Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Hearts of Apostles

I believe that God speaks to us through the Mass.

In every Celebration of the Eucharist, there is some message being proclaimed to us. Might be in the Gospel. Might be in a song. Might be in a homily or Mass part or just a thought that comes to us in prayer. 

Of all of the Gospel readings that there could have been for your Graduation Mass, you had this one. For some reason God intended for you to hear it. But, I believe that God also intends for you to hear this message, too. 

Jesus tells of the trials we will face as His disciples:

"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.

Can somebody say, huh?

Some of you have just spent the past 10 years at a school whose mission says that it keeps with the tradition of inspiring "disciples of Christ".

Why? If we know that a result of following Christ is that we will have to bear our cross and travel up to our own Calvary, why on earth we would follow Him? 

In this, the liturgical season of Easter, we hear of the story of the first apostles. We hear of the miracles performed in Christ's name by Peter and Paul. We hear of miraculous escapes from prison. We hear about how thousands of people came into the faith as a result of the witness of the apostles. We hear about them being led by the Spirit to give their lives for their faith, in the same way that their Teacher, Jesus Christ, did.  

Those that witnessed the Resurrection lived lives so courageous, so on fire for this faith, that they would still be willing to call themselves Christians after seeing the end of the one called the Christ and knowing that it could be their end, too.   

As St. Julie Billiart states, 
There must be nothing little about us; we must have hearts of apostles.

Because even though Jesus warns us of the difficulty of a life devoted to Him, He also tells us that He came so that we may have joy and that this joy may be complete. He tells us that if we follow Him we can do the things that He did and even great things than those. 

And to me, that's the type of life I want to live. A life of passion, purpose and possibility. That's the type of life that's filled with adventure. 

It's the stuff of heroes

But, I know what you're thinking. You don't have the heart of an apostle. Those stories and that kind of faith is for someone else - not you. 

That you haven't been given the keys to the kingdom. 

Jesus hasn't blinded you by knocking you off of your horse. 

He hasn't changed your name. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated, 
The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.

ICS Class of 2017, you were not made to walk gingerly through this life, passive and afraid, on the safety of the shore. You were made to walk tall with purposeful steps and push out into the deep waters and leave a footprint on this world that will echo through eternity. 

You were made for greatness, holiness, sainthood. You are a diamond - strong and pure - that is meant to reflect God's glory for all to see. 

Let there be nothing little about you. You do not honor our God by playing small. 

You were created on purpose for excellence. 

Jesus has given you the keys to the Kingdom. You're here, graduating from a Catholic elementary school. You have been given the opportunity to learn about Him and His teachings. You've been invited to His table. You were created in the same fashion as Peter - on purpose and for excellence. Jesus's plan for your lives is no less heroic than Peter or any of the saints. 

He is building His Church upon you. You are a Rock - solid and firm. 

Jesus has knocked you off of your horse. In some cases you've fallen far and hard. In others, the fall has been softer, more subtle, but not any less impactful. Jesus is molding you into a beautiful home. And, He's not just an interior decorator. He's knocking down walls. He's building 2nd, 3rd, and 14th floors. He's making you into something majestic. He's re-constructing you into a palace. And, friends, He plans to live there. 

He's building you into His Church. You are a Cathedral - beautiful and inspiring. 

Jesus has changed your name. He has chosen you. For those of you that have been confirmed, He has given you a new name. He has given you a purpose. He has placed upon your heart a passion. He has given you the hope of possibility. He has spoken to you. In some cases it's been a whisper, in other's Jesus has used a conversational tone. For a few, He's shouted! He's stirring into flame the spark that you received at baptism. He is kindling the embers within your heart until it is on fire for Him!

He's building you. You are His - His beloved child. 

Royal blood courses through your veins and is pumped by your heart - the heart of an apostle. 

Let there be nothing little about you. You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. Greatness isn't mediocre and it doesn't come easily. But that's okay, because and you can and must do hard things. You are made from eternal stock. There is a depth and resolve to your Spirit. Grit your teeth, dig in your heels. Grab your hard hat and your lunch pail and get to work! Go! Run to do the work that God has set out before you and do it with everything that is within you. 

ICS Class of 2017, you were created on purpose for excellence. 

You have a part to play. 

He's called you by name. 

He's given you purpose. He's filled your heart with passion. He's given you the hope of possibility. 

And while Jesus tells us that the world will hate us because of our love for Him, He also tells us, "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."

You follow a God who has conquered sin and death. You believe in a Lord who offers unfailing life. You know that even though it may be Friday that Sunday's coming! 

ICS Class of 2017, follow in His footsteps so that, like the apostles and all of the holy men and women who have gone before you, you can leave your footprint on this world. Let there be nothing little about you. You were made for greatness. You have the hearts of apostles. 

*Graduation address to the ICS Class of 2017. Congratulations, Class of 2017!