Deacon Sil's Word For All “Daily Exorcisms”
FOURTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR (B) January 30, 2000
FIRST READING (Deuteronomy 18: 15-20
Moses spoke to the people, saying: "A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the Lord, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let us not again hear the voice of the Lord, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.' And the Lord said to me, 'This was well said, I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die."'
Refrain: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 1) Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. Let us greet him with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him. 2) Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides. 3) Oh, that today you would hear his voice: "Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works."
SECOND READING (1 Corinthians 7: 32-35)
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and is occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin -- indeed, any unmarried woman -- is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and is concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord.
[In the city of Capernaum,] Jesus entered the synagogue on the sabbath and began to teach. The people were spellbound by his teaching because he taught with authority and not like the scribes. There appeared in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit that shrieked: "What do you want of us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are -- the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him sharply: "Be quiet! Come out of the man!" At that the unclean spirit convulsed the man violently and with a loud shriek came out of him. All who looked on were amazed. They began to ask one another: "What does this mean? A completely new teaching in a spirit of authority! He gives orders to unclean spirits and they obey him!" From that point on his reputation spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Text from: Lectionary for Mass Volume I, Copyright © 1998, 1997, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; © 1997, 1981, 1969 International Commission on English in the Liturgy, Inc. (ICEL) All rights reserved. Used with permission of ICEL. (This resource is available at a discount through the .)]
As you just heard in today's gospel, our Lord performs an exorcism on a man possessed by a devil. I think when most of us hear the word "exorcism", we cannot help but recall the 1973 movie which made a star out of a young actress named Linda Blair and which ranks as the thirteenth top grossing film of all time. But for the Church, the word "exorcist" has a much broader meaning than just the title of a movie. At one time, it used to be the second of four minor orders which preceded ordination, along with acolyte, lector and porter. In the early Church, exorcisms were not confined to the clergy, but could be performed by the faithful with a simple prayer. The reason for this was that it provided proof of the power of Christ's grace and the inability of demons to resist it. One of the chief duties of exorcists was to take part in baptismal exorcisms. The reason for this use of exorcisms in baptism is the belief that the devil has greater power over the unbaptized than over the baptized because of original sin. So exorcisms were performed repeatedly over the catechumens in preparation for baptism, and are still a part of our baptismal rite to this day. Over time and as conditions changed in the Church, the office of exorcist ceased altogether and their duties were taken over by clerics in major orders. And according to the present discipline of the Catholic Church, it is only priests who are authorized to use the exorcising power conferred by ordination. It is interesting to note that one of the instructions of the Roman Ritual advises the priest who performs an exorcism to be "a holy man, of a blameless life, intelligent, courageous, humble, and who should prepare for the exorcism by special acts of devotion and mortification, particularly by prayer and fasting (Mt. 17:20)." (1) If you have seen the movie, you may recall that the priest who performs the exorcism was questioning his faith at the time and felt unworthy to perform it. Now you may be of the opinion that exorcisms only happened in earlier times in human history when the powers of evil seemed particularly strong or in the movies. However, what you may not realize about the movie "The Exorcist" is that it was supposedly based on material kept in a diary by a priest who performed an exorcism on a 13 year-old boy from the Washington, DC area in 1949. The story surfaced when a minister discussed his involvement in the incident. He reported that while the boy was sleeping nearby, he heard vibrating sounds from his bed and scratching sounds on the wall. During the rest of the night, he allegedly witnessed some strange events--a heavy armchair in which the boy sat seemingly tilted on its own and tipped over, and a pallet of blankets on which the sleeping boy lay inexplicably moved around the room. Some accounts reported that at other times, the boy would recite a stream of blasphemous curses intermingled with Latin phrases. (2) So exorcisms can happen even in our own day. Of course, events like those reported in this incident are rare. However, exorcisms of demons happen on a much less dramatic level every day. Consider the following story.
I lay on the floor, furiously kicking my legs and screaming until my throat felt raw--all because my foster mother had asked me to put my toys away. "I hate you," I shrieked. I was six years old and didn't understand why I felt so angry all the time.
I'd been living in foster care since I was two. My real mom couldn't give my five sisters and me the care we needed. Since we didn't have a dad or anyone else to care for us, we were put in different foster homes. I felt lonely and confused. I didn't know how to tell people that I hurt inside. Throwing a tantrum was the only way I knew to express my feelings.
