Saturday, March 02, 2013

warning labels are everywhere!

This past Thursday at mass (I teach at a Catholic school; we go to All School Mass every other Thursday), the homily was given by Father Michael whose messages typically take a very different tone than those given by the regular speaker.  After returning from mass, I told the students in my next class that I really enjoyed the homily; their response was to that they though that Father Michael sounded "angry" and wondered "why was he so serious?"  They had a hard time understanding why the mass "wasn't very encouraging or very happy."  In fact, many of the kids had had a hard time following the message at all.

Here's the run-down of the homily:  (The Old Testament lesson was Jeremiah 17: 5-10; the responsorial Psalm was Psalm 1, and the Gospel lesson was Luke 16: 19ff.) Father Michael showed the warning labels from both a pillow and an extension cord, pointing out: Why are these warning labels needed?  Somebody died."  He used the warning labels to illustrate the significance of the story in Luke 16-- the story of Lazarus and the rich man.  Both the rich man and Lazarus died; Lazarus was taken to heaven and the rich man was taken to hell. The story is a warning that we get one life to live, and if we choose NOT to serve the Lord, then our destination is hell.  Hell is a real place and people really do go there.  This is a serious matter. Father Michael was very grave (and rightly so) in his delivery of his message; hence, the discussion I had with my students one hour later...

... I recapped the story of the rich man and Lazarus and I explained why the message Father Michael delivered IS so very important and so very serious.  The kids responded well to my recap and to my explanation.  I think the reason they understood it coming from me is that they KNOW me-- they've spent the last 7 months being taught by me, asking me questions, seeing me in action, etc.  What a humbling thought-- whether or not my students (or anyone I know) are willing to hear the Word explained by me hinges on whether or not my life gives credence to the words I say. 

The kids asked if I had ever considered becoming a religion teacher, and I told them that I couldn't teach religion at the school; it's not my field of expertise and I'm not Catholic.  Then I explained that I definitely have a relationship with Jesus, so a student asked if I was a Christian. And I said "Yes, that's what I meant when I said I had a relationship with Jesus." He replied that you CAN have a relationship with Jesus but not be a Christian.  That gave me the opportunity to explain that being a Christian means being in a relationship with Jesus and having one's life shaped and molded by him. I had the chance to talk about the importance of reading Scripture and of daily prayer.  What a blessing to be able to take time away from Chemistry to talk about the Lord!

Jeremiah 17: 5-10
This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve.

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