AFrancis@ after St. Francis of Assisi that sent a not so subtle message about what was first and foremost on the new Pope=s mind and heart. Yes, as has been widely reported that his choosing this name was meant to be a call to Aremember the poor.@  But for me, the first thought that came to mind hearing the name AFRANCISCUS@ announced in St. Peter=s Square was how St. Francis of Assisi heard the voice of Christ calling out to him to ARebuild my church which you see is falling into ruins.@
The Holy Spirit is leading Pope Francis - and all of us in the Church - to confront this great challenge; looking at the sinfulness and brokenness of the Church. For most people, to hear global, international stories about impropriety in the Church B like an allegation of money laundering in the Vatican B while that=s embarrassing, it almost seems unreal, like a variation of The Godfather III or something. For most people though, they are definitely affected by their local parish priests. When AFather@ is present to a family at the tragic loss of a loved one; leading a couple through marriage preparations to the celebration of their wedding; spending hours talking to college students who are trying to figure out Awhat to do with their lives@ - those relationships and memories create an intimate bond between the priest and the people of God.  When people are well served, well loved by their priests, they don=t deny the reality of sin in humanity, but find the truth of scripture; >love covers a multitude of sins=(1 Peter 4:8). 
 
The contrary, though, is very true as well. When a priest is disinterested in the lives of his people; when the preaching comes across as harsh, focusing more on people=s sinfulness rather than our universal need for God=s mercy; when they see their priests living more comfortably or even extravagantly then the people they=ve been sent to serve - those experiences have the potential to undermine people=s faith. That=s what was at the heart of Francis= Chrism Mass last year. Pope Francis in talking about how the priest=s preaching of the Gospel B both in word and more importantly in deed is more effective when itAtouches their daily lives...to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the Aoutskirts@ where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith.@  The result, Pope Francis notes, is that our APeople thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes.@
 
           Francis, being an Archbishop of a local diocese would=ve had experiences with priests falling from one extreme to the other.  He would have first-hand knowledge of the hurt that we priests can cause through our failures, through our sinfulness, through our forgetting our need for God=s love, His mercy, His forgiveness ourselves.  Which explains why as a loving shepherd he is calling his fellow brother priests to deeper conversion first so that we can regain the moral authority to lead our people to experience the peace that comes from being reconciled with God and one another. 


Because he knows as Pope Benedict XVI knew, as Pope John Paul II knew
B as the Church has proclaimed for close to 2000 years;  that Jesus is truly the answer to whatever issues that people B both individually and collectively B are facing.   To those called to the great gift of priesthood B Francis is telling us who are on those front lines that the more people can see our love for Him manifesting itself in our lives and service, the more attractive Jesus becomes to the world. The more likely people will want to hear, want to know what the Lord says to themCthe more they will try to follow him and need his mercy and forgiveness when it inevitably becomes too hard and there=s a slip up.  The more likely the Church will be renewed and continue to be a prophetic and transformative voice to the world again.  We priests need to take the first steps - avoiding being smarmy is as good a place to start as any.

SELFLESS LOVE IN A NYC TAXI CAB

Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the 7th SUNDAY OF EASTER - June 1, 2014. The readings for today can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/060114-sunday.cfm . Thanks as always for reading, for your comments and feedback - and for sharing this blog on Twitter, Facebook & Reddit. God Bless - Fr. Jim

HOMILY:
A few years back, a New York City Taxi Driver shared this story, I think it was in the New York Times, but it was a really powerful one that I’ve never forgotten. The cab driver arrived at the address he had been dispatched too and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes he honked again. It was the last ride of his shift, so he was growing impatient and thought about just driving away, but something made him put the car in park and walk up to the door and knocked.. A frail, elderly voice called out ‘Just a minute.’

After a long pause, the door opened and there was this small woman in her 90's there wearing a print dress, a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she asked, which the cab driver did and then took her other arm and assisted her slowly walking toward the curb. She kept thanking the guy for his kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, he said ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’ to which she responded ‘Oh, you’re such a good boy.’When they got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘That’s not the shortest way,’ he answered ... to which she shared ‘Oh, I don’t mind, I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’ As he looked in the rear-view mirror, her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ With that, the cab driver quietly reached over and shut off the meter. And simply said ‘What route would you like me to take?’

For hours, they drove through the city. She showed the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had him pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask him to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the night slowly turned into early morning she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. They drove in silence to the address she had given him. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as they pulled up. They were very attentive to her watching her every move.

The cabbie opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ he said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ he responded.

Almost without thinking, the cabbie shared that he bent and gave her a hug. She held onto him tightly and said ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy, Thank you.’ He squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light..

The cab driver wrote: "I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?"

In a beautiful way, this guy, is answering the prayers and hopes of Jesus in this Gospel passage. What we heard in the Gospel is a flashback to Holy Thursday at the Last Supper. Where Jesus is preparing for his Passion and Death - knowing what he is about to accomplish with the paschal mystery - knowing that for his own who will remain, it will be up to them to bring to life the Gospel for the world themselves– in real, everyday, authentic ways.

It will be up to the Church, those first apostles, for you and I sitting here in this sacred place today - and even a cab driver at the end of a shift - to look for opportunities, to expect those opportunities and to respond in a way  that testifies: that the point of this life of ours is to know God and the things of God – love, mercy, compassion, justice, peace... and that the work of God, the work of discipleship is to help one another know and embrace that life, through the simplest and most hidden acts of kindness and reconciliation.

The cab driver reflecting on the unexpected fare said "I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one."

May we consistently be people who respond lovingly to those the Lord has placed into our lives. Then we will truly be brothers and sisters of the Risen One, Jesus Christ, and share in the glory to come and even experience the glory, here and now, of the Father who sent Him.