There’s a great joke about the new pastor of a parish who is chatting with the outgoing pastor. The outgoing priest tells him, “I wrote three notes for you. Don’t open them until things get bad.” Months go by. The first problem and it’s with the finance committee. He opens the letter and it reads, “Just blame me. I can handle it. And I’m long gone.” So the priest reports that all the financial problems, it’s because of hte last priest. Second time is with the parish council. He opens the second letter: “Just blame the bishop. He’s got broad shoulders and can take it.” The parish council accepted this. Last time is with a big uprising in the church. Father opens the third letter: “Write three letters.”
Thought of that joke b/c so many of my priest friends have been getting new assignments lately. We have new priest neighbors in Rushville and Greensburg. Fortunately I’m staying here, but talking with them has given me pause to reflect on the many movings on in our lives. We are all called to move on….if not a physcial moving on, a spiritual one.
This is the theme of our readings.
In the first reading we see Amos. He was a simple man, a prophet called to call a big town to repentance. He goes to Bethel. But they don’t like what he has to say. They chew him up and spit him out. Get lost, says Azariah, the priest of Bethel. “Off with you,” he says. Get lost and take your message someplace else.
And Amos moves on.
In our Gospel Jesus, having given out the apostles’ first assignments, commissions them to go out. He tells them that not everyone will accept you, and he advises them to simply move on when they come to a place that doesn’t welcome them, when they find themselves in fire and tension and depression.
Is it not so with Jesus too? Jesus finds himself in his hometown, as we heard last Sunday, and the people elected not to listen to him. What does he do? He shakes the dust and moves on.
And that is our summons, too. When the difficult stuff happens, Jesus says, move on.
In our lives very often we find ourselves saddled with difficulties and problems that we never asked for, certainly never expected. Sometimes these have to do with our finances or our families, or our past relationships.
And yet the voice of the Lord encourages us to be moving on.
We all know what pain and heartache are, we know what loss is—loss of health, or money, or a job, maybe a reputation….we know what loss is, especially the greatest loss: we know what it is to experience someone we love, leaving. Sometimes even passing away.
And with that loss, there is the admonishment from Jesus to be moving on. Mourning is of course a part, but we move forward, we carry on.
In our lives we know what it is to have been wronged, we know the power and pain of resentments and disagreements and frustrations with decisions we don’t like.
And yet the Lord says: MOVE ON.
In our lives we can easily get wrapped up by our sins, our fears, our failings….But Move on the Lord says, Move on
How can it not be so? How can it not be necessary?
We have to move on. Why? Because that is what Jesus did. That is what our Lord did. Faced with trials and enemies he moved on. Plagued and embarrassed by having fallen on his way of the cross not just one time but three times, He moved on. When people ridiculed or renounced his message….Shake the dust from your feet. He moved on.
We know what it is to receive the same summons from the Lord. Keep on moving.
Keep moving. Why?
First of all, because if we don’t, we get stuck and we simply stew in whatever “it” is.
Second of all, St Paul tells us i our second reading today, because we have a purpose….a mission….chosen as St Paul says in our second reading….we were picked like the apostles and like Amos to fulfill a mission that God knew from before the foundation of the world.
Jesus could have made anybody. But he made YOU. He made ME.
And it wasn’t for naught. He knew what he was doing. We all have a purpose.
And fulfilling that purpose has to be what motivates us….not money or some joy or whatever….but fulfilling God’s purpose for our life. That must be our motivation.
And that’s a daily thing. A good practice is to ask dayil: Jesus, what is your purpose for me today? Maybe God has lots of purposes for us every day.
May we look at life that way. Amos came to do so, and so did the apostles. They kept on moving on towards the fulfillment of their purpose.
It’s a hard thing to do, to move on–whether physcially or emotionally or spiritually. It’s a hard thing to move, a hard thing to fulfill our purpose. But we can do it. Because we have the power of Christ alive in us. It’s the month of Precious Blood. We receive HIS blood into our veins at this Mass.
And with him we can move on. WE can fulfill our purpose.