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One day, Jerry and I were fly fishing. Around noon, Jerry took the car to get some lunch. When he returned, two hours later, I asked him, “What took you so long”? He said that the car wouldn’t start because the anti-theft device activated. The car thought Jerry was stealing the car. He then went into exacting detail how he got the car to start. I was more interested in my lunch, so throughout his story, I kept interrupting him, “Is this my sandwich? Jerry, did you get any chips with this? “Do you have any mayonnaise”? Five or so months later, I was at a parish giving a talk. After I finished, I got into the car, turned the ignition key and nothing. I looked at the dash and saw the theft prevention light flashing. It was then I remembered that Jerry had the same problem. Even though I was not paying too much attention, I did remember a few things. He said something about turning on the ignition, but not all the way. Then he said something about turning the key on the off position for ten minutes. He specifically said, “It has to be ten minutes exactly.” So, I waited for ten minutes. Sure enough, the theft light went out, and I was able to start the car. On the way home, I knew why Jerry wanted to tell me how to start the car. He knew that someday I would need that information. Sometimes we are given information that may not be pertinent at the time, but we will need if for the future.
When I was seven, my father gave me a talk on the evils of smoking. He told me that the hardest thing he ever did in his life was to quit smoking. “I never want you to have to go through what I went through,” he said. Then he said, “Peter, if you don’t start you will not have to quit.” I thought to myself, “Why is he telling me all this? I am only seven years old. I don’t even have an allowance.” Six years later, I was hanging around after school with some of the boys. Someone took out a pack of cigarettes and passed it around. One by one my friends took a cigarette out of the pack. When it came to me, I remembered what dad told me and I said, “If I don’t start, I won’t have to quit.” My friends thought that was cool. Later I realized that my father knew that someday I would need that information, and that I would need to have that line ready on my tongue to get me out of any peer pressure I would encounter. Sometimes we are given information that we will need in the future.
Jesus knew that Nicodemus was going to help Joseph of Arimathea with the task of taking our Lord down from the cross and prepare His body for burial. This was an important job as the greatest day in human history would be the resurrection. The story of the empty tomb was essential. But before you can have an empty tomb, you have to fill it with a body. To achieve this mission, Nicodemus would need information Jesus met him at night and said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to Myself.” Nicodemus was thinking, “What is He talking about? Who is going to lift Jesus up? He is not making any sense.” Then Jesus told him, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” Nicodemus has no idea what Jesus is talking about. Later, Nicodemus pondered what Jesus meant the night he met Him. “What was He trying to say?” Jesus was giving him information that does not make any sense then, but that he will need in the future. When the day came when Nicodemus was standing under the cross preparing to take Him down for His burial, the words that Jesus spoke finally made sense. “When I am lifted up I will draw everyone to Myself. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” It was at this moment that he realized that the death of Jesus was not the end. It was part a Divine plan to save the world: He needed to be buried in order to have a resurrection. There was still work to do, and He had to bury His body to prepare the world for the empty tomb story that was about to happen.
This is why we come to church and read the scriptures. We receive information so when the storms of life, or a time of trial, we will recall that we are part of the story. We will remember what God told us and never lose hope no matter what happens.Back to All Homilies