Once upon a time, Arnold reaches the age of 105 and suddenly stops going to Church. Worried by Arnold’s absence after so many years of faithful attendance, his Priest goes to see him. He finds him in excellent health. So the Priest asks, “How come after all these years we don’t see you at Mass anymore?” Arnold looks around and lowers his voice. “I’ll tell you, Father,” he whispers. “When I got to be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then 100, then 105. So I figure that God is very busy and must have forgotten about me. I don’t want to remind him.”
Here’s our reminder today: Christ sorely needs us.
In the words of St. Paul, we “are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” God places us parts, each one of us, in the body as he intends. Among us are apostles: some of go out and spread the Gospel. Some of us are prophets: we preach the Truth. Some of us are teachers: we share our knowledge of the kingdom. Some of us heal people. Some of us assist and administrate. Some of us perform mighty deeds. Some of us can speak other peoples’ languages. If one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. If one of us suffers, we all suffer. If there is one thing that Vatican II insisted on it is this: that God calls each and every one of us to holiness.
Now while we are different parts of the Body of Christ, there is one task we must do together. We must always preach the Gospel in good times, and in bad times. For example, in a very difficult time rebuilding Jerusalem, Ezra the priest proclaims the Law of Moses. He reads the Torah aloud; the people are astonished. Forgetting their own scriptures, the people rediscover the Word of the Lord.
Christ sorely needs you and me to help others rediscover God in their lives. But we must take warning also. St. Luke tells us that Jesus proclaims the Messianic text from Isaiah. He does this in his own hometown of Nazareth. In the synagogue, he tells his townsfolk that he fulfills the prophecy in their hearing. God anoints him to preach Good News and to announce God’s favor. At first, the Nazarenes speak well of him. They are proud of their Rabbi Preacher Hometown Boy. He works miracles for the Gentiles. Everyone in town knows about his fame and how the countryside talks about him. But when Jesus is unable to work miracles in Nazareth, things go wrong. And this Gospel today? It’s not how the home visit ends. Things take a horrible turn next Sunday.
Just remember this today- no matter what part we play in the Body of Christ, we may be 90, 95, 100 or 105. No matter what age, Christ sorely needs us.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.