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สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

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2019-11-18 02:42

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3rd Sunday of the Year
Isaiah 8:23–9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10–14, 17; Matthew 4:12–23

Light in the night
If the light goes out in our life, Jesus can turn it on again, brighter than ever

Tourists were visiting the famous Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. While they were below ground in the giant cave,  the lights went out. Among those trapped in the darkness were two children: an eight-year-old boy and his five-year-old sister.

The situation was scary, especially for children. Suddenly
the little girl began to cry. Then her eight-year-old brother
was heard to say, Don’t worry, Amy. There’s a man up there
who knows how to turn the lights on again.
This story is a beautiful illustration of the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading. It is the same prophecy Matthew applies to the coming of Jesus in today’s gospel:

The people who live in darkness will see a great light.
On those who live in the dark land of death the light will shine.

Indeed, before the coming of Jesus, the world was dark and scary It was just like the Carlsbad Caverns after the lights went out.

The darkness was so great and so scary that many people began to cry. Into the midst of this terrifying situation
came the reassuring voice of Isaiah.
The prophet promised the people that a great light would soon appear to take away the darkness. And Isaiah’s promise reached fulfillment in the coming of Jesus.

Spiritual writers tell us that what happened to Israel as a nation happens to each one of us individually. In other words,
there are times in our lives when the lights go out and we are left in darkness, just as the people were living in darkness
before the coming of Jesus.

Or to use the image of the Carlsbad Caverns, there are times in our lives when the lights go out, leaving us standing in darkness like a frightened five-year-old.
At times like this we need to know that there is someone up there who knows how to turn the lights on again.

A good example of what we are talking about is Darryl Stingley. In the late 1970s he was sitting on top of the
pro football world as a wide receiver for the New England Patriots.

Then one August afternoon, in a preseason game, he was viciously hit by safety Jack Tatum of the Oakland Raiders.

Tatum’s bone-crushing smash left the 27-year-old athlete paralyzed from the chest down. Today he can use only one hand and gets around in an electric wheelchair.

The light went out for Darryl Stingley that August afternoon.
But Darryl never gave up. He knew there was someone up there who could turn the lights back on again. He believed
the prophecy of Isaiah:

The people who live in darkness will see a great light.
On those who live in the dark land of death the light will shine.

And when the light went on again for Darryl, it went on brighter than ever. Darryl is still confined to a wheelchair
and unable to walk, but he has a whole new vision of himself
and life.

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Darryl insisted that in some ways his life is better now than it was before.

I had tunnel vision, he said of his playing days with the Patriots. All I wanted was to be the best athlete I could,
and a lot of things were overlooked. Now I’ve come back
 to them.

Stingley was more explicit with a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He said that his tragedy had changed his life for
the better in a surprising new way:

This is a rebirth for me. Not only physically but spiritually. . . .
I really have a lot more meaning and purpose to live for now than ever before.

Those are incredible words from a young man whose dreams of football stardom lie dead and buried in an electric wheelchair.

But you hear the same kind of words from hundreds of other people who have gone through similar periods of darkness in their lives.

When the lights went on again for them, they went on brighter than ever.
And the same can be true for us.

The death of a life-long spouse, an unexpected rejection by
a loved one, a smashed dream of business success, the loss
of good health all of these things can throw our lives into temporary darkness.

But when a tragedy like this strikes us, we need only remember Isaiah’s prophecy:

The people who live in darkness will see a great light.
On those who live in the dark land of death the light will shine.

We need only remember the little boy in the cave, who told his frightened sister, Don’t worry, Amy. There’s a man up there
who knows how to turn the lights on again.

We need only remember the words of people like Darryl Stingley, who told a Chicago Tribune reporter:

This is a rebirth for me. . . . I really have a lot more meaning and purpose to live for now than ever before.

And when the lights go on again for us as they surely will
we will find that they will go on brighter than ever.

Let’s close with the verse of a popular hymn written by Cardinal Newman. It describes his search for the right way
to follow Jesus.

He wrote it as a young man, returning by sea from Italy to his native England.

While the boat was detained at Sicily, young Newman fell
ill and nearly died. During his convalescence he wrote the following lines:

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on; Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene, one step enough for me.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Series II
3rd Sunday of the Year
Isaiah 8:23–9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10–14, 17; Matthew 4:12–23

Babe Ruth
The sacrament of Reconciliation is an encounter with the mercy and peace of the Risen Christ.
Babe Ruth is one of the most colorful players baseball has ever known. He is also one of the most famous names in American sports.