Because I acted up, eventually my current foster mom sent me back to the adoption agency, just as the mom before had. I thought I was the most unlovable girl in the world.
Then I met Kate McCann. I was seven by that time and living with my third foster family when she came to visit. That day, Kate took me to a pumpkin farm. We had fun, but I didn't think I'd see her again. A few days later, a social worker came to the house to say that Kate wanted to adopt me. Then she asked me if I'd mind living with one parent instead of two. "All I want is someone who loves me," I said.
Kate visited the next day. She explained that it would take a year for the adoption to be finalized, but I could move in with her soon. I was excited but afraid, too. Kate and I were total strangers. I wondered if she'd change her mind once she got to know me.
Kate sensed my fear. "I know you've been hurt," she said, hugging me. "I know you're scared. But I promise I'll never send you away. We're a family now." To my surprise, her eyes were filled with tears. Suddenly I realized that she was as lonely as I was! "Okay... Mom, "I said.
Eventually, I moved in with her. We did lots of great things together and every day, she told me she loved me. But love wasn't enough to heal the hurt inside me. I kept waiting for her to change her mind. I thought, "If I act bad enough, she'll leave me like the others."
So I tried to hurt her before she could hurt me. I picked fights over little things and threw tantrums when I didn't get my way. I slammed doors. If Mom tried to stop me, I'd hit her. But she never lost patience. She'd hug me and say she loved me anyway.
Because I was failing in school when I came to live with her, Mom was very strict about my homework. One day when I was watching TV, she came in and turned it off.
"You can watch it after you finish your homework," she said. I blew up. I picked up my books and threw them across the room. "I hate you and I don't want to live here anymore!" I screamed.
I waited for her to tell me to start packing. When she didn't, I asked, "Aren't you going to send me back?"
"I don't like the way you're behaving," she said, "but I'll never send you back. We're a family, and families don't give up on each other."
Then it hit me. This mom was different; she wasn't going to get rid of me. She really did love me. And I realized I loved her, too.
In 1985, when Mom formally adopted me, we celebrated at a restaurant. It felt good belonging to someone. But I was still scared. Could a mom really love me forever? My tantrums didn't disappear immediately, but as months passed, they happened less often.
Today I'm 16. I have a 3.4 grade point average, a horse named Dagger's Point, four cats, a dog, six doves and a bullfrog that lives in our backyard pond. And I have a dream: I want to be a veterinarian.
Mom and I like to do things together, like shopping and horseback riding. We smile when people say how much we look alike. They don't believe she's not my real mom.
I'm happier now than I ever imagined I could be. When I'm older, I'd like to get married and have kids, but if that doesn't work out, I'll adopt like Mom did. I'll pick a scared and lonely kid and then never, ever give up on her. I'm so glad Mom didn't give up on me. (3)
I think you will agree that some of the antics of this young girl were similar to those of someone possessed. But that is the whole point: the girl in our story was possessed by the feeling that she was unloved. And it was only when Kate came into her life that that feeling was eliminated. And notice the effect that Kate's love had on her: she wanted to do the same thing for someone else. Just as abuse tends to be perpetuated in future generations, so are acts of kindness and love. As we just remembered last month at Christmas, Christ came into the world to show us the Father's love for us, for all of us who at times are so much like the young girl in the story. We throw tantrums and get angry with God when life gets tough. But as we will find out beyond a doubt on Good Friday, God loved us enough to send his only Son to suffer and die so that we would know not only that he loves us, but the boundless extent of his love for us. In the gospel passages of the last two weeks, we heard how Christ called his first disciples. If we have accepted the call of Christ to follow him, just as those first disciples did, then we must follow the example that he has given us and help to exorcize the demons in the lives of others through our self-sacrificing love. Our actions may not become the stuff that movies are made of, but you can be assured that they will be recorded....in heaven.
1. from the Catholic Encyclopedia web site at . 2. from The Haunted Boy of Cottage City at . Copyright 1999 by Strange Magazine. 3. She Didn't Give Up On Me, as told to, and copyright 1994 by, Sharon Whitley. Excerpted from Woman's World Magazine. Reprinted with the author's permission from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, pp. 67-70, copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Kimberly Kirberger. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. (This resource, as well as many others including a specially-priced package of the Chicken Soup books, is available at a discount through the .) (Copyright January 14, 2000 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at .)
