Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Isaiah 66:10-14
Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20
Reading II St. Paul to the Galatians 6:14-18
Gospel Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
We have a phrase we use quite often and that is that “we are creatures of comfort.” I ask you this morning, “What is it that gives you comfort?” All I would have to do is follow you for 24 hours and I would quickly discover the things that you enjoy, the things that upset you — and that is who you are. We are not ready to give up those “creatures of comfort.”
It is like when you go to the hospital, “I just want to go home.” You go on vacation, you can have the time of your life, you get back home and it is nice to crawl into your own bed. Jesus says, “I am not really concerned about your creature comforts, I really want to know if you are at peace with yourself. That is the greatest comfort in the world.”
What does it mean to be at peace with each other? In a few minutes we are going to turn to each other and say, “Peace be with you, and also with you.” What we are actually wishing for each other and ready to give — is for all of us to be at peace with ourselves. Then when God wants to use us, we will be ready and willing to follow that path. So when Jesus sent out the seventy-two, that was a symbol that they were going to all the corners of the world.
He is not just sending us. He is sending millions of people to go every direction. The gift is that we have to be comfortable with ourselves and then we can be comfortable with someone else.
It may humble you, but I am asking all of you to think of some experience in your life in which you sense that God put you there at that moment. Maybe it was an experience in which you encountered someone you knew, or maybe you did not know that person — but you were put there at a moment that changed that person’s life. That person may never know your name but will never stop praying. And if he or she does know your name, that person will keep reminding you of that moment.
As a priest I get into a lot of situations. Some are very joyful, and some are very strenuous when it comes to giving the gift of peace. An example I have used many times because it touched my life happened over 40 years ago. I was sitting in my office and this mother came in with her children and said, “We just moved here and I would like to register in the parish.” So we sat down and visited for a while. They told me a little bit about their history and where they were going to live and I knew exactly where that house was, and that was another part of this story.
So I got them all enrolled and told the oldest boy that we had a youth program and I wanted him to get involved in that. For the other children there were religion programs and we had the grade school. Well, about a week or two went past and all of a sudden I got a phone call and it was the oldest boy. He said, “Father, could you come to the house right now?” And I said, “Sure. Why?” He said, “I don’t know who else to call but my mom just killed my dad in the kitchen. I’ve got my brothers and sisters and we’re in the bedroom.”
I said, “I’ll be right there.” I called the police and headed for the house. I hugged the mother, the father was slumped over on the kitchen floor and I went into the bedroom and I just took the four kids and we gave each other bear hugs and we just sat there on the bed. And I thought to myself, “Wow.” It was all peaceful just a few days ago and now this had erupted in their lives.
After the dad was buried, the mom took the kids and they moved back to where her family was living. I go by that house twice a year. When I go by I stop the car, I say a prayer, and I move on. I don’t know where that family is living or what happened to the mother and children. I am not sharing this story with you because I am so great. I am talking about when we need to bring peace. I could have said, “Oh, gee. I’m sorry. I have a golf game and could I come out a little bit later?” It is just that sometimes God gives us a swift kick and says, “You need to do this. Don’t ask any questions. Just do it.” It might be something that needs to be done and involves your own family, or it might be for a complete stranger.
A couple of weeks ago when we had the disaster at the nightclub in Orlando — you saw scenes of what happened on television. Peace doesn’t mean we are all sitting here crocheting or smoking a cigarette or praying. Peace just means, “I am full of life.” That night the whole nightclub was full of life and in a few seconds people were reaching out and caring for others they had never met — taking their shirts off and tying bands to stop bleeding, and getting on top of another person to shield him.
That is where Jesus sends us and he says it’s going to be that way for the rest of our lives. Soon these children are going to be baptized and they will have their entire lives ahead of them. What we are telling them is, “Just trust in God. The Spirit of God will lead you and will always be there for you.”
So I ask you, go back in your life when you were to be that person of peace and love — when you were being asked to make a difference, or when someone else was put into your life to make a difference, and you have never forgotten that act of kindness.
We are called to be men and women and children of peace. May we just feel the peace right here in this building, this house of worship where we are all asking each other, “I hope you’re at peace. If you’re not, let me know because I can’t tell from the outside.”
I would not have called that family that afternoon but they called me. When everybody was invited to the nightclub they were going there to have fun, not knowing they might save a life.
We are children of God. May we step out of our comfort zone and let God guide us each and every moment.
* * *
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 47 file 0046)