August 31, 2020
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor…
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-30)
The following homily, based on this same Gospel reading, was originally delivered in January 2013 at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. Message still rings true today:
In professional sports, there is an expression – “Next man up.”
When you play in the NFL, everyone on the team practices every day. However, only the best 11 are on the field at any one time, so the others wait for their opportunity, never knowing if or when that time will come.
You hear the success stories all the time. A star player gets hurt and some guy no one has ever heard of steps onto the field, plays a great game, and leads the team to victory. He was the next man up, he was ready, and he responded.
Fear and doubt were there, but his joy, exhilaration, and preparedness allowed him to do the job he was called to do.
When couples exchange wedding vows at the altar, they promise to love one another in sickness and in health. The fact is, as they say those words, they are likely thinking it will never happen to them.
Then a long-term, debilitating disease comes along, and both are challenged – one by the disease itself, the other by the prospect of caring for her spouse, possibly for the rest of his life…until death do they part.
One spouse can no longer care for himself. Maybe it’s as simple as bringing him the remote or helping him out of the chair, but it might be more profound. He might need to be dressed and fed. She might need to be bathed, including fixing her hair just the way she likes it. They took the vows, they have had years to prepare, so when it happens, it’s next man up.
I have had the privilege to witness loving couples go through such hardships. I saw how one spouse got past the fear and doubt, and allowed love and a servant’s heart to do the work necessary. They were not only living out their wedding vows; they were also living out the Gospel message. Scripture was fulfilled in their actions.Continue reading