5th Sunday of Lent

Why are we here?  I don’t mean why are we here in this church, or why are we in Saint Louis, MO (or wherever you are) instead of some other place.  The question is “why are we HERE?”; why are we alive?  What is our purpose?  In the thousands of years of human existence there has never been another person exactly like you or exactly like me.  No matter how much longer life exists on this planet, there will never be another person exactly you or exactly like me.  Every person is unique.  Even identical twins are different individuals.  Every person has a reason for being.

 

Jesus knew why He was here.  He says, “I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say?  ‘Father save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.”  For the rest of us, it’s not necessarily that clear cut.

 

Jesus was the Son of God.  He could do lots of cool things.  He could walk on water.  He could change water into wine.  He healed the sick and raised the dead.  Most important, He knew why He was doing these things.  He knew why He was here.

 

But, you and I go through life not knowing exactly why we’re here.  I know some of you remember the old Baltimore Catechism.

Question:  Why did God make us?  Answer: God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

Question:  What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  Answer: To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.

 

Simple enough, but what does it mean?  It means something different to each one of us and some of us spend our entire earthly lives trying to figure it out.

 

When a priest or deacon is in formation we go through a time of discernment; a time of deciding if this is really what God calls us to do.  I have friends who are deacons who swear that God spoke to them and told them they were being called.  I wasn’t so blessed. Right up to the day or ordination I had doubts.  My tenth anniversary of ordination is coming up in a few weeks and I still have doubts.  “Is this really what God wants me to do?  Does He really want me to be a deacon?  Does He really want me to be in this place?”

 

Father Thomas Merton wrote a prayer about discernment that goes like this:

O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,


I do not see the road ahead of me,


I cannot know for certain where it will end.



Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.



But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.



I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.



Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.


In John’s Gospel a voice comes down from heaven.  Some of the people present heard it as thunder.  Some said an angel had spoken to them.  John doesn’t say this but it’s very possible that some of the people didn’t hear anything at all.  God speaks to each of us in the way that we need to hear Him.  Some of us need to be smacked up side of the head.  Some of us need to be led gently.  Some of us just don’t pay enough attention and God’s message never gets through to us at all.

 

So, how do we know what it is that God wants us to do.  Simple…PRAY.  I don’t mean the kind of prayer where we spend a few minutes telling God how to do His job.  You know, “Lord, give me this.  Lord, give me that.  God, make this happen.  Lord, give me a winning lottery ticket.  Lord, give me patience.  DO IT NOW!!”

 

Believe me, God knows how to do His job.  You wouldn’t talk to your best friend that way.  Why would you talk to God that way.  When you pray it shouldn’t be a monologue.  It should be a conversation.  You have one mouth and two ears.  When you pray, you should use your ears at least twice as much as you use your mouth.

 

Some of us may not want to listen to God because we’re afraid of what we might hear.  Even Jesus says, “I am troubled now.”  He knows what His Father wants Him to do.  He knows that He’s going to be tortured and killed in just a few days.  Of course, He’s troubled.  But He also knows that’s why He was sent.  “What should I say:  ‘Father, save me from this hour?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.’”

 

Isn’t that last part what our lives are really all about.  “Father, glorify your name”?   Isn’t that what the Baltimore Catechism meant? What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world, even though we may be troubled by what He asks us to do.  If even Jesus knew not to disobey His Father, who are we to question His will?

 

 

 

Why are we here?  I don’t mean why are we here in this church, or why are we in Saint Louis, MO (or wherever you are) instead of some other place.  The question is “why are we HERE?”; why are we alive?  What is our purpose?  In the thousands of years of human existence there has never been another person exactly like you or exactly like me.  No matter how much longer life exists on this planet, there will never be another person exactly you or exactly like me.  Every person is unique.  Even identical twins are different individuals.  Every person has a reason for being.

 

Jesus knew why He was here.  He says, “I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say?  ‘Father save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.”  For the rest of us, it’s not necessarily that clear cut.

 

Jesus was the Son of God.  He could do lots of cool things.  He could walk on water.  He could change water into wine.  He healed the sick and raised the dead.  Most important, He knew why He was doing these things.  He knew why He was here.

 

But, you and I go through life not knowing exactly why we’re here.  I know some of you remember the old Baltimore Catechism.

Question:  Why did God make us?  Answer: God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.

Question:  What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  Answer: To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.

 

Simple enough, but what does it mean?  It means something different to each one of us and some of us spend our entire earthly lives trying to figure it out.

 

When a priest or deacon is in formation we go through a time of discernment; a time of deciding if this is really what God calls us to do.  I have friends who are deacons who swear that God spoke to them and told them they were being called.  I wasn’t so blessed. Right up to the day or ordination I had doubts.  My tenth anniversary of ordination is coming up in a few weeks and I still have doubts.  “Is this really what God wants me to do?  Does He really want me to be a deacon?  Does He really want me to be in this place?”

 

Father Thomas Merton wrote a prayer about discernment that goes like this:

O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,


I do not see the road ahead of me,


I cannot know for certain where it will end.



Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.



But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.



I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.



Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.


In John’s Gospel a voice comes down from heaven.  Some of the people present heard it as thunder.  Some said an angel had spoken to them.  John doesn’t say this but it’s very possible that some of the people didn’t hear anything at all.  God speaks to each of us in the way that we need to hear Him.  Some of us need to be smacked up side of the head.  Some of us need to be led gently.  Some of us just don’t pay enough attention and God’s message never gets through to us at all.

 

So, how do we know what it is that God wants us to do.  Simple…PRAY.  I don’t mean the kind of prayer where we spend a few minutes telling God how to do His job.  You know, “Lord, give me this.  Lord, give me that.  God, make this happen.  Lord, give me a winning lottery ticket.  Lord, give me patience.  DO IT NOW!!”

 

Believe me, God knows how to do His job.  You wouldn’t talk to your best friend that way.  Why would you talk to God that way.  When you pray it shouldn’t be a monologue.  It should be a conversation.  You have one mouth and two ears.  When you pray, you should use your ears at least twice as much as you use your mouth.

 

Some of us may not want to listen to God because we’re afraid of what we might hear.  Even Jesus says, “I am troubled now.”  He knows what His Father wants Him to do.  He knows that He’s going to be tortured and killed in just a few days.  Of course, He’s troubled.  But He also knows that’s why He was sent.  “What should I say:  ‘Father, save me from this hour?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.’”

 

Isn’t that last part what our lives are really all about.  “Father, glorify your name”?   Isn’t that what the Baltimore Catechism meant? What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”  To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world, even though we may be troubled by what He asks us to do.  If even Jesus knew not to disobey His Father, who are we to question His will?

 

 

 

 

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