06/14/2018 - "NO BYSTANDERS!"


Last week, I shared with you from our mission how a simple farmer going forth, leaving his comfort zone to share a WORD OF HOPE from the LORD, not only healed a man from alcoholism, but also brought salvation to an entire family. Before sharing with you another example of a person going forth and having a real life impact on someone else, I do want to highlight something else from the story of the healing of Peter’s dad.

As I mentioned, Peter’s sister had been praying together with her Bible Study about their dad. It is a style of prayer where we bring a need to the LORD with a confidence that He will speak a WORD of salvation over a particular person or situation. There is an openness on our part to receive this WORD and to do whatever the LORD asks of us. Isn’t it amazing that the WORD was spoken by the LORD not to Peter’s sister but to one of the other members of the Bible Study? And God’s WORD bore fruit because that simple farmer believed in it and shared it with Peter’s sister. Let us be inspired by this example to be more fervent and confident in our prayers for one another, especially prayer partners, and let us be open to receive a WORD, believe in it, and share it with others!


Now I want to share with you another example of people going forth and the impact that it had. A few weeks ago, some friends of mine entered an abortion clinic in our area with roses in their hands. They lovingly go up to the moms in the waiting room and hand them a rose. As soon as a young mom received her rose, she began to weep. My friends could tell immediately that she did not want to be there so they spoke these words of love and hope to her: “there are a lot of people who support you, love you, and will do everything possible to help you keep your baby”. She took their hand and left the waiting room. She was visited a few days after and she had become strong in her desire to keep her baby and allow her baby to see the light! She was also hopeful, joyful and grateful. Wow! A baby is going to be born in a few months that would not have been born if those friends of mine did not go forth.

In our Archbishop’s letter, Unleash the Gospel, he insists that there can be no bystanders: no one can withdraw or excuse themselves from their particular share in the mission of JESUS and His Church. Why is it that there can be no bystanders? Why is the mission for all of us, in our own ways, to bear witness to the Good News of JESUS not an option, not something we can shirk from? It is because WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for what happens to others!


Here is a powerful image I heard from a priest friend that illustrates how we are responsible for one another. In order for the image to work, you have to pause for a moment and call to mind a neighbor, co-worker, boss, relative or friend of yours that does not know JESUS and/or that does not go to Church. It’s important that you have a name and face in mind. So, you die, and by God’s grace alone, you enter into His Kingdom. Shortly after you, that person you have in mind dies. You see them as they approach the awesome judgment seat of JESUS. They are filled with wonder and amazement as they gaze upon Him. Then, they turn to you and say: you knew about Him and never told me! Wow! How do you respond? Please respond to that person as it will indicate an area or areas of your life where JESUS wants to heal you and be your Savior. It is fear, doubt, apathy, or is it because you feel that your life is a mess and that you wouldn’t make a good witness? Whatever it is, it is not an obstacle for JESUS. Bring it to JESUS and allow Him to be your Savior.


Now, there is some really good news! Your life, the time you have left, is a wonderful gift and opportunity to change the outcome of that conversation with the person you have in mind! Yes, begin and cover that person in prayer: ask JESUS with faith to soften and open that person’s heart to receive a word or gesture of love, but then, be willing to speak a WORD of salvation and hope to that person. The HOLY SPIRIT will inspire you, give you a WORD, and help you to speak that WORD with love and boldness. Then, you can return to our image. That person dies shortly after you. You see them walk up to JESUS, look at Him, and then turn to you and say: JESUS, that brother/sister of mine not only prayed for me but they told me about you. Their words brought down a shower of grace upon my life. I fell in love with you, JESUS, because of him/her. Imagine the smile on JESUS’ faith as He turns to you!

Lord Jesus, touch this congregation so we may learn from your Word and be strengthened by your nourishing love to go out and serve our neighbors. Remember prayer is powerful. I will pray for all of you. Hopefully you will do the same for me.

Fr. Michael