Lord Jesus, you came to expel the demons in our lives. Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you came to show us the Father's love for us. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you call us to help expel the demons in the lives of others through our love. Lord, have mercy.
Celebrant: Christ became one like us to empower us to overcome the demons that threaten us. In his name, we confidently bring our prayers and petitions to the Father. Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer." That the bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders of the Church will live lives worthy of their calling, we pray to the Lord. That the leaders of the nations of the world will do all in their power to eliminate injustice in their midst, we pray to the Lord. That the sick, the terminally ill and those who are grieving the loss of a loved one will use their faith to ward off the demon of despair, we pray to the Lord. That the Lord will bless and strengthen all those who have dedicated themselves to a life of celibacy, we pray to the Lord. That the Holy Spirit may lead additional members of our parish family to participate in the Renew 2000 Small Christian Communities during the upcoming season, we pray to the Lord. For all of the intentions which we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord. Celebrant: Merciful God, you gave your Son all power in heaven and on earth. Grant us the grace of your Spirit, which was conferred on all of us at our baptisms, to triumph over the world with all of its temptations and the devil in all of his cunning. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) January 6, 2000 First Reading (Job 7: 1-4, 6-7)
Job spoke, saying: Is not man's life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of a hireling? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been told off for me. If in bed I say, "When shall I arise?" then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 147: 1-6)
Refrain: Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted. 1) Praise the Lord, for he is good; sing praise to our God, for he is gracious; It is fitting to praise him. The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; the dispersed of Israel he gathers. (Refrain) 2) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each one by name. (Refrain) 3) Great is our Lord and mighty in power; to his wisdom there is no limit. The Lord sustains the lowly; the wicked he casts to the ground. (Refrain)
Second Reading (1 Corinthians 9: 16-19, 22-23)
Preaching the gospel is not the subject of a boast; I am under compulsion and have no choice. I am ruined if I do not preach it! If I do it willingly, I have my recompense; if unwillingly, I am nonetheless entrusted with a charge. And this recompense of mine? It is simply this, that when preaching I offer the gospel free of charge and do not make full use of the authority the gospel gives me. Although I am not bound to anyone, I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became a weak person with a view to winning the weak. I have made myself all things to all people in order to save at least some of them. In fact, I do all that I do for the sake of the gospel in the hope of having a share in its blessings.
Gospel (Mark 1: 29-39)
Upon leaving the synagogue, Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and the first thing they did was to tell him about her. He went over to her and grasped her hand and helped her up, and the fever left her. She immediately began to wait on them. After sunset, as evening drew on, they brought him all who were ill and those possessed by demons. Before long, the whole town was gathered outside the door. Those whom he cured, who were variously afflicted, were many, and so were the demons he expelled. But he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. Rising early the next morning, he went off to a lonely place in the desert; there he was absorbed in prayer. Simon and his companions managed to track him down; and when they found him, they told him, "Everybody is looking for you!" He said to them: "Let us move on to the neighboring villages so that I may proclaim the good news there also. That is what I have come to do." So he went into their synagogues preaching the good news and expelling demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Secretary to St. Peter: The Gospel of Mark, by Dr. Donald Strobe, pp. 28-33. Seven Worlds Corp., Knoxville, Tn. (See "Jesus Came Preaching", Mark 1: 14-22.) The Gospel of Mark, by William Barclay, pp. 36-42. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA, 1975. The Letters to the Corinthians, by William Barclay, pp. 81-84. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA, 1975. More Telling Stories, by William J. Bausch, pp. 89-93. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT 1993. Days of the Lord, Volume 5, pp. 43-51. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1993. The Cultural World of Jesus, by John J. Pilch, pp. 31-33. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1996. Bringing the Word to Life, by Michael R. Kent, pp. 69-70. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT, 1996. The Word Encountered, by John F. Kavanaugh, pp. 22-25. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1996. Mark, by Wilfrid Harrington, pp. 19-22. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Mn. 1979.
The Left Hand of God (being God's instrument to others)
Words as actions (see Secretary, p. 28). "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe." (1 Corinthians). The ancient Greeks had a saying: "By words alone are the lives of mortals swayed." Sweazey writes: "the talkers are the doers, if what they talk about is important. The greatest doer of all was called the 'Word', and words that start with him have changed men and nations...If what a preacher says can alter even slightly the direction in which people are aimed when they leave the church, the effect can be beyond all calculation." Preachers labor to make the lives of their hearers worth living. Actions are important, but words can motivate action. We should be continually amazed at the ways in which God sometimes uses our poor, frail, human words to communicate His word to the world...The real business of preaching is...the transformation of a person. Its goal is to bring about a change in human lives. It is suppose to inspire, motivate, persuade and move...We can be grateful if just a few words catch hold of someone's imagination and turn them to God (which is what the approaching season of Lent is all about: turning back to God). In the movie "Oh, God!", the grocery store manager who is played by John Denver, asks God who is played by George Burns what good coming among people and talking to them might do. God replies, "You never know...a seed here, a seed there, something will take hold and grow." The Nazi movement in Germany was built by preaching of a kind. Most of the great movements that have changed history have been fueled by preaching.
See Good News homily model for other ideas on the gospel (ministry and prayer).
Paul speaks of hoping for a share in the blessing of the gospel he proclaims. If we who are preachers truly prepare the word we preach, it will bring its blessing; we can spend many hours reflecting on texts that suddenly become luminous for us. We know them, as the saying goes, by heart. In the heart.
It's the same for musicians: they have a constant urge to move on. To stay put is to die, because if overused, everything becomes dull and boring. But each piece becomes infused with new appreciation as we move on and incorporate other things in our repertoire.
In Barclay's commentary on Corinthians, he says that this passage contains an outline of Paul's whole conception of ministry:
1) that it is a privilege;
2) that it is a duty;
3) that it produced a daily great reward; and,
4) that it should enable one to get "alongside of" another person.
Under item 3, he says: "To have mended one shattered life, to have restored one wanderer to the right way, to have healed one broken heart, to have brought one soul to Christ is not a thing whose reward can be measured in financial terms, but its joy is beyond all measurement." As for #4, he says: "Those who can never see anything but their own point of view and who never make any attempt to understand the mind and heart of others, will never make a pastor or an evangelist or even a friend...We can never attain to any kind of evangelism or friendship without speaking the same language and thinking the same thoughts as the other person." (I. e., walk a mile in their moccasins.)
Whenever I play music at liturgies, I often feel as if I am preaching through the lyrics of the songs we sing. It is that feeling which first led me to the diaconate, namely the desire to see what I could do with a particular reading or gospel in a homily. As an organist or guitarist, I feel like God's "instrument", that he was working through my talents to touch the hearts of the congregation.
Homily A Life of Service
If we could sum up today's gospel reading in one word, it would be service. Mark tells us in today's gospel reading that when Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, she immediately (Mark's favorite word) got up and served her guests. Our Lord too was never content being in one place but moved on so that he could proclaim the good news elsewhere. He never sent people away, but welcomed them, even if he was exhausted and would have preferred to be alone. How many of us can say we act in that way? If someone were to come to us and say "Where have you been? Everyone has been looking for you", would we have responded as Christ did? Or would we have answered rather impatiently that we wanted to be alone and not be bothered by anyone right now.
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea. "Hello," she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. "I'm building," she said. "I see that. What is it?" I asked, not caring. "Oh, I don't know. I just like the feel of the sand." That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. "That's a joy," the child said. "It's what?" "It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy." The bird went glissading down the beach. "Good-bye, joy," I muttered to myself, "hello, pain," and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance. "What's your name?" She wouldn't give up. "Ruth," I answered. "I'm Ruth Peterson." "Mine's Windy." It sounded like Windy. "And I'm six." "Hi, Windy." She giggled. "You're funny," she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me. "Come again, Mrs. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day." The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. "I need a sandpiper," I said to myself, gathering up my coat. The never-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared. "Hello, Mrs. P," she said. "Do you want to play?" "What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance. "I don't know. You say." "How about charades?" I asked sarcastically. The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is." "Then let's just walk." Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. "Where do you live?" I asked. "Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter. "Where do you go to school?" "I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation." She chattered little-girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Windy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed. Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Windy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home. "Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Windy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today." She seemed unusually pale and out of breath. "Why?" she asked. I turned on her and shouted, "Because my mother died!"