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A Life Long Invitation

Rev. Paul V. Redmond
Professor Emeritus
Mount St. Mary's University

(11-08-09) I have an unusual invitation for you today and everyday-I dare you -- I even "double dare you" to accept this invitation chiseled in the stirring words of the poet, Robert Browning:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in (God's) hand
Who saith "A whole I planned"
Youth shows but half;
trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

How thrilling it is to be on such a journey in which "all our days" are in the hands of the Lord." Fiction, films and DVD have, at times stirred and even deepened our insights in the importance of our own "journey." As youngsters and perhaps as oldsters we experienced the exciting journey out of the wardrobe into the land of Narnia in the fabled C.S. Lewis chronicle. Several of us traveled the powerful, countercultural journey in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings -as we teamed up with Sam and Frodo in Middle Earth in their struggle to destroy the "Ring" of Original Sin which binds us all.

Reflect, friends, on our own journey in terms of a haunting, challenging question that I raised last week at another Mass: "Can you and I become saints?" "Can you and I become saints?" I stressed that the answer is "yes" No matter how crazy, confused or complex and convoluted our lives may be -to become a saint is not a frivolous option. To become a saint is to find your "true self"-the self that God created you to be. . .. the ultimate joy.

I ask you today as I asked others last week: "Do you believe that God will make you what he created you to be?"-"Do you believe that God will make you what he created you to be?"-If, friend, you answer "Yes, I sure do." -- my follow-up question is: "Do you consent to let God do this - to make you what he created you to be? Do you consent?" If you give your consent to God's making you want he created you to be", then you already have the desire to become a saint---that is your "genuine self", your "true self". On this lifelong journey, you need to discover your own Calcutta. You and I can well be inspired by the journey of others ---others who are already recognized as saints and the un-canonized as well--our loved ones who have gone ahead of us. We find ourselves praying to them. We surely do not wait for Vatican chimes of an official declaration. We find ourselves moving from praying "for them", to praying "to them."

On your journey to become your "true self" (a saint), it helps at times to look back on your own life-a day ago, a month ago, years ago and take heart in a moving experience that solidly gripped you. You may well be able to say-"yes", God was with me." With a thankful heart, please realize that Jesus, our Brother and our Lord is always with us on our journey home with him to his Father and ours. Every step on our stumbling way home IS HOME in the one who is constantly loving us.

Today, Mark assists us again on our journey in giving us the unforgettable story of the nameless widow-the one and only religious figure in the whole temple area with whom Jesus can identify. Like her, he will soon be asked to give his "whole livelihood". . his life to God, his Abba and ours, and hold nothing back.

Jesus points to this "sacrificial widow" as a model of radical trust in God. Her gift points out how much her life was turned to God. In giving to others the goodness that God had given to her this nameless woman gave a human face to compassion. She gave not from any surplus-she had none. She gave from "all she had to live on." Practically speaking, her action may strike us as reckless. But, in pointing her out as a model Jesus is not asking us to bankrupt ourselves. Rather-this episode comes right before the passion story in which Jesus will give of his whole self, all that he is-his Body and Blood -- out of love for his Father and for us. Jesus gives us this woman as a model of self-giving… a "giving of our selves" . . .to God. We fill out this "giving of ourselves to God" by "giving ourselves to others."

The basic challenge, friends, for you and me on our adventurous journey is to take the risk of such giving of our selves. You may well be delightfully and gratefully surprised at discovering or re-discovering who you are. . . .the beloved of God.

Read other homilies by Father Paul