Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jan. 18, 2009: 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time

Few days ago, a friend of mine sent a link to Youtube of a man by the name of Nick Vujicic. When I clicked on it, I saw a man who did not have any arms or legs, for he was born without them. If you want to see what he looks like, go to my homily website. [Just Google, 'homilies of Father Paul Yi'] Nick is an Australian, born in 1982. His father was a protestant pastor, so Nick grew up learning about how Jesus loved him and how he was wonderfully and fearfully made. But that did not stop Nick from thinking about his future. He got angry at God. On one hand he learned from Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." So Nick complained, "God what kind of hope and future do I have? I'm teased at school for being so different. How would I ever get married? God, even if I got married, I can't even hold my wife's hands. If we have children, how would I ever put my arms around my children when they cry? How would I ever get a job?" He even thought about ending his life, for it seemed so hopeless, alone, and pointless.

In the video clip, Nick is telling this to a gymnasium full of high school students whose eyes were fixated intently on Nick. Nick stands less than 4 feet with only torso and hips, and he proceeds to fall to the ground to demonstrate a point. He said, "Along the life you may fall. And what do you do when you fall? You get back up. But there are times in your life you don't feel like you have the strength to get back up. For me it seems impossible to get back up, but it's not. But if I try 100 times and fail and give up, do you think that I'll ever get up? No. It matters not how many times you try, it matters how you finish. Are you going to finish strong? Then you'll receive the strength to get back up." As Nick said this, he got up laboriously only using his head and torso. In the audience, high school students began to cry. In all those teary eyes, you could read what was going inside them. “Nick, I felt alone and hopeless because of my circumstances. But you’ve shown me that I can overcome those circumstances with God’s help.” Nick told the crowd why he thought God created him—to be a prophet of God’s hope. He was a living testament to Jeremiah’s prophecy: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

This coming week, many young people from our own parish and our diocese will be taking a long bus trek up to Washington DC. No, they are not going there for the presidential inauguration. Our high school students from St. Joseph Academy, Catholic High, Redemptorist, St. Michaels, and others will march with estimate half-million people from all over U.S. to March for Life. Our children going on this trip are answering God’s call as Samuel in our First Reading. “Here I am. You called. Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” And what is God calling these young people to? ‘My dear children help the adults to understand that I send children into the world not to harm the adults, but to prosper them, to give them hope for the future. Help remind the adults that they were once vulnerable in their mother’s womb. I sent them parents who understood the beauty and sanctity of life. I sent them parents who protected life from the beginning.’

St. Paul reminds us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price.” Once conceived, a child—who may be invisible to the eye, who may not even have all his limbs like Nick Vujicic, who may be born to a single mother, or even born through a tragic circumstance—has received something that cannot be taken away by any human being. That something is human dignity—created by God, sustained by God, redeemed by God, graced by God, and destined by God. Human dignity is not an achievement but an endowment from God from the very beginning.

I know there are some of us here who may share Nick Vujicic’s sentiments when he felt like giving up because of impossible circumstances. Nick still this day wakes up every day looking at his limbs to see if God has answered his request—that God would miraculously grow his arms and legs while he was sleeping. Yet he is not disappointed at God for not answering his request. And some of us here, we hope that when we wake up we hope that our circumstances would have changed miraculously. Jesus asks us today, “What are you looking for?” When we reply, “Jesus, I’m looking for your plans for me, the plans that which you said will be future full of hope.” Jesus replies, “Come, and you will see.” ‘Come, I’ll show you how your impossible circumstances will be my instrument for your victory.’