Are you a person who says yes to things but regrets later? Or, are you a person who is more likely to say no first but eventually do them later? Do you have the gift of inability to say no? Keep this in your mind as you hear today's readings.
I have never met any Daughters of Jesus who used be here serving this parish as religious sisters for decades, but I did learn one thing about them from talking to all of y'all. They had the gift of extracting 'yes' from y'all knowing that y'all had the gift of inability to say no. Isn't it true? Those of you who said 'yes' to the sisters, did you ever wish that you said 'no' instead at the time? What they asked you to do probably stretched you to the limit because you already had family and work to balance. Looking back, are you glad you said 'yes'?
These past three four weeks, our young people were probably asked to stretch to their limit. There were plenty tree limbs to be picked up outside, plenty mess in the backyard, and sleep without grumbling in no air condition. How well did you do? Did you said yes to your parents but used delay tactics to procrastinate? Parents, did you have any of your children say in the past few weeks, 'It's not fair!' For those parents here who were frustrated with their sons and daughters these past few weeks, rest assured because our young people learned their lesson. This past two weeks, a group of priests heard confession at our Catholic high schools--Redemptorist, St. Michael's, St. Joseph Academy, and Catholic High. Before confession, I asked all of the students who came to me how their storm experiences were. All of them said that it wasn't too bad even without electricity. And most of them said they were sorry to their parents because they said yes to help them clean up but procrastinated. They all repented. Praise God!
When I was assigned to St. Louis King of France last year as a deacon-intern for six months, I was asked during a staff meeting that I should be assigned to clean the two bathrooms attached to the church. Were they joking? I didn't know at the time. They said Fr. Tippy Hurst who was the pastor for umpteen years cleaned that bathroom. So the day came, I grudgingly filled the mop bucket with Mop-n-Glo and grudgingly cleaned the bathrooms. I was thinking to myself, 'What am I doing? I didn't go to seminary for six years to get a masters degree in theology to learn how to Mop-n-Glo some toilets." What was God doing with me at that time? He was teaching me a lesson. I have promised Him at my Diaconate Ordination that I would willingly become a servant of servants, to be obedient to Him, and to be humble like His Son. St. Paul tells us in our Second Reading, "Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness...he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Whether we said 'yes' readily or resisted with a firm 'no', God teaches us a lesson in both cases. When a mother or father asks their child to do something, there is a reason why they asked. The parent might wanted to teach the child good work ethic, to learn how to clean after themselves, or learn how to be less selfish. Likewise, when God asks us for a 'yes' there is much thought behind why He asked us. In our last Sunday's First Reading in the Book of Sirach, Lord says, "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts." We do not know why He asks us to stretch ourselves or even tackle the impossible. I had many students who came to confession asked me why God would allow their houses to be damaged and lose power. "Lord's way is not fair!" we say. In reply, Lord says the following in our First Reading, "Is it My way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?" When God asks for a 'yes,' the WWF wrestling match going inside of our heart is between "Yes, I will serve" vs "No, I will not serve."" In our Second Reading, St. Paul challenges us, "Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others." I'll leave you with St. Paul's words, "Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking of one thing...have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus."
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Things are beginning to look normal. Last weekend, I went to my first LSU Tiger football game. The fans were out tailgating around the stadium, and there was electrifying energy in the stadium. Cable is back on our TVs, and we were able to watch LSU win again against Auburn on TV. I drove around the neighborhood, and there are less debris piles around the streets. I saw kids playing in the yard, and some boys were on their Razor Ripsticks on the sidewalks.
If things were beginning to look normal, is it beginning to feel normal? We survived two storms, but there is still this sense of uneasiness. Perhaps it's because of a different kind of storm brewing in the Wall Street. Although it's far away from us, it's affecting our retirement funds and bank accounts. These storms have stirred the pot--of our hearts. It just doesn't feel quite normal because our sense of feeling safe and secure are not there yet. We have worked so hard many years to build a sense of security, but these storms there is a sense of helplessness because these storms overwhelmed us. Few years ago after Katrina, I felt this great helplessness and anxiety. I didn't own much material things. Prior to entering the seminary, I gave away most of my things and what I had in my seminary was some books. Yet, my pot was stirred and it was not settling. I felt like I was washed away by waves and ended up somewhere I had no idea where I was.
We have come to this church on Sunday seeking some answers or seeking a sense of peace. Jesus told St. Faustina the following. "Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in you. I desire that this image be venerated throughout the entire world. I promise that the souls that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory." What's the significance of this image and the words, 'Jesus, I trust in you'? Jesus told St. Faustina, "I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine toward souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me." He said, "Distrust on the part of souls is tearing at My insides...despite My inexhaustible love for them they do not trust Me. Even My death is not enough for them."
Jesus has asked me, as his priest, to relay these messages given to St. Faustina. He said to her, "Do not fear anything. I am with you. These matters are in My hands and I will bring them to fruition according to My mercy, for nothing can oppose My will."
Jesus, I trust in You.
Posted by Fr Paul Yi at 10:15 AM
Monday, September 15, 2008
We saw in the evenings this past two weeks around this neighborhood pitch black darkness. Then there it was, B-Quick sign lit up the night. Finally we had a place to fill up our generators and our cars and get some snacks. The lines were horribly long, but hey it was worth the wait. Then tall signs of the fast food places began to lit up. Finally, we had places to get some hot hamburger and fries.
We had our share of grumblings this past two weeks, not too different from the grumblings of the Israelites of our First Reading. They complained to God and to Moses, "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food." Haven't we found ourselves complaining about the same things? After throwing out all our food from freezer and refrigerator, we got tired of eating peanut butter sandwiches, crackers with Vienna sausages, and MRE's. When our rectory finally got power this Wednesday, I went out to Walmart to buy some comfort foods--you know, Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream, Wheat Thins, and chips. Then this Friday morning at 5 in the morning, Fr. Burns woke me up and dragged me to his office because rain was pouring through his office from the tree damage from Gustav. Then blip, the power went out. Do you know where my thought went to? I was asking God, "Lord, are you going to let my Bluebell ice cream melt?"
Around this neighborhood the past two weeks there was one light that never went out despite the power outages from Gustav and Ike. It remained lit as a beacon of hope, a sign of relief for those who were thirsty, tired, and disappointed from all the damages from the hurricanes. That light was our sanctuary light by the tabernacle. People who regularly walked along Stuart Ave. as an exercise told me how they could see the sanctuary light from the street and knew that Jesus was there. Those who came to daily mass told me how looking at Jesus on the cross consoled them. Jesus who suffered on the cross in some way knew about our restlessness and anxiety about our lost wages, trees on our roofs, children stuck at home driving their parents crazy, and downed power lines.
And inexplicably we are drawn to this place this past two weeks, making the sign of the cross, genuflecting before taking our seats, and kneeling before Our Lord. In some way we know and believe that our suffering and fears are nailed upon that cross. And as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent on a pole, we see the Lord of lords, the King of kings, emptying himself to be nailed to that holy cross along with our sufferings. Why? For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. This sign trumps all other man-made signs--including B-Quick, Burger King, and Walmart. No other sign heals, quenches thirst, and satisfies hunger like this holy cross.
I would like to invite you, when you arrive at your home, to make a sign of the cross before a crucifix that you have placed in your home. And you can also sing this little song if you remember it from the Good Friday, "Behold, behold the wood of the cross. On which is hung our salvation. O come let us adore."
"We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You. Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world."
Posted by Fr Paul Yi at 9:51 PM