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Mass of the Holy Spirit: All I am saying . . . Just give Jesus a chance
When the Powerball or Mega Millions has a very high jackpot, people all over the United States are eager to buy tickets (sometimes a lot of them) in the hopes that they will win an awful lot of money. It is absolutely amazing what we will take a chance on, even if the odds are stacked against success. But when it comes to faith, it can be very difficult for some to do the same. We have all kinds of excuses for not taking a chance on Jesus, but what have we got to lose?
Transcription – Mass of the Holy Spirit
It’s very rare that it’s the case that I change a little bit about what I’m going to say the morning of a homily. Usually I’m prepared and I know what I want to say, and that’s a good thing. But this morning, when I glanced through the headlines in the newspaper, I saw that three high school students from Ladue High School died yesterday in a car accident.
And I thought to myself, wow, how many lives have been changed by something that occurred in a matter of a few moments? I always think first of their parents, the parents of these kids who died. Because I think to myself, that’s just something I– not for example, I don’t have children of my own, but even if I did, or maybe especially if I did, that’s every parent’s worst nightmare. And I don’t care how old your children are.
And then I thought of their friends. And I thought to myself how their lives have changed. People that they were probably just joking around with, now not here on this earth. And I thought to myself, precisely because of moments like this, when everything changes and not for the best, “Do we need to have something that we can depend on?”
Certainly the people who grieve and mourn the loss of these kids will have friends and relatives and so forth to depend on. Despite the support and despite the fact that life will go on, the parents, quite frankly, will probably never be the same because their children are no longer alive. And I say all this not to start us on a downer in terms of the Mass of the Holy Spirit, but it seemed quite appropriate for what I was intending to say today.
You know, a few weeks ago, the — I don’t remember if it was Mega Millions or the Powerball, but one of them was well over a billion dollars in terms of its prize. And I suspect that there were people who thought, you know, maybe I’ll buy a ticket. What harm could there be? There were probably people who said, “Well, if I really want a good chance to win, I’ll buy 10 tickets.” Or maybe 100. Even though, I think Ms. Schupe could tell you, your chances of winning if you buy a Power Bowl ticket when it’s over a billion dollars, given the number of people that buy tickets, you could buy probably a million tickets and not really increase your odds all that much.
My quest today is to ask you to think about something. The interesting thing is when it comes to buying a Powerball ticket and winning, winning the big prize, for many individuals, their lives get worse, not better. And surprisingly, for many, when they win a big lottery prize, their lives get worse financially than they did before they won, which seems so odd. But they’re not used to money. They don’t know what to do with it. They think that it’s going to be infinite, and they’ll always have it.
And so I’d invite you today to think about what is it and who is it that you depend upon. Who is it that you depend upon? If you’re like me, it can’t just be myself, even though that seems to be the easiest way to go about things. I only have to rely on myself and that seems like a good thing. I screw up all the time. Depending just on myself, that would mean that quite frankly I’d be doing all kinds of things that are wrong.
I’m shaped and formed by the brothers that I live with. Because I’m a Dominican, I live in a house of about 35 people. And let me tell you, when you live with that many other people, they let you know when you do something you shouldn’t, they challenge you to be better, and when things are not going so well for you or for someone else, there’s a tremendous bit of support.
People have pledged their lives to be together. People get married because they know that in that relationship, things get better. They have someone upon whom to depend.
We tell you that you are brothers, brothers for life. And we have all kinds of evidence among our alums, both recent and long ago alums, that there’s a lot of truth to that statement. But then there are events that happened like yesterday, where people’s lives are dramatically changed.
I’m asking you today to take a chance on a relationship with Jesus. For some of you, it’s not a chance at all because you have a relationship with Jesus. I see many of you going in and out of the chapel to pray at various moments during the day for just a little bit of time, which is great. You’re holier than I was when I was in high school.
But there are probably those of you who don’t think much about Jesus, maybe never. And largely that’s because no one has ever helped you to see why it matters. And other people will toss in all kinds of reasons why you shouldn’t think about it. Some people may say, for example, if you look at the church, my gosh, look at all the mistakes the church has made. And I say that’s true. The church is made up of human beings and the church fails, sometimes egregiously, horribly, terribly.
But if in fact we were to say that failure, tremendous failure, were the reason that something would not be valuable to look at, we wouldn’t be Americans. We wouldn’t be members of any group. We wouldn’t come to CBC, because sometimes things don’t go so well and it’s our fault. We have to look at what is important.
Now, perhaps Jesus doesn’t matter to you as much because nobody has helped you to see why it matters or how it could matter. You’ve not had anybody in your life who’s lived life in a way that’s different because of their relationship with Jesus. But this is a period of time where you’re beginning to enter the process of making decisions for yourself, and not just small decisions, sometimes big decisions.
This is the time to think about who you want to be and who you want to become. And hopefully in our lives, this place where we remember constantly that we are in the holy presence of God, CBC becomes a place where you can figure out what it is you want to do.
Sometimes we don’t take a chance on a relationship with Jesus because something horrible has happened in our lives. It may be the case that none of those parents were terribly active in their faith. I suspect there are a lot of Ladue high school students that are not terribly active in their faith. But then again we have to think, if I don’t take a chance on something that’s dependable, how is that any better? When I go through something that’s difficult or terrible or hard, and I don’t think about the ultimate support I could receive, how am I better off?
And then again, maybe we don’t think about Jesus because we have a lot of other very good things in our lives. Life is going to be a series of choosing between good things. It’s not usually the case that when we think about what we have to choose, we think, “Well, this isn’t a very good thing, so I’m going to choose that. It’s going to make my life miserable. I’m going to choose that.” Usually we have to prioritize between multiple things that are good. If you say, for example, you want to play football, a good thing, but you never go, you never practice, because you really want to play esports, well then, you’ve made a choice that isn’t going to make you a very good football player.
If you say you want to be friends with someone, but you never make the time to be with them in real life, You probably aren’t going to develop much of a friendship. And so I challenge you today, if Jesus is really important to you, if that relationship really makes all the difference for you, then ask God to strengthen it. If you have a relationship with Jesus, but it’s not always very strong, ask God to help you.
And if you don’t really think of Jesus much at all, maybe never, maybe this is a good time to ask Jesus to help you to see why a relationship with Him matters. Now I know I’ve spoken a lot about Jesus on what is supposed to be the Mass of the Holy Spirit.
Why did Jesus need to leave? He tells us in the Gospel so that the Advocate can come. Why does that matter? Because we experience the fullness of who God is when Jesus leaves. The Advocate comes. We understand the whole of the Trinity because it gets revealed to us. But most important, it is because of the Holy Spirit that any of us can say “yes” to a relationship with Jesus.
And so today, maybe take just a moment, some time today, to be grateful for those things that are wonderful in your life. Maybe take a chance to thank God for your parents, for your mother, for your father, for whoever it is that cares for you and loves you. Maybe take a chance to thank God for your friends, those who bring out the best in you. And most especially, take a moment to ask Jesus to come into your life, because in so doing, a difference can be made that is eternal.