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Monsignor Yennock on The Storms In Our Lives - Homily from August 13, 2017

Aug 14, 2017

STORMS IN OUR LIVES

NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

AUGUST 13, 2017

 

SOME OF YOU MAY REMEMBER THE STORY OF SCOTT RIGSBY.

IN 2007 SCOTT RIGSBY WAS THE FIRST DOUBLE-LEG AMPUTEE USING PROSTHETICS EVER TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE IN THE SPORTING WORLD'S MOST GRUELING AND PRESTIGIOUS EVENT, THE FORD IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TRIATHLON IN KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII.

HE SWAM 2.4 MILES-- BIKED 112 MILES AND RAN 26.2 MILES. HE DID ALL OF THIS WITH PROSTHESIS UNDER BOTH KNEES. HE WAS 39 YEARS OLD.

 

THE STORY OF SCOTT RIGSBY HAD A HAPPY ENDING BUT HIS LIFE STORY STARTED WITH A TRAGEDY. AT THE AGE OF 18 SCOTT WAS IN A SERIOUS ACCIDENT. AFTER SEVERAL YEARS AND OVER 20 SURGERIES HE HAD BOTH LEGS AMPUTATED BELOW THE KNEES.

 

HE THOUGHT HIS LIFE WAS OVER. HE COULDN’T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS HAPPENED TO HIM. HE DIDN’T SEE HOW ANYTHING GOOD COULD COME FROM THE LOSS OF HIS LEGS. IN HIS HURT HE CRIED OUT IN ANGER AGAINST GOD.

 

LIKE PETER IN THE GOSPEL HE TOOK HIS EYES OFF OF JESUS AND DWELT ON THE MISERY OF HIS LIFE WITHOUT HIS LEGS.

 

ONE DAY A CHAPLAIN TALKED TO HIM FOR OVER TWO HOURS. HE SAID: SCOTT, GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS BUT I KNOW THAT HE HAS A PLAN FOR YOU. SCOTT THOUGHT THIS OVER FOR A LONG TIME. HE PRAYED WITH ALL HIS HEART: GOD WILL YOU PLEASE OPEN A DOOR FOR ME.

 

IN OCTOBER 2005 GOD OPENED A DOOR FOR SCOTT. HE FOUND OUT ABOUT ANOTHER AMPUTEE, SARAH REINERTSEN, WHO COMPLETED THE IRONMAN AT A TRIATHLON IN KONA HAWAII.

 

SCOTT WAS CONVINCED THAT IT WAS GOD’S PLAN FOR HIM TO BE A TRIATHLETE. HE SAID I PLACED MY ORDINARY LIFE IN THE HANDS OF AN EXTRAORDINARY GOD TO DO AN EXTRAORDINARY THING. GOD DID NOT FAIL HIM.

 

THE TRAGEDIES IN OUR LIVES CAN DRIVE US CLOSER TO GOD OR THEY CAN DRIVE US FURTHER AWAY FROM GOD. THE TRAGEDIES IN OUR LIVES CAN CLOSE THE DOOR FOREVER OR CAN OPEN ANOTHER DOOR.THE DIFFERENCE IS IN HONEST PRAYER THAT SPRINGS FROM FAITH.

 

I DON’T MEAN JUST ANY KIND OF PRAYER. I MEAN PRAYER THAT PLACES COMPLETE TRUST IN GOD-- THE KIND OF PRAYER THAT JESUS SPOKE TO HIS FATHER WHEN DEATH WAS CLOSING IN ON HIM—THE KIND OF PRAYER THAT PETER SAID WHEN HE BEGAN TO SINK: LORD SAVE ME. THE KIND OF PRAYER THAT SCOTT RIGSBY SAID: LORD, PLEASE, OPEN A DOOR FOR ME.

 

WHEN PETER WAS WALKING ON THE WATER HE WAS BEING SAVED BY JESUS BUT WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT?  HIS FAITH BEGAN TO WEAKEN. DOUBT BEGAN TO DOMINATE HIM AND HE BEGAN TO SINK. AS SOON AS HE CRIED OUT “LORD SAVE ME” IMMEDIATELY JESUS STRETCHED OUT HIS HAND AND CAUGHT PETER. JESUS SAID TO HIM WHAT HE SAYS TO US: “WHAT LITTLE FAITH YOU HAVE. WHY DID YOU DOUBT?”

 

WHY DID PETER DOUBT? DID HE FORGET THE FIRST WORDS THAT JESUS SAID TO HIM “TAKE COURAGE, IT IS I, DO NOT BE AFRAID.” WHAT WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT WORDS THAT JESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES: I AM HERE. THOSE ARE THE WORDS THAT A FATHER SAYS TO SOOTHE A LITTLE CHILD. DON’T WORRY CHILD I’M HERE. TRUST ME.

