Seven year old David was spending Saturday with his grandfather. He always had fun with Grandpa. Well, this one day, David was in his inquisitive mode. He started asking all sorts of questions. Including, “Grandpa, what happens when you die”
Now his Grandpa was only in his early fifties and had not done a whole lot of thinking about his dying, but he answered the question the best he could. He told David that when people die they go before God, and if they have lived their lives the best they could, God unites them to himself.
“Does, that mean, Grandpa, that when you die you won’t be here anymore?”
His Grandfather said, “Yes David, I won’t be here anymore.”
“Does that mean you won’t be able to play catch with me anymore?”
“Yes, David, I won’t be able to play catch with you.”
“And you won’t be able to fly a kite with me?”
“That’s right, David.”
“And you won’t take me fishing?”
“No, Buddy, I won’t.”
“Well,” David asked, “who’s going to do those things if you can’t?”
Grandpa responded, “David, hopefully when that time comes, it will be your turn to do all those things and more for another little boy.”
That is what Jesus taught his disciples in today’s Gospel. They had witnessed his teaching as related in the fifth through seventh chapters of Matthew. They had witnessed his power in the miracle stories of the eighth and ninth chapters of Matthew. Now, when the time comes, they, the disciples of the Lord, would have to do for others what was done for them. They would have to bring the compassion and forgiveness of God to the poor, the needy, the helpless and hopeless, the rejected and the abused. The would have to bring the Good News, the Gospel to others.
It is wonderful for me to witness the cycle of life here at St. Ignatius. It is wonderful to see so many of you being such determined parents when it was not all that long ago that you were right here in these pews as children and teens with needs. It is wonderful to see your determination to provide for the growth of the faith.
During the last sixteen years I have spend a lot of time mentoring our seminarians. There are a dozen members of the “Pellegrino Survivor’s Club,” priests who have spent their time here as seminarians or right after ordination. The great Fr. John Latondress did this for me when I first came here in 1979. I remember saying to him, truthfully, “I really don’t have a clue as to what I should do as a parish priest.” I had been trained by the Salesians of St. John Bosco to be a teacher, coach, etc. Fr. John took me under wing, and spent untold hours sharing his knowledge. So it is only natural and right that I should do this for the seminarians who have come through St. Ignatius.
It is also only natural and right for you to continue sharing the faith you received from your parents and mentors. There are a lot of David’s out there that need someone to tell them to distinguish right from wrong as others taught us to choose well. There are a lot of David’s who need someone to tell them that God is with them, as others taught us to treasure the presence of God. There are a lot of David’s out there who need someone to give them hope, as others have given us hope.
Back in the days of the Lord, the main means of communication was through speech. The written word existed, true, but paper was expensive. Most people learned through word of mouth, the words of traveling teachers or preachers.
Even in our day of emails and facebook and cell phones, nothing surpasses face to face, word of mouth in efficacy. Those of you in the world of sales know this. So do those of you who have children.
We have to talk to our children. We have to teach them about Jesus. We have to give then what we received.
We have to talk to our neighbors. We have to teach them the Hope of the Lord. We have to give them what we receive. On Pentecost Sunday our Director of Catholic Faith and Formation, Tom Hickey, asked us all to bring invitations to the faith to others. This our responsibility as Christians to spread the Gospel of Christ.
The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Why? Is it because we think others should do the work? Do we think that we are not good enough? Who is? Are we afraid to be apostles? We shouldn’t be. He called us with the Gospel and empowered us to spread the Gospel. The Power He gives us is the Holy Spirit.
Our faith is alive. Our faith is vital. Our faith is strong. It is dynamic. Today we pray for the courage to share this Gift of Faith with others.