Hi everyone, here's my homily for the SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER - MAY 13, 2018 the readings for today's Mass can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051318.cfm. Thanks as always for reading, your feedback and comments and for sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. God Bless you and have a great week - Fr Jim
A few years ago, a writer for the New York Post shared what she characterized as a difficult day. The prologue to this day started when her neighbor whom she had been able to get free internet access from using her unsecured WiFi for months, moved (the nerve of them), leaving her disconnected. So she decided it was time to order her own service. Which resulted in an incredible test of patience as Verizon ended up having to send her four "home installation kits." The first two kits were sent to the wrong address, the third kit had a box that was empty; so when the fourth finally arrived, you can imagine her frustration when she plugged it in and nothing happened. After all this a tech would have to come to her apartment for a visit.
So here it was, the writer’s difficult day: the Verizon tech arrives, tells her he needs to find the "Verizon box" for the apartment building: She doesn’t know where that box is for the building, so she has to call the superintendent. The super tells her it’s in the courtyard. "Well how do you get into the courtyard?" she asks; "well you have to go thru Bill’s apartment...” he responds, all of a sudden remembering “...you know what??" Bill is late in his rent!" he angrily remembers... as he hangs up the phone. Now the Verizon guy suggests to this writer that they just knock on Bills door and get into the courtyard themselves, which they do. As they knock on Bills door - a few times and no one answers... They start banging on the door again and – it just opens. Elizabeth says out loud "who leaves their door open in New York?" as she steps inside.
To her surprise, Bill was there - however he was dead. The Verizon tech told her to call the super as he proceeded to go and look for the Verizon box. When they found the door to the courtyard had been padlocked, the Verizon tech suggests that Elizabeth look around the apartment for the key, which she decided against thinking that might be a violation of privacy. "Suit yourself" the Verizon tech said as he left the apartment. At this point the super arrived and then said to Elizabeth, "well it will be easier next time for the technician [to hook your internet up] because you don’t need Bill’s permission [to get in here]." With that he said "How about you and me grab a drink?" She declined. With that, Elizabeth left, needing to clear her head, going to the library where she could email some friends.
She said as she walked, she was reflecting on the whole thing - wondering what happens that everyone seemed so callous. The phone guy has to come back - Her super is hitting on her, she needs to log onto the internet to take care of some work and personal stuff and - oh yeah, Bill is dead. She poured out all of this to a friend in an email. Her friend replied with all the love and concern you’d hope for as he asked "Do you know how much for the dead guy’s apartment?" Oh, yeah, she did - she had already decided to rent it. It was a bizarre read, to be sure. Even the headline to the story "Death of sentiment: an apartment, a body and what New York does to you" seems to go along with the unapologetic tone of the entire article.
Here a man has died, and yet life continued on without missing a beat and without much thought... other than how this affects their schedules, their lives. "Ah well," all of these characters seem to say, "that’s what being a New Yorker does to you...ya want yo internet or what???" I kind of hate the gross generalizations that all the citizens of New York are like this, but it was interesting that the paper chose to publish it and there wasn’t any massive outcry of letters to the editor challenging the portrayal that New Yorkers can be mean, uncaring or self absorbed. The hit television show Seinfeld’s entire premise was that the four main characters were completely self-absorbed, and most of the interactions and relationships between them and their fellow New Yorkers were the same.
There is something to that theory that the company we keep - who we surround ourselves with – it affects us. Mark Hart, a friend of mine said not too long ago "I am blessed to work each day with very holy people. Being around holy people makes you want to be more holy. The opposite holds true, too."
I think that’s what Jesus is praying about in this Gospel passage today. Here we are on the last Sunday of Easter... (Next Sunday the season of Easter will conclude with the Feast of Pentecost) And the Gospel passage comes from Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper before his Passion begins. And what is it on his heart and mind? It’s a theme we’ve been hearing for the last few weeks - this desire for unity, this hope for "remaining in Him and He remaining in us."
In today’s Jesus takes that a step further and reveals some of his concerns. He’s praying that his followers will not be corrupted by the world. He’s praying that they will not be pulled apart from one another as a group and even more that they won’t be lured away from the Father to become something he knows they’re not.
He knows the great capacity of each of His followers to bring the very Life and Love of the Lord to the ends of the earth. And at the same time, that’s a choice every follower has to make (and renew almost daily) for the possibility is right there to be the one who will betray, deny or abandon Him. To forget all that He has said.; forget all that he has done.
Jesus’ prayer isn’t simply out of loving concern for us individually, but also because of the effect we have on one another. If it’s understood or accepted that being a citizen of an earthly city can make people so unsensitive and so uncaring that a death of a neighbor isn’t mourned but seen as an opportunity to get a better apartment (at a cheaper rent) - then perhaps Jesus’ prayer is that our belonging to an eternal city will "do something"positive to you and I and the world around us.