 

WE ARE NOT QUICK TO BELIEVE WHEN THE WORLD TUMBLES DOWN AROUND US. WE ARE NOT QUICK TO BELIEVE WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO US. WE WANT TO BELIEVE BUT WE ARE DISTRACTED BY THE STRONG WINDS THAT THREATEN OUR SAFETY. LIKE PETER WE THINK MORE ABOUT THE WINDS THAN WE THINK ABOUT HIM. LIKE PETER WE BEGIN TO SINK AND FALL APART BECAUSE WE TAKE OUR EYES OFF OF JESUS.

 

IF WE ALLOW IT THE TRAGEDIES IN OUR LIVES CAN DRAW US CLOSER TO GOD AND CLOSER TO EACH OTHER. DOYOU THINK THAT PETER HAD A STRONGER FAITH AFTER THAT EPISODE IN THE WATER? DO YOU THINK THAT THE DISCIPLES WERE CLOSER TO EACH OTHER AFTER THEY WITNESSED THE POWER OF JESUS PRESENCE? DO YOU THINK THAT THE DISCIPLES HAD MORE COURAGE AS THEY LOOKED BACK ON THAT SCENE ON THE LAKE?

 

WHAT ABOUT THE STRUGGLES IN YOUR LIFE-- WORRIES ABOUT SCHOOL AND THE FUTURE—THE STRUGGLE OF KEEPING A JOB AND SUPPORTING YOUR FAMILY—THE THREAT OF SICKNESS AND DEATH—THE LONELINESS OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS--THE HURT OF REJECTION-- THE EMBARASSMENT AND FEAR OF SCANDAL AND PERSONAL RUIN—THE STRUGGLE WITH TEMPTATIONS WITH ALCOHOL, GREED, DRUGS AND PORNOGRAPHY.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE STRONG WINDS OF LIFE BEAT AGAINST YOU UNTIL YOU CANNOT BREATHE? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN IT SEEMS THAT GOD HAS ABANDONED YOU?

 

IN 1943 DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR, A BIG TRANSPORT SHIP, THE DORCHESTER, WAS HIT BY A GERMAN TORPEDO AND SUNK IN THE ICY WATERS NEAR GREENLAND. 700 MEN DIED ON THAT SHIP.

 

FOUR CHAPLAINS, A RABBI, A CATHOLIC PRIEST AND TWO PROTESTANT MINISTERS GAVE THEIR LIFE JACKETS TO THE DROWNING SAILORS. THE FOUR CHAPLAINS PRAYING TOGETHER LOST THEIR LIVES WHILE ENCOURAGING THE MEN WHO WERE GOING DOWN.

 

REV. CLARK POLING WAS ONE OF THE PROTESTANT CHAPLAINS. HIS FATHER WAS REV. DANIEL POLING THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN HERALD. WHEN REV. DANIEL POLING HEARD OF HIS SON’S DEATH HE PUT HIS FACE IN HIS HANDS AND SOBBED UNCONTROLLABLY. HIS FRIENDS WERE WORRIED ABOUT HIM. SUDDENLY HE LOOKED UP AND SAID “I BELIEVE, I BELIEVE. I DON’T UNDERSTAND BUT I BELIEVE”.

 

THE DISCIPLES DID NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING ON THE SEA OF GALILEE.

 

AFTER THEY SAW JESUS AND PETER WALKING ON WATER---AFTER THE WIND AND THE SEA WERE CALMED ALL THEY COULD SAY WAS”WHO IS THIS MAN? WHO IS THIS MAN WHO TALKS TO THE WIND?”

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF OUR FAITH IS: WHO IS THIS MAN THAT WE FOLLOW? WHO IS THIS MAN WHOM WE ALLOW TO DIRECT OUR LIVES? WHO IS THIS MAN WHOM WE TURN TO WHEN LIFE BECOMES TOO MUCH FOR US ALONE? WHO IS THIS MAN THAT WE WOULD GIVE UP OUR LIVES FOR HIM?

 

DO WE FOLLOW HIM BECAUSE HE IS THE BEST MAN WHO EVER LIVED? DO WE FOLLOW HIM BECAUSE NO MAN HAS EVER SPOKEN AS THIS MAN HAS? DO WE FOLLOW HIM BECAUSE GOD HAS WORKED MIRACLES THROUGH HIM? DO WE FOLLOW HIM BECAUSE HE IS COMPASSIONATE AND FORGIVING? DO WE FOLLOW HIM BECAUSE HE HAS CAPTURED THE HEARTS OF MEN AND WOMEN FOR OVER 2000 YEARS?

