First, I’d like to thank everyone who is here today. As I mentioned just before the beginning of Lent that I’d be leaving, our Lenten journey is taking a slightly different flavor this year as I prepare for my move. Today’s gospel passages tie in well with our additional activities today.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”In a way, my pending departure is a death experience for the community. Some of the concerns I’ve heard concerning my move:
“What about Mass at the Bluffs, or the hospital?” “What about daily Mass?” “Who will take pictures at our games?” “What about the projects we’ve been talking about doing?”
There will be something missing and also a sense of grieving over the loss. However, through this death like experience, new things can take fruit.
We already have prayer taking place at the Bluffs and the hospital. As for new life in these areas, we need additional volunteers who are willing to take part in these activities. While we have a group of people who take communion to the homebound after Mass on Sunday, we need some help take communion to the hospital on Thursdays. This could be the rising of new life not only for the people at the hospital, but also for the people who might step forward to help in this weekly ministry.
What about daily Mass? We can not have Mass without a priest, but a community can gather daily to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or other devotion in the life of the Church. I want to encourage our daily Mass goers to continue to gather on a regular basis to pray for the community and to pray for vocations. Don't forget to gather on Wednesdays for the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. With God’s help, you’ll have a permanent priest assigned here again soon and be able to return to the practice of having Mass each day.
Pictures at ball games – I hope someone realizes what a great thing this is for the kids who are playing. As a non-parent, I could focus on taking pictures of all of the kids at a game. Not only did this practice inspire the kids, but I had comments passed on from family members states away who appreciated the fact they could see their grandchildren, or nephews, or nieces, or even their children, taking part in their high school sporting events. Again, this is an opportunity for someone else to rise to a new life.
Then we have the other projects we’ve been working on. Some are more substantial, like saving the old church, or covering our exposed surfaces on the church in Geraldine. They still need proper coordination with the diocese and I’m willing to act as a resource person for this until a new priest is assigned, but it is good for others to learn how the permissions and such truly work. This is again a chance for new life, or at least a difference in the life of those involved.
In a way, my “death” should bring some new life to the parish.
But, while our immediate experience may give us an example for today’s Gospel, we need to remember what our Gospel is really about.
It is not about our life and death, but about Christ foretelling his own death and new life. Starting tomorrow we transition from the Eucharistic Prayer Prefaces for Lent to those of the Passion. Tomorrow we will hear:
For through the saving Passion of your Son, the whole world has received a heart to confess the infinite power of your majesty, since by the wondrous power of the Cross your judgement on the world is now revealed in the authority of Christ crucified.We are preparing to celebrate the dying of a grain of wheat that did bear much fruit. When we celebrate Christ’s passion and death we are also ready to celebrate the new life we receive through him. It is Christ who is our hope. He reminds us,
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”Christ was not focused on this world, but on the world to come. He knew the joy of eternal life with the Father. We, too, need to learn to focus all of our actions so that they lead us to the life to come. It is not always easy. We need to be a people of hope realizing that we are called to carry crosses in every aspect of our lives.
What is the new life that will come to the parish as I leave? We can not answer that question today. We’ll have to see how it develops. Let’s remember what we heard at the end of this part of Jesus’ discourse:
Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.In my service to the Christ and his Church, I've been called to serve in Livingston. The challenge for all is to find ways to follow Christ and serve the Father.