Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  We don’t realize just how radical that Trinitarian statement that we just made is.  At yesterday’s Jesseville High School graduation ceremony, one of the graduates who is from our parish gave the Invocation and began with the sign of the cross.  You could see heads everywhere turn and look up.  For many people the mention of the trinity is met with skepticism and disbelief.  In many parts of the world the sign of the cross could get us in serious trouble.  There are countries where we would immediately be unwelcome, maybe even in danger. 

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If you were here where Bishop Taylor confirmed six members of our parish you will remember how much fun he had at the beginning of Mass with the sprinkling rite.  He started by dousing Fr. Bill and me and then he proceeded to give everyone in church a good sprinkling.  He was grinning from ear to ear and his comment when he came back to the altar was, “Easter is supposed to be a time of joy, we are supposed to be happy!”  As is always true with a Bishop, he was right.  This is a season of joy. 

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Two words that sum up the Christian life.  Two words that capture the whole meaning of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.  Follow me.  That is how our Gospel ends today, not with a suggestion, an idea or a thought but rather a commandFollow me.  What we learn from Christ’s death and resurrection is that our God is a God of forgiveness and redemption. If only we follow Him.  But so often that is not the kind of God we want.  We want a god that rescues us, a god that will save us from humiliation and pain in this life.  We want a god like the god of old, at least of the Old Testament.  We want a god that will part the Red Sea of our life, miraculously bring us through all the hardship and slavery we face to a promised land.  Or promised life.  A god that will defeat the forces that oppose us and our happiness.  No sickness, no ungrateful children, no dying spouses. 

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Today makes no sense without Holy Thursday and Easter makes no sense without Holy Thursday and Good Friday.  These three days encapsulate the core message of Christianity.  Each day builds on the previous and develops the theme.  It all started yesterday, Holy Thursday, and the message for us was summed up by Christ after he washed the feet of his disciples.  “Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.  If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” 

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“It seems as though through purely earthly accidents we are made responsible for what is heavenly and divine."

Karl Rahner, a German Jesuit theologian, wrote those words to describe what happened to Saint Joseph when he was asked by an angel to be the husband to Mary and support her in the birth and raising of Jesus.  Something of God was entrusted into his care, not because he wanted it, planned it, or because he himself was central to the event.  He was asked to do something simply because of circumstance.   And, what he was asked to do radically reshaped his life in a way not of his own choosing.

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