Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 5-4-23

4th week of Easter, Thursday, 5-4-23, Year A
Readings: First Reading Acts 13:13-25; Ps 89:2-3,21-22,25&27; Gospel Jn 13:16-20
Theme: Receiving Christ

“Amen, amen, I say to you whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

One day you are driving in your car alone and all of a sudden, your tire goes flat. The rumbling, shaking, and swaying of the car are telltale signs that you have trouble. It is getting dark, and you are on a quiet stretch of country road. You pull over and mumble something under your breath that might require Confession. Grabbing your phone, you go to make a call, and there is no signal. Again, mumbling under your breath in frustration, you contemplate what to do next. You have never changed a tire on this car before and are not even sure where the jack or spare tire is.

At that moment, car lights appear down the road. They get closer and eventually slow down and pull in behind you. You are not sure what to expect and a little anxiety creeps into your thoughts. A man gets out of the car and asks if everything is all right. He seems nice enough, so you tell him you have a flat and need to change it. He offers to help you and after 20 minutes your tire is changed, and he puts the car jack back in the trunk of his car. He asks if there is anything else he can help with. You say no and thank him with a sincere gesture and a handshake. He tips his hat to you, gets into his car, and drives away, waving to you as he goes.

As his taillights disappear over the hill down the road, you realize that you never even asked what his name was or where he was from. You get into your car, pull back on the road, and continue on your way. Eventually, your phone picks up the cell network and you call the people who are now probably worried about where you are. As you hang up the phone, you feel relief from the anxiety and worry you felt earlier. Suddenly you realize that maybe, just maybe you met Jesus tonight.

In some of our darkest and worst times; and average and everyday times, Jesus comes to us. We only need to receive Him when He does, and then recognize His work in the person who is helping us. We should not let our pride get in the way of Jesus’s help when we need it, or in a conversation with a stranger in the grocery line.

Many times, we are islands with personal space bubbles around us that prevent us from having an encounter with Christ in the person next to us.

I am reminded of the Progressive Insurance commercials where the social psychologist is trying to help young homeowners not turn into their parents. You know, it is OK to ask the server her name and for you to tell her yours. It is OK to have a conversation in the elevator. We do not need to be personal islands all the time. Let those who can help you, help you. Say Hi and smile at a stranger and allow Christ to work through you to them. Try to recognize when Christ may be working through others to serve you and be thankful for it at the end of the day.

When we let pride rule in our lives, we might be inclined to turn down that driver who pulled over to help change our tire saying, “Thanks but no thanks, I’ve got this.” You may find when that person drives off and is gone, that your car jack is missing and you have no way to change the tire, with no one to help and no way to call anyone. Without realizing it, your pride made you an island in the middle of an ocean.

Receive Jesus in those you meet every day and recognize the random acts of kindness that He works through others in your daily lives. Be thankful and do not let pride and arrogance make you an island, where you miss out on meeting Jesus and the Father who sent Him.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL