A Jesuit priest friend of mine, Father John, once told me a story, while I was on a priest’s retreat.

Father John was teaching a college course called “Theology of Faith.” It was mandatory. Every student had to take the class. One student named Tommy did not want to be there. He was the resident atheist. He constantly objected, smirked and shunned the possibility of a loving God. As Father John once described, Tommy was the pain in the back pew.

The end of the semester came and it was time for Tommy to hand in his final exam. He asked Father John, “Do you think I will ever find God?” Father John chose a form of shock therapy to answer this question.

“No. But I am absolutely certain He will find you.” Tom graduated. And a few years later came sad news. He was struck with terminal cancer at only the age of 25. He came to see Father John. Tommy looked pale and all his hair was gone. He got right to the point: “Remember when you told me on the last day of class that I might not find God, but He would find me? I thought about that a lot.”

Tommy explained that when he got the news he had cancer, he got serious about locating God. He said, “It was as if I banged my head on the door of Heaven, but there was no answer. So, I gave up trying.”

Tommy then recalled more words from Father John from that theology class: “The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be equally as sad to go through life without telling those you love that you loved them.”

Tommy said he began with the hardest one: his father. He was reading the newspaper when Tommy approached him and said, “Dad, I wanted you to know that I love you.” The newspaper fell to the floor. Tommy’s father hugged and kissed him as tears welled in his eyes. They talked the rest of the night. Things became easier with his family from that night on.

Here he was in the shadow of death and he was just beginning to open up to his family. God had found him. He did not come to Tommy when he pleaded for Him. Tommy learned that God does things on His own time. He found Tommy after Tommy had stopped looking.

Father John asked Tommy if he would be comfortable speaking to one of his classes. Tommy deliberated for a few days and decided he would. They scheduled a date and the day came, but Tommy didn’t make it.

Why do I tell this story? Because it is about faith in the shadow of the cross. We humans share the cross all of our lives. The disappointments, the addictions, the insecurities, the illnesses, the death of loved ones. We all carry a cross at some point in life.

But we are also blessed with gifts. Faith – living, loving faith – is the most remarkable gift God gives us. Faith is always power, never weakness. It is the power of God, and with that power, we can carry any cross.

So when nothing is working, nothing makes sense and everything is falling apart, reach for God.

This, I believe, is why Jesus was transfigured in all His Heavenly glory; why He took the disciples to the mountaintop. Their faith would be tested time and time again, but they held on to their faith and that vision of the future.

When your faith is tested, think of Tommy. The surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver or instant consolation in times of need. Rather, try to open up to His love and simply say, “Be it done unto me, O Lord, according to Your will.”

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2 thoughts on “Fr. Bob’s Homily – Second Sunday of Lent

  1. Fr. Bob, Thanks for your message and the deep meaning of that message, the reminder that God will find us as we continue to believe in Him and His loving kindness and love for us.

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