Aloha Friday Message – July 17, 2015 – The Rest of The Story

1529AFC071715 – The Rest of the Story

Read it online here, please. Use the links for a better view.

Excerpt from Mark 6:30-46 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Aloha pumehana, ʻŌmea. Here we are, back in our belovéd Kauaʽi. Our journey to the mainland in the state of New Mexico was, all-in-all, good. We visited with many, many friends and relatives, ate lots of the best food on the planet, and shared in hours of laughter, joy, reminiscences, and sight-seeing. Our stay in the Española Valley was terrific. The travel to and from – not so much. It was exhausting, uncomfortable, and in some ways even dehumanizing. We will definitely need to rest up for healing and restoration of full functionality of limbs and torsos. Perhaps at another time I can fill you in on the stuff we did, but you can also check it out on Facebook if you happen to have access to my wall there.

Perhaps some of you remember Paul Harvey, the extraordinary radio and television personality who told amazing behind-the-scenes stores about people and places. He was perhaps most famous for the ongoing series of reports called “The Rest of the Story.” That’s what we’re going to do today; we will look at “the rest of the story.” In recent posts, we’ve looked at passages from Mark 6. We reviewed Jesus’ rejection in his home town at Nazareth. We read about the sending of The Twelve to the villages in Galilee. We touched on the death of John the Baptizer. There was also the feeding of the 5,000. We studied Jesus calming the storm, but did not mention him walking on the water and saving Peter from drowning when his faith faltered. And we also reviewed the healings of the demoniacs at Genessaret. Today we’re going to look at the account of what happened after The Twelve came back from their first mission. They went out healing every disease, casting out demons, and sharing the Gospel. But let’s look at time when they reported back to Jesus all that they had seen and done. I want to show you how we can take that and apply it to our worship experiences.

In this passage, we have the stories of the loaves and fishes. That will be covered in next week’s Gospel from John. We’ll finish this look at Mark 6, which has several familiar Gospel scenes. I want to look at four key points and then compare that with what we do on Sunday. We see that Jesus told the disciples to [1] go to a place to rest and pray, [2] attend to teachings, [3] share a meal with others, and [4] go out to continue building the Kingdom. I want to give credit here to Marist Father Rev. Fr. Ralph Olek for a homily about this chapter back in July, 2012. The basic four-point outline is something I recorded in my homily notes. Fr. Ralph, I hope it’s OK to embellish a bit on what you laid out back then.

In many ways, we – the modern church – are like the crowds that surrounded Jesus as he taught. We attend to his teaching. We are a very diverse group who are of many nationalities and ethnicities. We range in age from infants to the elderly. There is wide economic variation. Some of us barely participate in worship, and some take active roles in various ministries. We come to church for many reasons. Some come to worship, some come to pray and present their petitions to God. Some come to serve God and his family. Some come to console or to be consoled. Some come to seek hope, others to share their hope. Some come out of a sense of duty, others come for political or social reasons. Some come willingly, others reluctantly, and still others come because they have no choice in the matter. For whatever reasons we have to come together at church, we are also varied feelings about being there.

We go away to a place of rest to compose our hearts and minds in God. Some of us feel convicted by our sin and wish to join in the sacraments to set our lives aright. Some of us feel the necessity of “being religious,” and some appreciate the fellowship with others whose religious aspirations and views match ours. Some of us feel the joy of friendships and some of us feel shunned by the hypocrites around us. Some of us believe we are better at complying with the practices of worship and praise – we recite, gesture, sing, listen, and nod appreciatively on cue – and some of us think that the people around us are superficial religious nuts who have no idea about the depth of faith in our own hearts. If we look at all of these traits of the people at church, we see that we are a microcosm of humanity very much like the crowds – including The Twelve and Jesus’ closest disciples – who were the foreshadowing of the Kingdom of God and The Church of today. In that sense, we recognize – or at the very least, we should suspect – that we are a work in progress. We are aware of our own imperfections (even if we don’t always fess up to them), and sometimes we are (regrettably) more acutely aware of the imperfections of others both in the assembly and outside in the World. For whatever reason we have for being in church, we come as we are even though we may not exhibit our true selves. Perhaps from time to time we pray or sing “Just As I am.” And sometimes, if we lift up our hearts and minds in prayer, we acknowledge our sins and repent, calling on our Lord and Savior to cleanse us from the things that keep us at the threshold of the Gates of Heaven as fully-participative citizens of the Kingdom of God. We may, on occasion, become so in tune with what God wants from his servants that we cry out “Here I am, Lord.” There, in church, we are inspired by the people, things, and actions around us to do as Jesus invites: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” In the tabernacle of our hearts, we go to that inner closet where only God sees the real person that we are. Once we have placed our attention in the presence of God, we are ready to take a meal together; we feast on the Word and The Presence of Christ.

