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Isaiah 25:6-10/ Phil 4:12-14,19-20 / Matthew 22:1-14

 

Lately, my favorite penance to

give in confession is this:

 

First, I ask the penitent what their

favorite Jesus story is. . . .

 

I love to see those wheels turning

and then hear the variety of responses.

 

Once they tell me what their

favorite Jesus story is—

 

I say take some time in the next day or so. . .

take 15 minutes—

and just pray with that story.

 

What’s your favorite Jesus story?

 

Well, I started thinking about

my own favorite Jesus story.

 

And I realized that my

favorite Jesus story changes

based upon what’s going on in my life.

 

So last week I thought about

what my favorite Jesus stories were—

and I came up with two.

 

My first is the story of Peter

walking on water.

 

Remember this one.

 

Jesus told his disciples to go the

other side of the Sea of Galilee

while he went off to pray by himself.

 

When nightfall came

there was a scary storm.

 

Jesus comes to them

walking on the water.

 

They’re already scared to death

and when they saw Jesus

they thought He was a ghost—

and they became even more scared.

 

But Jesus told them

Don’t be afraid,

it was Him.

 

And then Peter,

now knowing it was Jesus,

asked Jesus if he would command him,

to walk on water. . .

 

And Jesus commanded him.

 

And Peter walked on water.

 

Peter walked on that choppy water

until he looked around at the storm—

got scared.—

and took his eyes off Jesus. . . .

 

And he sank like a rock.

 

But Jesus was right there to rescue him.

 

As I was praying with this story—

I knew immediately why it had

arisen from my subconscious.

 

The other day,

I was with one of my best friend’s family—

the parents and their post-college age boys. . .

 

and the daggone election came up.

 

Now they are a divided household—

Some are Democrats. . . .

Some are Republicans. . .

And they support different candidates.

 

It got pretty heated.

 

Now I’m usually pretty non-political. . .

 

But as the argument went on. . .

I felt like there was some dark power

pulling me into the mud pit.

 

And as I was pulled deeper into the mud pit. . .

I started lambasting this politician and

then lambasting another politician.

 

Throwing mud. . .

 

and “wallering” in it.

 

We weren’t debating issues . . .

No!!!

 

We were going after persons—

beloved children of God . . .

 

Scratching them to pieces. . .

 

violently pushing their faces deep in the mud.

 

It made me feel horrible. . .

dirty.

 

And I also realized that every time

I turned on the news in my car. . . .

 

Or scrolled down a news site on my Iphone. . .

 

Or was around most conversations about politics. . .

 

That some dark power was pulling me

back into the mud pit.

 

That’s why this Jesus story of Peter

walking on water

was poking at my conscience. . .

 

and my consciousness.

 

In my prayer, this Jesus story revealed

that Jesus is inviting us. . .

just like He invited Peter. . .

to a special place while here on earth. . .

 

We’re called to walk on water with Jesus. . .

 

Not to sink down and “waller” in the mud.

 

And I decided no more. . .no more.

 

I’m going to try to walk on water with Jesus. . .

Focusing on Him. . . .

 

And together with Jesus

instead of wrestling in the mud

to destroy another human being. . .

 

I’d pray for them. . .

 

and I’d pray for myself.

 

So discussing and civilly debating issues—

Yes .

 

Standing for what we believe in—

Absolutely.

 

Destroying another child of God—

No. . .

We love our enemies.

 

And after praying this story. . .

 

Even though I had been

drawn into the mud pit by some dark power. .  .

 

I felt good. . .

because I had a direction to go in . . .

 

I wanted to be with Jesus—

Walking on water—

Above the chaos and dirt—

Out of the mud

 

What’s your favorite Jesus story?

 

Another favorite Jesus story I thought of—

was today’s Gospel.

 

No doubt this story was on my mind

because I was preparing to preach on it. . . .

 

and as I prayed with it

a similar revelation emerged.

 

It’s a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven. . .

the Kingdom of God. . .

 

A Kingdom where Satan has been

dethroned as the dark and controlling

power over the world. . .

 

A kingdom where justice emerges

victorious over injustice. . .

 

Where unity has defeats division. . .

 

Where love conquers hate.

 

Just thinking about it brings peace, doesn’t it?

 

Well, in this Jesus story—

Jesus echoes the Old Testament metaphor

of the Kingdom of God being like a

great wedding feast that

the King throws for his Son.

 

The finest food. . .

 

The most exquisite wine. . .

 

All that separates us is gone—

there’s not even a faint memory of division. . .

 

All tears wiped away. . .

 

Fear a thing of the past. .  .

 

All illnesses cured. . . .

 

And death an unknown concept. . .

 

Just peace and joy. . .

 

Peace and joy.

Let that soak in. . .

 

It feels so good.

 

I love Isaiah’s other image of God’s Kingdom. . .

 

the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb. . .

 

the leopard shall lie down with the young goat. . .

 

the cow and the bear shall graze together. . .

 

the lion shall eat hay like the ox. . .

 

the baby shall play by the viper’s den,

 

and a child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.

 

Can you picture it?

 

Feels good.

 

Well, God’s Kingdom obviously

hasn’t come to complete fulfilment yet. . . .

 

yet!!!

 

But again we Christians are called

to a special place while on this earth. . .

 

We, with the help of God’s grace. . .

help usher in this new Kingdom.

 

We become signs and

We become instruments

of God’s Kingdom

 

This all reminds me of St. Therese of Lisieux

and the discovery that her true vocation was to love.

 

There were sisters in her convent

who just pushed all her buttons. . .

 

And there were sisters who

were just right down mean—

purposely making things difficult.

 

And oh, how Therese wanted to flee. . .

 

or to strike out and get even. . .

to be pulled into the mud pit.

 

But with God’s grace. . .

She overcame her strong emotions

and reached out. . .

and she loved them.

 

And while difficult at first. . .

The more she did it. . .

the better it felt.

 

She felt so close to Jesus. . .

 

and she experienced overwhelming peace and joy. . .

 

she was walking on water with Jesus like Peter. . .

 

and she had accepted her invitation. . .

while here on earth. . .

accepted now her invitation

to the banquet of God’s Kingdom.

 

Doesn’t it feel good to be reminded of who we are. . .

 

And where we’re headed.

 

What’s your favorite Jesus story?

 

Holy Spirit 10/10-11/20