MOUNTING A “COMEBACK”
Last week I preached the first of a three homily message series called “THE COMEBACK”. I shared what a message series was and how we are overwhelmed by many serious storms in our lives, world and Church. These real and seemingly insurmountable challenges may make us feel completely helpless. They may just be too big for us to bounce back from—at least on our own— but with God and each other, I truly believe that we can mount a comeback to change the world.
LAST & SERVANT OF ALL
In last Sunday’s gospel, Jesus told the disciples that to be the greatest, we must be last of all and servant of all. We need to be humble, trusting, loving and always looking beyond our own needs for the sake of those around us. In this way we are truly being Christ today.
Our world doesn’t really acknowledge or celebrate being last and all of us so often look to be served rather than to serve. This is because we are so often wrapped up in what we need and want never looking beyond that and never seeing the bigger picture of life.
Jesus offers us a different path for true “success” in our lives. It isn’t all about what we can take in this life—but about what we give and how we care for one another. This is the key to mounting our “comeback” from the storms, challenges and struggles today. This is how we offer light in darkness, joy in sorrow, hope in despair and life in the face of death. In order for us to get back on course, to follow the right path and calm the storms in the world, we need to adapt, modify and change working together bringing Christ’s loving presence through who we are and what we have.
A NEED FOR DISCIPLINE & THE BIGGER PICTURE
In the first homily of the series I offered many different examples of “comebacks”. In all these circumstances the comebacks needed a response that saw the bigger picture. They didn’t simply react to the storms but wanted to forever silence them for the sake of moving forward. Rocky Balboa eliminated distractions to train harder, the Boston Bruins did not play out of desperation but adapted their strategy to create scoring chances against the Leafs, Terry Fox refused to be pushed to the sidelines because of cancer, Nelson Mandela offered reconciliation after 27 years of imprisonment and St. John Paul II offered mercy and hope to his would-be assassin.
In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus tells us that if there are things that cause us to sin, take us off track, distract us from what is most important or blind us to the needs of others we need to change. To truly mount a “comeback” in the midst of the many storms, we can’t react but we need to respond like Jesus—filled with mercy, peace and grace.
For us to do this we need the discipline of an athlete eliminating bad habits and distractions so that we can harness the strength to overcome the challenges and darkness in our world. How can we do this?
(1) PERSONAL PRAYER
In order to be like Jesus today, we need to know Him. A regular daily personal prayer life allows us to open our hearts to Christ. Prayer is much more about listening than speaking. Through our prayer the Lord can give us strength, advice and guidance to be a shining light of hope constantly encouraging us to be last and servant of all.
(2) THE EUCHARIST
Just like any athlete who needs to eat healthy food to have energy and be strong, we need the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, as food for the journey so we become what we eat.
If we are going to respond with mercy, grace and hope and not simply react—we need to experience mercy and love in our own lives. The Sacrament of Reconciliation offers us true change helping us “comeback” from the darkness of sin into the light of grace.
(4) FAITH IN ACTION (SERVICE)
If we are going to respond with God’s grace seeing the bigger picture in our “comebacks” we need to go beyond ourselves and help be change for those who are in need. Being hope and love for others helps us be transformed too. There are many opportunities in our faith community and beyond to meet Christ in those who are suffering. Will we make the time?
(5) EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE
It is very important for all of us to search our hearts taking stock of what we spend our time doing and where we spend our money. Do we need to change our priorities? Do we spend enough time with our family and friends? Are we preoccupied with our own wants and needs? What is missing in our lives? What do we value most? Regular examinations of conscience help us prune those things that take us away from God and one another. It helps us grow into the disciples we are all called to be.
We need each other—we cannot mount a comeback alone. Our faith community is not only a place for us to receive the sacraments but the source of strength, united together through Christ. It is the place where we support, care and encourage one another (especially in the midst of the pandemic). We respond with mercy, love, peace and hope together as a safe harbour in the storms.