FR. TOM'S HOMILY FOR THE 21st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, August 23, 2020:
There is a wonderful children’s book by Susan Balika and Craig Boldman about a little boy named Bobby. In the book, Bobby tells us about his four best friends. First, there’s Jimmy. Jimmy and Bobby go on imaginary trips to the moon. But sometimes Jimmy visits his grandmother and leaves Bobby all alone and this makes him sad. Second, there’s Jamie. She and Bobby used to color pictures and tape them to the refrigerator door for everyone to see. But Jamie recently moved and now Bobby misses her very much. Third, there’s David. David and Bobby spend hours together buildings houses with wooden blocks. But sometimes they fight over the blocks and David goes home leaving Bobby all alone.
But, finally, there is Bobby’s best friend. This friend never leaves him. He never moves to a different city. Never gets mad and goes home. He always stays at Bobby’s side. In the summer, they lie on the grass together and talk about what they see in the clouds. In the winter they slide down hills together in the snow. You see Bobby’s best friend is – Jesus. The book ends with Bobby asking the reader, “Do you know my special friend Jesus?”
I like this story because it leaves us with the same question that our Gospel proposes today, “Who do you say that I am?” Bobby answers this question this way, “You are my special friend. You never leave me. You never move to another city. You never get mad at me and go home, even when I do something wrong. You stay at my side no matter what happens. You are always there to help me.” If we have trouble answering either of these questions – Bobby’s “Do you know my special friend Jesus?” or the Gospel’s, “Who do you say that I am?” – then maybe Jesus is speaking to us in a special way today.
Maybe Jesus is inviting us to get to know Him better. Maybe He is inviting us to get better acquainted with Him. Maybe He’s inviting us to enter into a deep and special relationship with Him. Most of us struggle with our faith at times, sometimes faith is stronger, sometimes it is weaker. And we often wonder why. But, the answer all comes back to Bobby’s question, “Do you know my friend Jesus?” Is Jesus your friend to?
When we want to get to know someone better, there is really only one way to do it. We find ways to spend time with them regularly. The more we do this, the more the relationship grows, develops, and deepens. The same is true if we want to know Jesus better. If we want to know Him with the same intimacy as friends, if we want to deepen our faith, deepen our friendship with Jesus, then we have to find the time to be with Him, and we have to do this every day. Daily prayer is simply the time we take each day out of our schedule to be with Jesus, to get to know Him better. This is the only way we can ever take our faith to a new and deeper level.
In his book Hunger for God, Ralph Martin writes, “A real estate man I know gets up early every morning to pray. An aerospace engineer reads Scripture every day during his lunch break; a manager at a computer firm prays every night after his children have gone to bed.” Martin notes that life has gotten so hectic for most of us that if we don’t make the effort to purposefully schedule prayer every day, it probably won’t happen. It’ll just remain among the good intentions that we have but don’t follow through on. When something is important to us, we don’t leave it to chance. We make sure it is a part of our regular activity. For many, this time of pandemic has given us a little bit more time on our hands; a break from the normal hectic pace – so what are we doing with it? Filling it with meaningless fluff or spending some time getting to know our friend Jesus better?
Today is a good day to make the commitment to spend more time with Jesus every day. If our answer to Bobby’s question today is, “No, I don’t know your friend Jesus as well as I would like,” then our readings today are meant for you. Jesus is inviting you to get to know Him better by spending some time with Him each and every day. He is inviting you to spend a few moments each night with Him reviewing your day and asking Him for help. He’s inviting you to spend some time every day with Him to talk about your hopes, your dreams, about your doubts and your problems. He’s inviting you to discover what Bobby discovered, that Jesus can be your friend, in fact, He should be your best friend.
When we have a friend in Jesus, our faith will deepen in ways we could never have imagined. This is a friendship that has the power to change our lives. What a friend we have in Jesus.
May the Lord give you peace.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.