My best friend, Mary is in her 90’s. Every Saturday I meet her at church for 5 o’clock Mass. After Mass she hooks her arm in mine and I walk her to her car. Lately we’ve started going out to dinner after Mass with three of her other old lady friends, Irene, Kate and Lucille.
When we’re all settled at the table I ask, “What was the sermon about?” I get different answers, “I couldn’t hear it.” “I don’t remember?” or “Jesus cures a blind man.” Then I ask more questions to help jog their memory. Sometimes I just sit quietly and wait for them to ask me. They always do.
I remember when I started taking notes on the homily. It was shortly after Father Eric was assigned to our parish. He was giving one of his 7 to 10 minute homilies and suddenly I thought. I want to remember this and I pulled a little notebook out of my purse and started to write it down. This was about 4 years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since, not just when Father Eric speaks, but wherever I go to Mass, no matter what priest is giving the homily. Suddenly all the priests have something wonderful to share with me.
I knew the ladies would ask me what the sermon was about today. So I sat in the car for a minute and read over my notes. I read what Father said about lying. I thought do I lie? I do sometimes. Not good. Then I wondered if people understood what Father said or would they deny that they lie. They hear the homily but do they really get it. Father reminded us that there are many many ways to lie and listed them such as manipulation, deception, gossip.
So when I got to the restaurant they asked “what took you so long?” “I was reading the bulletin.” (Oh so easy to lie.) They said “We were waiting to ask you about the sermon.” Lucille, “I remember it! Father told us not to lie this week.” Mary, “I don’t lie!!” Kate “No, we were taught not to lie.” Irene, “We don’t lie do we?” I said, “I do but I try not to.” I asked, “Did you ever lie?” Lucille “Yes.” Mary “Maybe.” Kate “One time I lied to my husband but got caught so I never lied again.” They were fascinated with what Father had to say about lying. I told them people lie but don’t think of it as a lie like selling a car but not telling the buyer that there’s something wrong with it or returning something to the store and saying it was broken when you bought it when really you broke it yourself. Or realizing you were given too much change back and not saying anything.” They were surprised and agreed with me. They wanted to know how I knew all this. I said “I wasn’t always so good.”
They asked if there was anything else Father said. I told them this. “People say the Church should or should not do this or that. The Church would be better if only there weren’t so many do’s and don’ts. Why?” I asked. “Why does the Church tell us what we can and cannot do?” They didn’t know what to say. I repeated “why does the Catholic Church have dos and don’ts?” They were silent. Then I said maybe too loudly, “because of Jesus Christ! Because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Jesus nothing endures. There would be no eternal life. Our love for Him makes us want to do what we do. We realize we need Jesus.” Not quite quoting Father Eric but close.
Gone are the days when I sit and day dream through the homily. Loving Jesus makes me want to soak up and absorb as much of him as I can and gives me a desire to share what I learn with my friends.