Read the Homily

Once I was on vacation, waiting in the parking lot for Fr. Tom to get back with lunch. While I was standing there, I watched a large barrel-chested man walking his Chihuahua. The size variance between the two looked funny, but I didn’t say anything. He came over to me and said, “How was the fishing.” I said truthfully that I didn’t do anything. He said, “Morris Island is loaded with fish. I was just there. I would be still there if I didn’t have to go to work. The parking is a little tricky to find, but it is at the end of the road.” When Tom got back, we left. Allow me to describe to you the public parking facilities at Morris Island. The parking lot is nestled in the midst of a very exclusive community. As you are driving there, you will see signs on both sides of the road that read “No Parking,” “Tow Away Zone,” “Keep Out,” “We Hate You,” “Leave Your Wallet at the Curb and Go Away.” My friend suggested that we turn around.  I said, “I am not giving up.” As we started to think that we were not on the right road, I turn the corner and there is a big sign that reads: “Welcome Visitors.” We pulled in and found a bunch of fishermen looking real happy. You could tell they had a great day of fishing. I went up to one of them and asked, “How was the fishing?”  He said, “Great, but it is all over. The tide changed, and the fish took off.” I was still determined not to give up. We walked about a mile and a half down the beach to the point and it wasn’t over. There were plenty of fish, and we had the whole place to ourselves.

Let me re-cap what happened. I got a valuable piece of information, and I left on a journey.   During the entire journey, I had bad directions and lousy advice. I got no encouragement, and I had many reasons to turn back. The only thing I had was a piece of information to keep me motivated. That was all I needed. The lesson here is when you get some valuable information; do not give up on it.

Joseph got some valuable information about a Son. It was joyful news that God was going to send a Savior into the world. After the information there were obstacles. Mary was pregnant outside of wedlock. There was talk of divorce. The child was born in poverty. The baby’s life was threatened by Herod, one of the most ruthless and powerful men of the day. The threat was real, and they had to exile themselves to another country for an undetermined amount of time. Joseph could not return to the town of his business. They lost their child for three days – a nightmare for any parent. There were a lot of reasons to stop believing, but Mary and Joseph never gave up because they had information. Because they never gave up, the Scripture says that Jesus grew up in wisdom.

Where did Jesus learn to eat dinner with tax collectors and sinners, forgive them, and give them all a second chance in life? He didn’t learn that from the temple theologians. He learned it at Nazareth. Where did Jesus learn to go to a synagogue during the Sabbath, take a woman who was crippled for over eighteen years and cure her? Not in the temple. Where did Jesus learn to take off His outer garment, put a towel around His waist and wash the feet of His disciples? He would never have learned that at the temple. Where did Jesus learn to say on the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” Not the temple. He learned it in Nazareth at the school of Joseph and Mary.

One of our seminarians was going to be ordained near Los Angeles, and he asked if I would give the homily at his first mass. At the end of the mass, the newly ordained stood up to thank his parents and gave them each a gift. He presented to his father a stole and said, “Dad, this is to remind you that the mercy, kindness, and generosity that I will offer in my ministry, I first learned from you. He then gave his mother a purificator. He told his mom, “When you finally leave this world and go to the pearly gates of heaven, St. Peter will ask you what have you done in your life that should allow you to enter into heaven. This will remind you to tell Him that you lived your life in a way that inspired your son to be a priest.” Needless to say, he didn’t need me to give the homily. The parents lived the message before they inspired their son with the message.

Never give up on valuable information. Yes, we will meet obstacles. But remember every great achievement has a price.

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