One cold December night in 1946, the words of Jesus in today’s gospel “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near!” took on special meaning for
Babe Ruth. He explained why in an article in Guideposts magazine. He wrote:

[Even though] I drifted away from the church, I did have
 my own altar, a big window in my New York apartment
overlooking the city lights.
“Often I would kneel before that window and say my prayers.
I would feel quite humble then. I’d ask God to help me . . .
and pray that I’d measure up to what he expected of me.

On this cold December night, however, the Babe was lying in bed in a New York hospital, seriously ill. Paul Carey, one of the Babe’s oldest and closest friends, was at his side.

After a while Carey turned to Ruth and said, “Babe, they’re going to operate in the morning. Don’t you think you should see a priest?”

Ruth saw the concern in Carey’s eyes, and for the first time
in his life he realized that death could “strike him out.” The kingdom of God was, perhaps, at hand for him.

He knew he had to take seriously Jesus’ words: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near!”
Ruth looked into Carey’s eyes and said, “Yes, Paul! I’d appreciate your calling a priest.”

That night Babe Ruth spent a long time talking to Jesus with the priest’s help. When he finished, he had made a full and humble confession. He didn’t hold back on a thing.

After the priest gave Ruth absolution, he patted him on the hand and said softly, “Babe, I’ll be back in the morning
to give you Holy Communion. But you don’t have to fast.”

Back in the 1940s it was common practice for Catholics to fast from midnight when receiving Communion the next day.

The Babe smiled at the priest and said, “Father, I’ll fast anyway. I won’t even drink a drop of water.”
After the priest left, the Babe said: As I lay in bed that evening,
I thought to myself what a comfortable feeling to be free from fear and worries. I could simply turn them over to God.
Ruth’s experience of profound peace after receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation is a common experience among Catholics.

It’s a peace that must be experienced to be appreciated.
It’s a peace that comes only from the sacrament of peace.
It’s a peace that Jesus gave to the sacrament
when he instituted it on Easter Sunday night, saying to his Apostles:
“Peace be with you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:21–23

But the peace of the sacrament of Reconciliation comes at a price. And the price is a humble admission that we are, indeed, sinners who want to reform our lives.

Emilie Griffin was a New York advertising executive
when she felt herself drawn to Catholicism. In her book Turning, she describes her first reaction to the sacrament
of  Reconciliation. She writes:

[The] notion of confessing my sins was hateful to me. It was not a question of unwillingness to confess my sins before another human being; it was in fact an unwillingness to confess my sins at all. I could not admit myself to be a sinner.

[Yet] in some part of me I knew I was flawed . . . and I was profoundly ashamed.

When Emilie decided to become Catholic, therefore, she found herself confronted, for the first time, with admitting that she was a sinner. Finally, the hour came for her  to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation.

It was an experience she would never forget. Like Babe Ruth,
Emilie experienced a profound peace.  She experienced a spiritual freedom that made her want to jump and shout
for joy.

And to her surprise, she found that confessing her sins to a priest was not confessing to a priest at all. She says in her book:

I had begun to see [priests] . . . not as men but as Christ himself;
and I remembered with what tenderness he dealt with the tax collectors and the adulteress.

Ithink it’s right here that we find the answer to why
so many people experience deep peace in the sacrament
of Reconciliation.

It’s because they experience the sacrament for what it really is: an encounter with the merciful Jesus.

It’s an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so gently with the paralyzed man, saying, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 5:20

It’s an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so tenderly with the woman taken in adultery, saying,
“I do not condemn you either.” John 8:11

It’s an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so compassionately on the cross with his enemies, saying,
“Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Today’s gospel is an invitation to encounter the merciful Jesus in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

It’s an invitation to experience for ourselves the peace that filled the heart of Babe Ruth on that cold December night in 1946. It’s an invitation to experience for ourselves the peace that filled the heart of Emilie Griffin after her first confession.

Let’s close with a beautiful prayer that some people pray when they receive the sacrament of Reconciliation:

Father of mercy, like the prodigal son, I return to you and say:
“I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

Christ Jesus, Savior of the world, I pray with the repentant thief
to whom you promised Paradise: “Lord, remember me in your kingdom.”

Holy Spirit, fountain of love, I call on you with trust: “Purify my heart, and help me walk as a child of light.”