In this meal, we are edified and nourished so that we can do our part in bringing the Kingdom of God to all Peoples and Nations. That is our primary responsibility in the World – to call all earthlings to repentance and to proclaim the Gospel so that they, too, will believe and receive the Salvation of our God. (See Psalm 98:3) As in the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Christ provides the sustenance we need, and – as his followers – we share that with others as we give and receive from one another. The lesson there is a powerful one: We participate in the sharing by passing on that which we have so that others will also have it. It is part of the way we work at building the Kingdom of God: We share the meal that comes from what we have by inviting others to come so we can share it with them as well. WE become what we eat, and all become the Body of Christ. That is the kerygma κήρυγμα (kérugma) {‘keh-rig-mah} – the Truth called the Good News, the Gospel we proclaim – we are one in the Lord. Because we are one, we are sent out into the world to increase the size of that one. To the World, that makes no sense. But if you can fire up your imagination for just a moment, think of the signs above the doors at your church. They say EXIT, but they are also and entrance. *

When we exit the church, we enter the World. The signs in the church above the door could say ENTRANCE. We “go in Peace to serve the Lord and each other.” We are sent at the end of every church service – Mass or otherwise – to take the peace from our visit with God, the teaching we received, and the energy from the nourishment of Word and Eucharist and to share all of that with the World. The purpose of that sharing is to take invitations to everyone who has not come into the Kingdom of God. We share what we have become when we feed on the Word and on the Christ. It is the rest of the story. We cherish the sacrament of nourishment so much that we cannot help but want to share it – if indeed we partake of it fully. What we share through our gifts to others and to the Church becomes the treasure laid up for us in Heaven. It is returned to us in full measure, shaken down, pressed together, and filled to overflowing. The measure of return is God’s measure, not ours, and his is always more generous. What he returns to us is always better than we can imagine, better than we deserve, and more than we can hold; it just flows out onto the people around us. No matter what trials we have, the blessings we receive make the trials seem more manageable by comparison.

When we experience these changes in our lives, the connections they produce are temporal, spiritual, and eternal Good; but, without these four actions in our lives – seclusion for prayer, meditation on teachings, feeding on the Word and the Christ, and going forth to share the Gospel – we decline a portion of the available Good. We in essence tell God, “I don’t want any more blessings.” It sounds silly, but earthlings are messy like that. We interrupt the flow of blessings so we can do what we think we should and avoid doing what God requires of us. And what does he require? He requires us to repent, to believe in the Gospel, and to share the Gospel to all the corners of the World. The best place to start that is to share it in every corner of our family, then every corner of our community, our locale, our Church, and our nation. From there it goes on to cover all humanity with the Goodness of the Lord. Sometimes this seems too formidable a task, and we despair and feel powerless to even spread the Gospel among family and friends. But God is El Shaddai, God Almighty, God All-Powerful. El Shaddai knows how to clean up the messes we make. He shows us we need to pray, learn, feed, and go because he takes our place in life and death so that we can be together with him – and each other – in the resurrection and eternally thereafter. There is no need to have a fear of evil or to feel any distress, for God is always with us. We can be calm in all situations when we fully rely on the Lord who made Heaven and Earth. His generous love is extraordinarily extravagant!

And THAT’S the rest of the story!

* This idea was generated by our long-time friend, Fr. Chuck Faso OFM. In a homily given some time ago, he suggested that a small sign could be mounted under each EXIT sign. The small sign would read “Service Entrance.” What a great idea!

ExtravagantLove

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) http://biblehub.com

 

SPECIAL PRAYER REQUESTS: Please remember in your prayers NH, the niece of AT who writes: She has cancer on her head (not brain) and lungs.  She is in her mid 50s and very determined to beat this thing.  She is currently in the hospital with no/little white blood cells from the chemo and radiation.  She can’t swallow so is down to 90 pounds.  Poor as a church mouse.  My heart goes out to her.  Prayers will help her.

Please remember NH this week, and include all the people you know about who are battling cancer or working to stay in remission. Ask God for his merciful Divine Intervention. Pray also for those who are working on or preparing for ending cancer.

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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