Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep”(Luke 15:6).
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
God is in pursuit of each one of us. He knows we are lost and need to be found. Oh, you may tell me, “Bishop, I am a good person.” Yet, each, in our own way, is lost because we leave God by our sinfulness, by our wrong doings. These precise moments are the ones in which Jesus speaks. He reminds us that God knows each time we stray and calls us back to Him.
You might respond, “Well, how does God call us back to Him?”
God is ever present in each one of us and we are His ambassadors, as St. Paul reminds us. By our Baptism, we promised to share the Word of God with each other and to help each other to remain faithful. We are fed by the Eucharist — we receive Jesus to become His disciples to carry forth the mission of the Church to each person we meet. Throughout Scripture we hear that God has not abandoned us; but is with us until the end of time.
Twenty-one years ago, we recall the horrific destruction of terrorism on Sept. 11, the dishonor of the number “911” — the number we dial for aid, for assistance, and to signify in a profound occurrence, the tragedy of terrorism. For many, our immediate “911” was to pray to God, to ask for His generous mercy upon His people, upon our families, upon our country, upon our world. God did not abandon us; but through the goodness of many first responders, families, and friends and strangers throughout the world, sought us out that we might not stray from Him and assisted us to heal.
You are invited to join me Thursday, Sept. 29, when we will pray for our first responders during the Blue Mass to be celebrated at St. James Cathedral at 12:10 p.m.
More recently, we experienced a pandemic and its after-effects. Some of us may have been stiff-necked and became angry at God for the pandemic or decided that God was no longer needed. Again, God’s presence was made known through the many first responders and health care workers, and many others whose small and large kindnesses assisted us. For many, our immediate “911” was to pray to God.
Our leaving God or our sinfulness is not something that occurs every 20 years or only during catastrophes. For most of us, our leaving God is more imminent. Pope Francis spoke of God’s search for us, “We are all warned: mercy to sinners is the style with which God acts and to this mercy He is absolutely faithful: nothing and no one can distract Him from His saving Will. God does not share our current throw-away culture; it doesn’t count to God. God throws no one away; God loves everyone, looks for everyone: one by one! He doesn’t know what ‘throwing people away’ means, because He is entirely love, entirely mercy.”
As baptized Catholics, God does rely upon us to share the Good News. He implores us to help each other, to redirect each other toward Him. He invites us to invite others to return to Him or to know Him. Recently, Pope Francis spoke about the richness of the elderly because of their faithfulness. He called upon them, in the best of their abilities, to pray for all God’s people, those who are close to God and those who denied God; those who have chosen a secular living that they might return to God.
God promised Abraham that He would make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and would give them their perpetual heritage. We are the descendants of Abraham. God has given us our perpetual heritage through the gift of His only begotten Son by the transcendence of the Holy Spirit—He leaves us the Eucharist that we are never without God. From this beautiful Presence, we are compelled to go and be as Jesus to one another. May we be the ones to seek and find the lost and share the Bread from Heaven.