 

AFTER THE STORM AT SEA THE APOSTLES IN THE BOAT RECOGNIZED WHO JESUS WAS. THEY MADE UP THEIR MIND FROM THAT DAY FORWARD THEY WOULD FOLLOW HIM EVEN TO THEIR DEATH. LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY TO HIM WHEN THE STORM IS OVER:  “YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD”.

 

THE ONLY REASON TO FOLLOW JESUS IS BECAUSE WE KNOW HIM TO BE THE SON OF GOD.

 

WHEN THE TRAGEDIES OF LIFE STRIKE US WE BELIEVE BECAUSE THE SON OF GOD PROMISED TO BE WITH US. WHEN THE TRAGEDIES OF LIFE STRIKE US WE BELIEVE THAT THE SON OF GOD WHO DIED AND ROSE AGAIN WILL KEEP HIS PROMISE.

 

WHEN DARKNESS ENTERS OUR LIVES WE KNOW THE FEELING OF DANIEL POLING WHEN HE SAYS AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS SON: I DO NOT UNDERSTAND-- I BELIEVE, BUT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

 

WHEN THE TRAGEDIES OF LIFE STRIKE US, HOW DO WE FIND GOD?

 

SCOTT RIGSBY FOUND HIM WHEN A TRAGIC ACCIDENT ROBBED HIM OF BOTH LEGS AT THE AGE OF 18.

 

ELIJAH THE PROPHET FOUND HIM IN THE WHISPERING SOUND AT THE ENTRANCE TO A CAVE.

 

PAUL FOUND HIM IN A FLASH OF LIGHT ON THE WAY TO DAMASCUS.

 

PETER FOUND HIM IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORM AT SEA.

 

WE FIND GOD IN DIFFERENT PLACES AND AT DIFFERENT TIMES IN OUR JOURNEY. WHEN DID YOU FIND HIM?

 

DID YOU FIND HIM ON THE DAY OF YOUR FIRST HOLY COMMUNION WHEN YOU RECEIVED JESUS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE EUCHARIST?

 

DID YOU FIND HIM WHEN YOU HEARD THAT HE SAW A DEAD GIRL IN HER BEDROOM AND ALL THE PEOPLE WERE READY TO PUT HER IN THE GRAVE AND JESUS RAISED HER TO LIFE AND GAVE HER BACK TO HER FATHER? DID YOU BEGIN TO WONDER: “WHO IS THIS MAN WHO CAN BRING A PERSON BACK TO LIFE?”

 

DID YOU FIND HIM ON THE WAY TO CALVARY ON GOOD FRIDAY? WERE YOU EVER DEEPLY MOVED BY THE PASSION AND DEATH OF JESUS? DID YOU BELIEVE IT WHEN THEY TOLD YOU THAT HE SUFFERED AND DIED TO SAVE YOU FROM YOUR SINS?

 

DID YOU EVER WEEP WHEN YOU MADE THE WAY OF THE CROSS?

DID YOU FIND HIM ON EASTER SUNDAY WHEN THEY TOLD YOU THAT HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD—THE ONLY PERSON TO WALK AWAY FROM HIS OWN GRAVE BY HIS OWN POWER?  

 

WE FIND GOD IN DIFFERENT WAYS AND IN DIFFERENT TIMES IN OUR JOURNEY.

 

ELIJAH THE PROPHET TELLS US WHERE HE FOUND GOD.

 

THEN THE LORD SAID TO HIM,
"GO OUTSIDE AND STAND ON THE MOUNTAIN BEFORE THE LORD; THE LORD WILL BE PASSING BY."

A STRONG AND HEAVY WIND WAS RENDING THE MOUNTAINS
AND CRUSHING ROCKS BEFORE THE LORD—
BUT THE LORD WAS NOT IN THE WIND.

AFTER THE WIND THERE WAS AN EARTHQUAKE—
BUT THE LORD WAS NOT IN THE EARTHQUAKE.

AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE THERE WAS FIRE—
BUT THE LORD WAS NOT IN THE FIRE.

AFTER THE FIRE THERE WAS A TINY WHISPERING SOUND.

WHEN HE HEARD THIS, ELIJAH HID HIS FACE IN HIS CLOAK
AND WENT AND STOOD AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE CAVE.

 

IF ALONG THE WAY OF LIFE YOU HAVE LOST YOUR SAVIOR. HIDE YOUR FACE AND TRY FINDING HIM IN THAT TINY WHISPERING SOUND THAT YOU HEAR WHEN YOU ARE SILENT AND HUMBLE BEFORE HIM.

 

 

 

 

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