Did you hear about the preacher named Tweedle? He was so well-read about the Bible that his Alma Mater wanted to award him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree? He refused the Doctor of Divinity degree. Here is why in this poem:
There was a fine preacher named Tweedle,
Who refused a Doctor of Divinity degree.
He said, “It’s tough enough being called Tweedle,
Without being called Tweedle, D. D.”
I want to say a word about the recent terrorist attacks.
This year we’ve had a number of lone gunmen go berserk and kill or injure people. It’s always tragic.
I think we need to remember that on any given day, one hundred and forty-eight million parents wake up, get their children dressed and fed and sent them off to school, hopefully with a hug and a kiss. One hundred and forty-eight million parents just doing their job, day in and day out, out of love.
On a given day, three million teachers, get up and go off to schools and take on the task of teaching our children. They do this day after day, year after year, dedicated to the young.
Each week one million doctors and three million nurses are off to offices, hospitals, clinics, going about their task of healing the sick. They do this day after day, year after years, often with great sacrifice.
Each week 670,000 police personnel and over a million fire personnel go off to work, taking on the challenges of safety and security for our society. They do this with great dedication, often risking their lives.
On any given day, 35,000 priests are off to church to celebrate Mass, funerals, weddings, or visit the sick, counsel, teach. They do this because God loves his people through them.
We could go on and on. The newspapers cannot report all this good news. There wouldn’t be enough room. But it is good to remember, amongst all the bad news, there is an immense amount of good going on everyday. Let us be grateful that goodness and love are the norm.
How many of you like to go to movies? What do you think is the sound in movies that triggers the most emotion?
I read that a group of motion-picture engineers classified the most dramatic sounds in the movies. Among them was a baby's first cry; the blast of a siren; the galloping of horses; the sound of a distant train whistle. But there was one sound that topped them all, causing more emotional response and upheaval than any other, for some, sadness and for others joy. That is the sound of the wedding march!
The Wedding March is a secular song. So now in Catholic weddings we often use more religious music.
But the wedding march and music like it alerts us that something important is about to happen. That something important is commitment.
Marriage and Baptism are two different sacraments. But they have something in common, and that is “commitment.” In marriage husband chooses wife and wife chooses husband. They commit themselves to each other, bind themselves and dedicate themselves to each other in an unbreakable union of love. In baptism God chooses us and we choose God. We commit ourselves to God and God commits to us. There begins a bond, a covenant, an unbreakable union of love.
This thought ties in to today’s gospel. Jesus uses strong words. He’s not asking for hate anyone, but to give him total commitment. He means that we are to let nothing come between us and God, not even our family or friends.
Then at the end of the gospel he says, “anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” Again, he is asking for total commitment. Now some people may think, “Well, I’m poor. I don’t possess much, so that won’t be difficult.”
But the Lord had more in mind than just being free of material possessions. If you are in possession of anger, get rid of it. If you are in possession of fear, get rid of it. If you are in possession of prejudice, get rid of it. If you are in possession of unforgiveness, renounce it. Renounce all possessions that get in the way. All that stuff will weigh you down when you try to follow Jesus.
Some of you may recall the famous football player of the 1960’s named Gale Sayers, who played for the Chicago Bears He ranks among the greatest running backs in professional football. Around his neck he always wore a gold medal about the size of a half-dollar. On it was inscribed three words. “I am third”. These three words became the title of his best-selling autobiography.
If you were to ask him what those words meant, he would tell you, “The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.” In his autobiography, Gale Sayers said, “I try to live by the saying on my medal. I don’t always succeed, but having the saying around my neck keeps me from straying from it too far.”
When we give ourselves to the Lord, he wants us to give everything, our hearts and our souls, our minds and our will, our strengths and accomplishments. He wants our faults and failings. He wants even our sins that he may wipe them away. He wants nothing to get in the way of complete union with him.
A husband and wife often have a song, a favorite love song. For the baptized, the Holy Mass is always “our song” with God. To participate here means we commit ourselves once again to God and God gives himself once again to us. Together we can make beautiful music and help our weary world smile.
Come, let us give thanks.