Sermons

Friday, Jan 16: North American College, Rome

“Walking in the Footsteps of the Early Christians,” Saint Mary’s College, Pilgrimage to Rome Jan. 12 – Feb. 2, 2015.

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Before our departure earlier this week, I was at the Walnut Creek Nordstrom’s buying a pair of shoes.

I told my name to the young salesman assisting me, and that I needed a good pair of sneakers with solid arches for walking; and in the middle of the conversation I mentioned that I was taking a group of Saint Mary’s students to Rome for Jan Term. As we talked I explained that I was a teacher and a priest. He told me that his name was John Paul. As he was unpacking my brand-new New Balance shoes, he looked up at me and added: “Father I was not named after the pope, rather my mother gave me the name of two of the “Beatles.”

I replied: well, the good news is that she did not name you “Ringo George,” after the two remaining “Beatles.” This got me to thinking that in the 1960’s at the time of the great “British Invasion” with such rock groups as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones; there was yet another “Boys Band,” long, long before One Direction — and they were called the “Dave Clark Five.” Who, by the way, performed, on the Ed Sullivan Show many more times than the Beatles; they were very popular with audiences both in the UK and the United States; with the essential elements of fast music, and those screaming girls accompanying the public reaction to this rock group.

One of the Dave Clark Five’s biggest hits was a song “Glad All Over.” The lyric goes something like: “You say you love me all the time. You say you need me, and you’ll always be mine – well, baby I’m feeling glad all over, yes glad all over!”

So what’s the connection with Mark’s gospel? For the past several days in the very early chapters of Mark, at our daily Masses, we have read about Jesus’s “stretching out his hands” to heal lepers; and today’s story of the paralytic – both are cured much to their own astonishment. As you might imagine, both were “glad all over,” to be healed and leading a chorus of reaction with the “word of mouth” about Jesus. So much so, Jesus and his band of Apostles were having a “public relations” crisis — the “glad all over” and Jesus’s preaching, the healing the sick were simply too much for those Jews who wondered about Jesus, and his powers over people.

The “glad all over” effect of Jesus stretching out his hand – has its effect on each one of us – in baptism, confirmation, in marriage. I see the “glad all over” that deep sense of – the very “Joy of the Gospel” here at the North American College, and those men preparing for the priesthood. Kevin Kilgore, our deacon, comes from my home Archdiocese of Newark; and Matt Murray, who is assisting us this afternoon is ready to serve in the people in the Diocese of Oakland, CA. Thank you so much for inviting us today, and we are eager to hear from you later.

(Addressing Kevin and Matt) I see the “glad all over” effects in your lives; and how Jesus has affirmed the joy of your calling. (Addressing the congregation) I see the “glad all over” in all of your faces — as you gain support from this pilgrimage to Rome, and ready yourselves for adult life, strengthened from four years of a liberal arts education, and a genuine reverence for the mission of Christ. You will find this in the people you help in “service leaning” and in LaSallian partnerships; and in your parents and friends who have been so generous over so many years, and providing the support for this Jan Term pilgrimage.

You too – are “glad all over” and hopefully, the “glad all over” grace will mark your faith journey after graduation.

Let me end — with this quote from one of my seminary mentors and spiritual director, Father Jim Turro of Seton Hall – who once wrote these comforting words about vocation.

“The objectives of religious life (and your lives)

can be framed in the simplest terms:

to achieve a heightened sense of awareness of the divine

mysteries that lie beyond human experience.

To acknowledge the truth and grandeur of these mysteries in prayer, (study, and the wonders in your life).

And to chart a personal life that sharply accords with these mysteries,

Or as Micah (the prophet) put it:

‘To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Thy God”

May this visit — with the seminarians here at the North American College reflect the great wonders of God’s grace — so much so that you are “Glad all over” on the “journey of faith” — that is your life.

 

 

 

 

 

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