April 20th 2014 Bulletin Message

Peter addressed the people in these words: “I take it you know what has been reported all over Judea about Jesus of Nazareth.” Acts 10:34

Pray to see! Jesus is risen from the dead and we want to see him. Death no longer has hold of us; Jesus does. Forgiveness and eternal life resounds through all the earth. In our joyful shout of triumph, we declare with St. Augustine, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.” Alleluia means “Praise the Lord” and so we praise the Lord all the way to the praise of heaven. And we know that there is only one way to spell, have, see and know JOY. Our JOY as an Easter people is Jesus Over You. Jesus rules over our sin and death and it is making him our Lord, Master, Savior, Ruler, King Redeemer, our Everything, etc. that we can see, have and know his risen and everlasting life. As we dedicate our lives to JOY, that is Jesus Over You, we look to see him bring in the joy of his risen life into all we think, say and do. We put Jesus first over ourselves and all things and he brings us the JOY of everlasting.

Pray to see! We want to see the risen Jesus and he wants to be seen. I love the words from one of my favorite songs, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you.” Yes, through faith we want to see the Risen Jesus offering the JOY of salvation to all the world, all the time. But we have got to pray to see. The praying unlocks the seeing. The praying opens the eyes of our hearts so that we can see Jesus by faith everywhere we go. Some words from another favorite song of mine are, “Everywhere I go I see you.” What would it be like if our goal was to see Jesus with every look?

Pray to see! If you truly find Jesus and come to know his love, you want more and more and more. The world, your own flesh and the devil will try to stifle and extinguish that desire for more of Jesus but you can have more and more if you decide for it. That is the point where I was at as a collegian. I had come to know his awesome and life changing love and I wanted more. I was in the Word each day, going to mass and living for him. I went to a weekly prayer meeting whee we were seeking more. One night the leader of the prayer group challenged us to pray with people as they presented needs to us. He said we would get ample opportunities to pray with people in just one week and that we could come back to the prayer meeting the next week with our stories. Is it good enough to say “I am sorry” when someone shares a need with us? Is it good enough to say “Keep warm and well fed” when someone needs clothing, food or anything else? Are we fully responding to God’s call when someone shares some problem/suffering with us and we say, “I will pray for you”? What about acting like God is all powerful and ever present and asking the person who presents you with a need to pray on the spot? What if we prayed with people on the spot and treated Jesus as a first resort instead of a last resort? JOY would fill and flood our broken and desperate world.

So, I semi took the prayer group leader’s challenge to heart. I was sure there were going to be opportunities to pray with others but I just wanted to see how it was all going to play out. It was summer and I was doing what I did for about a decade of summers as I worked my way through high school, college and graduate schools. I had a house painting company and I was working a job alone on the day following the prayer meeting. My customers (the house owners) were going to be gone so I was wondering how I would get an opportunity to pray with others. Well, all I have to say is that God provides!

As I was spraying some trim with my airless prayer and using a shield, an elderly man pulled his car up to the house. He got out of his car and began to talk to me as I was up about fifteen feet on my ladder. He asked me what I was doing and I told him about spraying the trim using my shield. But, from the get go, the Holy Spirit was telling me to climb on down the ladder and to talk to this man. And I kept saying to the Holy Spirit, “No, no, no.” Finally, after a few minutes, I surrendered to the Holy Spirit. And oh how much joy and life and love you get when you surrender to the Holy Spirit’s leading. You know what I am talking about! I came down off the ladder and began to have a face to face and eye to eye conversation with this man. He shared with me how his wife had Alzheimer’s and that she was living in the nursing home next door. It was really tough on him. She did not know his name any longer and the bills of keeping he there were more than he could pay. As he shared his suffering with me, the Holy Spirit kept saying, “Here is your opportunity. Pray with him. Ask him if you can.” And I, who sometimes chooses to be surrendered and sometimes chooses not to surrender, said, “No, no, no.” But finally I surrendered. I said to this man, “You know, I believe that God cares for you and your wife so dearly. And God wants us to turn to him in prayer. Knowing that God cares for us so much, may I just say a prayer with you right now?” He said, “Yes.” So, I said a prayer with him for him and his wife. And Jesus showed up. Yes, Jesus showed up and he brought the whole Kingdom of God with him. Talk about everlasting, almighty and ever present power! The man’s eyes moistened in the presence of the power we had called upon. When I finished the prayer, he said to me, “Thank you for praying with me. Son, with that attitude, you will go a long way in life.” He turned and walked away never to be seen by me again in this life.

Pray to see Jesus. Treat Jesus as a first resort and not a last resort and pray to see him. Have that attitude in life and just see how far you will go. I prayed with that man and I saw Jesus. Pray by yourself and pray with others to see Jesus.

Do you want to see the Risen Jesus? Do you want the JOY of the everlasting? Make Jesus your first resort and pray for it. We want to see the Risen Jesus offering the JOY of salvation to all the world, all the time. But we have got to pray to see. The praying unlocks the seeing. The praying opens the eyes of our hearts so that we can see Jesus by faith everywhere we go.

It has been twenty-five years since I prayed with that man whose wife was living in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s. My daddy ended up in that very same nursing home with Alzheimer’s. Over 2 years ago the Father called my daddy to the JOY of heaven. As I held daddy’s head and hand when his soul left his earthly body, I was able to see him sprint to JOY because we had prayed together so much in this life. Choose JOY and Pray 2 C! Jesus becomes more and more visible as we pray and through the praying we come into the seeing. As we see him more clearly, we are raised up into his Risenness. We know the JOY of the everlasting all the way to the JOY of everlasting!

Yes, I know will go a long way I see the JOY that is forever. May we all choose JOY and pray 2 C!

+Fr. John

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