March 30, 2008
First Reading: Acts
Theme: SHALOM! SHALOM!! SHALOM!!!
Singing with exuberance: SHALOM, MY FRIEND! SHALOM, MY FRIEND! SHA LOM, SHA LOM.
THE PEACE OF CHRIST, I BRING YOU TO DAY. SHA LOM, SHA L OM!
PEACE is all we seek, because peace is the end result we anticipate in our relationship with others. In the absence of peace, loving concern and care for the other diminishes sometimes completely. In the absence of peace, we miss the spirit of faith and trust; we doubt; we become less understanding and judgemental of others. In fact, we resist them, and sometimes through that resistance, we cause them all kinds of WOUNDS by putting others to death literally! In the resurrection message therefore, SHALOM PAX LA PAIX PEACE stands in tandem with wounds, doubt, resentment and disbelief. However, when we DO understand PEACE as a call to forgiveness, fulfillment and a total revelation of Godself to us, we are able to overcome dysfunctional behaviours. Moreover, we no longer consent to human stupidity that urges us to put each other to death again and again in relationships with spouse, parents, children, siblings, parishioners, co-workers, neighbours, boy-friends and girl-friends. When peace conveys that juxtaposition of sin and grace, we just cannot help, but check in on each other ensuring a constant and intimate relationship with God and with each other. So now, allow me to be your driver, and let this short story JUST CHECKING IN enthuse us to identify ourselves with God through encounter with Jesus. The story goes that:
A minister passing through his church in the middle of the day, decided to pause by the altar and see who had come to pray. Just then, the back door opened. A man came down the aisle. The minister frowned as he saw the man hadn't shaved in a while. His shirt was kind a shabby and his coat was worn and frayed. Then the man knelt down and bowed his head. Then rose and walked away. In the days that followed, each noontime came this chap. Each time he knelt just for a moment; a lunch pail in his lap. Well, the minister's suspicions grew, with robbery a main fear. He decided to stop the man and so he ask him, What are you doing here? The old man said he worked down the road. Lunch was half an hour and the lunchtime was his prayer time for finding strength and power. I stay only moments. See, as I kneel here talking to the Lord, this is kind a what I say:
I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU LORD, HOW HAPPY I'VE BEEN SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHERS FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN. I DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERYDAY. SO JESUS, THIS IS JIM CHECKING IN TODAY!
The minister feeling foolish, told Jim that was fine and that he was welcome to come and pray just anytime. Time to go, Jim smiled; said Thanks and hurried to the door. The minister knelt at the altar. He had never done it before. His cold heart melted, warmed with love and met with Jesus there. As tears flowed in his heart, he repeated old Jim's prayer:
I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU LORD, HOW HAPPY I'VE BEEN SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHERS FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOO K AWAY MY SIN. I DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERYDAY. SO JESUS, THIS IS ME CHECKING IN TODAY!
Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Jim hadn't come. As more days passed without Jim, he began to worry. At the factory, he asked about him, learning he was ill. The hospital staff was worried, but he had given them a thrill. The week that Jim was with them brought changes in the ward. His smiles, a joy so contagious! Changed people, were his reward. The head nurse couldn't understand why Jim was so glad when no flowers, calls or cards came. Not a visitor he had. The minister stayed by his bed. He voiced the nurse's concern: No friends came to show they cared. He had nowhere to turn. Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up and with a winsome smile said, The nurse is wrong. She couldn't know that He's in here all the while. Everyday at noon He's here, a dear friend of mine. You see, He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me:
I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU JIM, HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN SINCE WE FOUND THIS FRIENDSHIP, AND I TOOK AWAY YOUR SIN. ALWAYS LOVE TO HEAR YOU PRAY. I THINK ABOUT YOU EACH DAY, AND SO JIM, THIS IS JESUS CHECKING IN TODAY!
Thus far, the resurrection narrative and the encounter between Jesus and JIM in this story have left impressions on our minds that many people will walk in and out of our life, but only true friends will leave lasting and memorable footprints that stay with us in your heart, on our mind and in our life. My dear friends, let us recall that one of the most essential characteristics of the Easter message is being commissioned and sent on mission to proclaim shalom pax la paix peace and forgiveness to all humanity and to the whole world. As I said sometime ago, it is never enough just to contemplate the face of Jesus. It is never enough that I am a priest. It is never enough to claim being Christian or Catholic or parishioner. There is more to the claim as priest, Christian, Catholic or parishioner. So, my dearest parishioners, as we participate in this Eucharist, I call upon each one of us to be the splendour about Jesus before all; that we become Jesus new conduits of peace, love, forgiveness and non-judgmental faces, which may result in bringing harmony to a broken world and its inhabitants.
Sing with exuberance: SHALOM, MY FRIEND! SHALOM, MY FRIEND! SHA LOM, SHA LOM.
THE PEACE OF CHRIST, I BRING YOU TO DAY. SHA LOM, SHA LOM!