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14B Ezekiel 2:2-5 / 2 Corinthians 12:  7-10 / Mark 6:1-6

Happy 4th of July

I want to read part of letter
Pope Pius XII wrote to America
in the 1940’s when the World had gone mad.

Even though we’re not in a World War like it was then. . .
The letter still applies today.

The American people have a genius
for splendid and unselfish action,
and into the hands of America,
God has placed the destinies of afflicted humanity.

May the noble flame of brotherly love
be kindled in your hearts.

Let it not die. . .

let it be not overcome
by the dust and dirt
of the whirlwind of [an]anti-Christian or
non-Christian spirit.

Keep alive this flame,
increase it,
carry it wherever there be
a groan of suffering,
a lament of misery,
a cry of pain,
and nourish it evermore
with the heat of a love
drawn from the Heart of the Redeemer.


I had a dream last night.

Now I rarely. . . rarely
remember my dreams.

But this one I remember. . .
It woke me up early in the morning. . .
and I got up and started this homily.


In this dream,
I was back at the medical center at UK.

I was a doctor again. . .
and on a medical team
about to start making rounds.

The other doctors on the team
were my friends. . .

we were drinking coffee. . .
enjoying each others company. . .
just waiting for the attending. . .
the head doctor of our team to come
to start rounds.

The attending came. . .
he’s a friend of mine too. . .
his name is Fred.

And the team gathers around Fred to start rounds.

Fred says,
“I got your blood work back.”

I assumed that UK had required
all of us to get a blood test. . .

maybe something about COVID
just to be sure it was safe
for us to see patients.

“I got all of your blood work back. . .
and one of you is sick. . .
it’s you Steve.”

I said,
“Are you sure, Fred?”

“I’m sure. . .
your level is 500.”

So in my dream,
I reasoned that it was one of my
liver function tests.

“So, the cancer has spread to my liver?”

“Yes, it’s in your liver.”


Now this dream isn’t some omen about my cancer. . .

Because I just a couple of weeks ago
I had my five-year cancer check up. . .

and all my labs and scans were normal. . .

so the chance of my cancer coming back is very small. . .

this is only a dream.


And Fred says,
“I’m going to save you. . .

so run home and get your things and
I’ll call you when the OR is ready.”

“He’s going to take part of my liver out,”
I thought.

But in my mind. . .
with metastasis to the liver. . .
I knew it was over. . .

My number had come up.

So I run home,
which was right across the street on Gazette.

I get to my apartment,
grab a garbage bag. . .

rush to my bedroom. . .
stuff a bunch of clean underwear in it. . .

And I sit down. . .
Hold my garbage bag full of clean underwear
and wait for Fred to call.

And as I waited. . .
thinking I would soon meet Jesus. . .
I wasn’t scared.

I just hoped that I’d have a few
So I could be better prepared
to meet Jesus.

And something popped in my head. . .
“my list is too long. . .
my list is too long”. . .

and then I thought about St. Paul. . .

and a great peace came over me. . .

and then I woke up!


Now what’s amazing is how
the brain that God designed
could put together so many seemingly
unrelated things going on in my life
to make a somewhat coherent story.

In real life,
this is what’s been going on:

I did recently have my cancer check up. . .

all the COVID screening UK required
to see patients. . .

Fred, the attending physician
in my dream,
recently took the lead
and organized a dinner next week. . .

with a group of doctor friends
who were the medical team in my dream. . .

I’m reading a new book on
near-death experiences about
what may happen when we die. . .

I just got back from a scripture conference on St. Paul. . .

And that list,
that list that was too long in my dream. . .

that’s related to real life too.


You see,
every morning,
in prayer. . .

I present to God all the ways
that I fall short
in being created in the image and likeness of God. . .

in being like Jesus.

I have all of them written down. . .

I present them to God. . .

Ask for forgiveness. . .

and ask to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. . .

John baptized with water. . .

but Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

And we believe
that when there is baptism in the Spirit
it transforms. . .
it changes. . .
where we can be more like Jesus.

The Spirit is a sanctifier.


And it’s the second reading
from St. Paul that holds all of these
elements in my dream together


In this reading. . .
St. Paul makes an absolute statement
about our journey to God.

“I will boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me”

You see it’s only when we approach God
in humility. . .
with our weaknesses. . .
with our list. . .

that the grace of God. . .
that the love of God. . .
that the Holy Spirit can rush
into our soul and baptize it.

The baptismal waters of the Spirit
only flow downhill. . .
into a humble soul

they won’t flow uphill into a prideful soul.

And as that Spirit flows into our soul. . .
it has a cleansing. . .
a purifying effect. . .
a transformative effect. . .

And over time. . .
over time. . .
the inrushing of the Spirit into
a humble soul
will slowly transform us into another Jesus.


And this is what is so fascinating about this reading.

St. Paul presents his list of weaknesses . .
He calls one of them a thorn in his side. . .

and St. Paul asks Jesus three times
to remove this thorn. . .

and Jesus says. . .
“No!!!”

You see Jesus prefers humility
over perfection and pride. . .

even sometimes not giving the grace
to overcome a certain weakness or sin or challenge. . .

just so we recognize we can’t do it on our own. . .

so we’ll keep coming back. . .
with our list. . .
to be baptized in the Spirit.


So what’s sufficient for God?

Not perfection. . .

But a humble and contrite heart God will not spurn.

That brings God’s grace. . .

That brings the Holy Spirit. . .
Who is also a consoler. . .
Who brings peace.

My grace. . .
My grace is sufficient for you.

Anything but pride.


And with that attitude. . .

No matter where we are on our journey. . .

Even if we’re in the dream world. . .
sitting in a chair. . .
holding a garbage bag full of clean underwear. . .
waiting to go the hospital to have
part of our liver removed. . .

what ever. . .

We can be at peace with ourselves. . .

and at peace with God.

Maybe God does sometimes communicate through our dreams.


Holy Spirit 07/03-04/2021