Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Zebulon 2:3; 3:12-13
Psalm 146: 6-10
Reading II First Corinthians 1:26-31
Gospel Matthew 5:1-12
When I let go of what I am, I am able to be what God wants me to be.
As we listen to the Beatitudes, it’s one thing to listen to them, it’s another thing to put them into practice — to realize if we are Christians we are not today the same person we were yesterday. At Christmastime we offered a book to you and it was entitled, “Resisting Happiness.” You and I often resist happiness. Jesus, when he took the people up on the mountain, said, “You want things in your life that do not matter. I want to give you something in your life that is going to change you, and not just change you for the moment, but change you for the rest of your life.”
We never know how God works in any of our lives. But I think that all of us here can realize that we have experiences day in and day out. Some of the experiences are very powerful. Some we take for granted. Sometimes we walk away from happiness and it takes us awhile to find it, to come back and know that “God is calling me to be someone today who I have never been before.”
Think about the experiences in your life that have had an impact on your life. But they weren’t for the day, they were for the rest of your life because they enabled you then, and the next day, to explore life in a different way. For instance, several of our students at Quincy Notre Dame went to Washington this week, there are several who go to Catholic Heart Work Camp, all those in athletics take trips all around the surrounding areas, people involved in the fine arts work together to let their voices praise God.
It’s not about what they accomplish, it’s about who they are. When you make those experiences they change you. Right then and there, you know you are not the same person.
When I was a senior at Notre Dame, we started what was known then as the Key Club. Three of us were elected to be president, vice president and secretary of that group. In our senior year the three of us went to Chicago as seniors in high school to the big city. Young people came from all over to discuss, “What does it mean to find leadership in yourself?” We were able to go because of the generosity of a business person in town who drove us up there. When we got there he went to the train station and got us three tickets to come back to Quincy, paid for all of our expenses at the Hilton Hotel so the three of us could have an experience that changed our lives.
Our children in our grade school do a lot of wonderful things. They open their hearts to God every day. And every day they make a difference. This week they are going to do so many things in the community as was shared here before Mass. The children change day by day. We don’t always see it in ourselves but things make a difference and when you open yourself up to the Spirit of God, then happiness comes into your life and you don’t resist it. You don’t resist Jesus coming into your hearts.
The other day when I was down at Sunset Home, I had finished Mass and as I was leaving I saw a lady in a wheelchair pulled up to the birdcage. Birdcages are now appearing in nursing homes all over the world. So I walked over to her and asked, “How are you doing?” She can’t get out of the wheelchair but she just smiled and said, “I’m doing wonderful. I come out here every day and I just watch these birds. Aren’t they beautiful!”
I said, “Yes, they are. The colors of these birds are fantastic, and when they start to sing it is wonderful.”
And she said, “I forget everything else in my life. I just sit here and everything changes.”
When we open up ourselves to the power of God, God has the power to touch us and to make a difference and it is not a difference for the moment, it is when we accumulate all of these things that we become the person that we might be.
Today you and I have to think about how God has touched our lives through faith. We come to Mass, we sing, we pray, we receive communion. Some Sundays it may be a routine. Other Sundays it may touch us in a way that we have never been touched before.
But if we don’t open up, we resist the happiness of living our faith. I met a couple not to long ago at a funeral luncheon, and we got to talking and they said, “Father, just pray for us. We were blessed to have six wonderful children and we sent them all to Catholic schools, all the way from grade school to high school to college. And now after we have done all of that, all six do not go to church. Four of the six children were married outside of the church. Our grandchildren are not baptized. Do you have any insight as to how we can handle this? What did we do wrong?”
I said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. But what you don’t know is that God will take each one of those kids, one by one, and each one of the grandchildren, one by one, and there is going to be an experience in their life that will change everything. What you gave them, they can never lose. They need something to open themselves up to realize that ‘Wow’ to know who Jesus is, and to be able to pass that on to children from one generation to the next.”
That is how we transform our lives. When Jesus was on the mountain, he didn’t say, “Everything is going to be fun in your life.” He just said, “This is how you need to live your life. And when you live your life in this way, you will find blessings, you will find peace, and you will know that some how there is a God.”
But in order for all of this to happen, we always have to remember, “If I let go of what I am today, I will be able to see what I might be tomorrow.”
* * *
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file Disc C 0016)