Three friends decided to go deer hunting together: a lawyer, a doctor, and a priest.  As they were walking, along came a big buck. The three of them shot simultaneously. Immediately the buck dropped to the ground and all three rushed up to see how big it actually was.  Upon reaching it they found out that it was dead but had only one bullet hole. Thus a debate followed concerning who shot the buck.

A few minutes later a game officer came by and asked what the problem was. The doctor told him that they were debating who shot the buck.  The officer took a look at within a few seconds, he said with much confidence, "The priest shot the buck!"  They all wondered how he knew that so quickly.  The officer said, "Easy. The bullet went in one ear and out the other."

The first time they heard a voice from the clouds was during the baptism of Jesus.  The voice said, “You are my own dear Son.  I am pleased with you.”  This is the second time and it was only Peter, James and John who heard it.  The voice said, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”

Hearing what Jesus says is different from listening to him.  Peter knew that.  He heard Jesus said that following him means taking up one’s cross.  He should have listened instead.  Otherwise, he would not have denied him.  James and John knew that.  They heard Jesus saying that we need to be like children in order to enter God’s kingdom.  They should have listened instead.  Otherwise they would not have demanded ambitiously to sit beside Jesus at the end of time.

They heard God’s word, but they did not listen.  Some of us are like that.  Some of us had been called cafeteria Catholics because we choose only those moral issues we like to believe and follow.  Or probably because some of us only go to Church during special moments of our lives: when somebody gets matched, hatched or dispatched or special times of the year: the A & P crowd (Ashes and Palms) and the ACME group (Always Christmas Maybe Easter).  I wonder whether it will be a good thing when they start calling us buffet Catholics.  Pay a fixed price and believe all you can.

Religion can be easy for some.  It is following a God, who dares us to be better, that may be difficult for most.  A religion that is complacent, that refuses to take risks and accepts challenges, that is never pleased with suffering in life is not religion at all.  Relationship with God always carries a cross.  That is religion.

Religion is not only about how we feel.  It is about how we are in relation to God.  Religion is not only about emotions.  It is about actions.  Religion is not only about Mt. Tabor, where Jesus was transfigured.  It is also about Mt. Calvary, where Jesus was crucified.

Religion is giving God what is due to him.  And some of us find that hard to do.  What is due to God?  Every gift he gives us is due to him.  Every moment he lends us is due to him.  Every love he shares with us is due to him.

If we give God everything, then what is left for us?  Everything.  We gain everything whenever we give God everything.  Isn’t this the paradox of Christian life?  The more we give, the more we are given.  The more we share our time with others, the more we are given the time to enjoy life and be happy.  The more love we give, the more love is shared.

Lent is our time to be transfigured.  Being transfigured means being changed.  Being changed means listening more to Jesus, whom God has sent.  Jesus told us to love God above all else and to love each other.  Jesus told us that there is a penalty for evil deeds and reward awaits those who do good.

If we only listen to Him, we would understand that every saint was a sinner in the past and that every sinner is a saint of the future.  If we only listen to Him, we would realize that heaven begins in the here and now.  And if we only listen to him we would live happier and holier lives because we were created to be more than ordinary.  If we only listen to him.

The priest on the hunting trip was not from St. Charles.  We do things different here.  What goes in one ear does not go out the other.  What goes in one ear goes direct to the heart.  You heard.  And now, you have listened.

4 March 2012

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