-and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child? "Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day." "Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and-oh, go away!" "Did it hurt?" "Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself. "When she died?" "Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off. A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door. "Hello," I said. "I'm Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was." "Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in." "Wendy talked of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies." "Not at all-she's a delightful child," I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. "Where is she?" "Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you." Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught. "She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks she declined rapidly...." Her voice faltered. "She left something for you...if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?" I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything to say to this lovely young woman. Finally, she returned and handed me a smeared envelope, with "Mrs. P" printed in bold, childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues - a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY. Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," I muttered over and over, and we wept together. The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words - one for each year of her life - that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand - a child who taught me the gift of love. (1)
In Matthew, Jesus states that "the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many". Who can forget the picture of Jesus taking a towel and washing the feet of his creatures, a picture we will consider in more depth in just a few weeks on Holy Thursday? Christ took on our human flesh not to prove how powerful God is, but to demonstrate the depth of God's love for us. He did not come in power, but in humility and simplicity. He loved his own creatures with a love that knew no bounds. And all he asks of us is to love our equals in this world, not his creatures, as he did. Christ came as one who serves, a servant. That is a word that is near and dear to my heart because in Greek the word for servant is diakonos, or deacon. So deacons are servants in a special way. I've only been ordained for a few years now, but already I have been changed by the special ministries that deacons perform. In that time, I have been privileged to baptize many children, and have been blown away by being such an integral part of this sacrament for their families. I have also officiated at several weddings, and they have also been wonderful experiences. And what I have probably enjoyed more than anything else is being able to share what the Word of God has meant in my life with others. And that's what Mark says that Jesus did: he preached the good news. And the second reading in today's liturgy from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians also talks about preaching. Paul says "I am under compulsion and have no choice. I am ruined if I do not preach it!" I have succumbed to the sin of pride during my life, but with preaching, I can safely say that I have never been so tempted. And that is because I am fully aware that the message I deliver is not mine but that of the Spirit working through me. I have lost track of the number of times that I have been blown away by a thought while I have been reflecting on a passage of Scripture. And I know that it didn't come from me because I know I had never thought of it before. So it has to be the Spirit and the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders which is at work in me. I get so excited about the revelation, for that is what it is, that I can't wait to share it with you. Suffice it to say this: when I preach, I feel like God's instrument to others. All I can do is thank God that he has seen fit to grant me these gifts which I can, in some way, return to him. And that is my message to you this morning: you are not deacons, but you are God's instruments nonetheless, with your own gifts and talents to use in your own ordinary daily lives. You preach the good news, just as Jesus did, through your love for one another. You too can be servants and imitators of Christ just by letting him into your lives and then sharing him with others. Be grateful that God has chosen you to be his messengers, his angels, his bringers of good news, to the world. And remember to share some time with family and friends. Don't push them away, like the author of our story did with Wendy. Christ always had time for others. And if that is the example that Christ has given to us, he would be pleased if we followed it.
1. A Sandpiper To Bring You Joy, by Mary Sherman Hilbert. Copyright 1979 by the Reader's Digest Association, Inc. from the June 1980 issue. Reprinted with permission from A Third Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, pp. 8-11. Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. (Copyright January 26, 1999 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at .)
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) January 6, 2000 Penitential Rite
Lord Jesus, you came as one who serves. Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you came to proclaim the good news of salvation. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you call us to be servants of one another and to proclaim the good news with our lives. Lord, have mercy.
Rite of Dismissal
The Mass is ended. Go in peace as servants of Christ to proclaim the good news of God's love.
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) January 6, 2000 Prayers of the Faithful
Celebrant: When our Lord walked among us, he always answered the prayers of those who cried out to him in their need. Therefore, confident that he will hear us in our need, we bring our prayers and petitions before him. Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer." That all preachers of the Word of God will faithfully practice what they preach, we pray to the Lord. That the leaders of the nations of the world will come to serve all those entrusted to their care, we pray to the Lord. That the sick, the terminally ill and those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, will come to know the love of God for them through our caring concern, we pray to the Lord. That the members of our parish community will follow the example of Christ by putting aside their own concerns to care for the needs of others, we pray to the Lord. That the Holy Spirit may lead additional members of our parish family to participate in the Renew 2000 Small Christian Communities during the upcoming season, we pray to the Lord. For all of the intentions which we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord. Celebrant: Loving Father, you sent your Son to show us the depth of your love for us through his life of selfless service. Grant us the grace of your Spirit so that we may faithfully imitate his example, and love and serve others without counting the cost. We ask this through Christ, our Lord