Series III
3rd Sunday of the Year
Isaiah 8:23–9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10–14, 17; Matthew 4:12–23
Conversion
Turning from sin to God.

J esus began to preach . . . “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17


The Chicago Tribune on March 8, 1997, carried an article
entitled “Flying in Jesus.”

It was about a rock star who made millions and built
an international reputation producing albums of morally distasteful songs.

One night, he surprised concert-goers at Chicago’s UIC pavilion, telling them he’d experienced a conversion. He said:

Some may think it’s a gimmick but I tell you, here stands a broken man. . . . I used to be flying in sin now I’m flying in Jesus.

The singer’s conversion was not something sudden, out of the blue. It had been developing ever since his mother’s death in 1993. It was this event that triggered  his gradual surrender
to Jesus.

Ayear later, the same Chicago Tribune carried another article on the singer a kind of follow-up to the first article.

This time the headline read: “Spreading his wings.” Alongside the article was a photo of  the singer. Underneath it was a caption saying that he’d been nominated for four Grammy awards.

In the article, the singer explained  that as a public figure
he knows that many eyes will be on him in the years ahead,
to see if his conversion “holds.”

He also knows that some people were expecting him to turn from popular secular music to gospel music.

But, he said, he was not so sure that’s what he was supposed to do. To help him make the right decision, he said he was seeking God’s guidance and that of his deceased mother.
He said:

I can remember everything that my mother has told me,
sort of like Mr.Miyagi and Daniel San [in the Karate Kid movie].

Daniel San was away from Mr.Miyagi, but he could always hear
his voice telling him what moves to make and what blows to strike.

The singer doesn’t know what his future holds. But he does know right now that nothing excites him more than hearing schoolchildren singing his hit song “I Believe I Can Fly”  at graduations and in churches.

Finally, he says that all the credit for whatever good he does now belongs not to himself, but to God: He concluded by saying:

I’m not afraid to say that God gave me my talent. . . . I’m not afraid to say that God kept me all my days and allowed me to write a song like “I Believe I Can Fly.”

I’m not afraid to say that I now know that God is number one
 in my life. At first I didn’t, but now I do. . . . As the song says,
“Once I was blind, but now I see.”
Superstar vocalist R. Kelly of the music group R & B

The singer’s remarkable conversion brings us to today’s Gospel. It describes Jesus saying to the people, “Turn away from your sins.”

This is exactly what the singer did. And it is what Jesus is inviting each one of us in this church to do. He is inviting
us to enter into a conversion process.

Almost every conversion process involves three important steps. The first step is the experience of dissatisfaction with our present life. It is sometimes referred to as the “zero” moment.

It is the desire to make a change for the better in my life, just as the singer did in his life. It also involves the realization that
I can’t do this on my own. I need God’s grace.

The second step in the process is sometimes referred to as the “surrender”moment. It is that moment when something happens to make me decide that I’m going to swallow my pride and ask God to take over my life.

The death of his mother was the event that made the singer decide to do this. In the language of theology, it was a “graced moment.”

The third step is an experience of God’s grace empowering me to do what I could never do alone just as the singer experienced this grace.

This moment is sometimes referred to as the “power”moment.
And so, by way of review, the “zero” moment is when I realize that I need help. The “surrender”moment is when I reach out to God for help. And the “power”moment is when
I experience God’s grace empowering me to do what I could never do alone.

This brings us to an application of all this to our lives.

The singer’s story and Jesus’ words, “Turn from your sins,” invite me to inventory my own current situation.

Do I desire a better relationship with Jesus, but feel powerless
to do anything about it? Do I desire a better relationship
with my family, but feel powerless to achieve it?

If my answer is yes, then I can take the next step. I can ask myself, “Am I ready to open my heart to God and to God’s grace, as the singer did?”

If my answer is yes, then I’m ready for the big question.
“What first step might I take to invite God into my life
and help me do what I could never do alone?”
Maybe it is simply to present myself for special healing
in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Maybe it is simply to begin tonight to make daily prayer
a part of my life.
Maybe it is to sit down and take a look at the needy around me, and ask myself: What concrete thing might I do to help people far less fortunate than I?
Let’s conclude with a verse from the popular hymn “Lead Kindly Light” by Cardinal John Newman.

It describes his search for the first step to take to invite God into his life and empower him to do what he could never do alone.

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on. Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene, one step enough for me.