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I led thirty-two teenagers from the parish, with a small gaggle of chaperones, to Denver to see the Pope John Paul II on the occasion of World Youth Day. Thousands of us were gathered in a field waiting when suddenly five helicopters appeared on the scene. First, the bishops processed out on the stage, then the cardinal. When the Pope stepped out, there was a thunderous response from the people. I looked over the shoulders of thousands in front of me, and I saw a white dot. A few weeks after I got back from Denver, my pastor went to Rome for vacation. When he came back, I asked him how it went. He said, “It was fabulous.” He said, “I got to concelebrate Mass with the Holy Father in his private chapel.” I said, “No, I don’t believe you. Only famous people can get close to the Pope. Then he took out several photos of him with the Pope. I said, “What?” I said, “I took thirty-two people to see the pope, to evangelize our youth, and all I got a white dot. You go to Rome on vacation and you get glossies. That is not fair”. He said, “What can I say; I have connections.” Then he said, “Peter, it is all about whom you know.”
There I was in the dentist chair. Because I was a new patient, he had to explain to me the difference between a healthy tooth and an unhealthy tooth. As he was holding a giant plastic tooth, I felt the urge to tell him that I fly fish. I said, “I often fish with my friend who is a fly fisherman, Mel Harris. My dentist and paused for a moment after I said the name. He said, “You know Dr. Melvin Harris? Do you know who he is?” I told him that I thought he was a pretty good fly fisherman.” He said, “He is one of the most respected dentists in the field. I was his student; I saw his work.” He has made great contributions, simplifying complicated procedures. So picture this, I am in a dingy fly fishing with this famous oral surgeon and I didn’t know quite what to say, so I asked him “So, what’s it like being a dentist?” He told me this story. He said someone had severe tooth decay that was related to smoking. I said he had to quit smoking, but he said he couldn’t stop. He tried everything. Anyway, I got him to stop. I said, “How did you do that?” he said, “I told him to close his eyes and picture himself having a cigarette. I asked him what the most pleasant part of smoking was. He said, “Exhaling.” “Why the exhale?” He said, “Because it is so relaxing. When I release my lungs when they are full, it feels all of the stress is leaving my body.” I told him, “Instead of filling your lungs with smoke, fill them with clean, fresh air, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale–how does that work for you?” He said, “It is very relaxing.” He quit. Here is a guy that tried everything and he finally did because he knew the right person.
One of the reasons I came to St. Clement Shrine was to fix the place up. We took out a half a million dollar loan to do it. The first thing we did with the money was to hire an architect to assess the needs of the building. When he was done, he presented his feasibility study which said that we would need at least ten million dollars to do the major work. I was devastated. I thought, “How am I going to do this. I am a priest; I say Mass and hear confessions. What am I going to do? Finally, I thought, I can’t do this job, but I know someone who can. I called a professional contractor whom I could trust: my father. We got the job done, and it didn’t cost ten million. Sometimes we think we have to solve all the problems. Sometimes we shoulder the entire burden. But we will be far more successful if we just know the right person.
Jesus tells the man born blind: “Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.” So he goes to the bottom of the hill, lowers his hands in the water and splashes his eyes over and over again. Then he steps away from the pool rubbing his eyes. He looks up for the first time in his life, light, color, depth and height fill his body. He will never forget that moment. Soon everyone is asking him, “Who opened your eyes?” Why does everyone need to know who opened his eyes? Because it is about who you know. Jesus came so that we would know Him. Whenever we encounter a mission impossible or a difficulty in life that we cannot handle, remember, it is not about us. It is really about whom we know.Back to All Homilies