Sermon: The Conversion of St. Paul

The podcast is available here.


The Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio

The sixth chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah begins: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.”  He goes on to describe the angels in attendance who were singing:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory.”

However, because he had seen the Lord (no one can see the Lord and live), he cried out: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”  Then he reports, “One of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.  The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”  And he said, “Go….”  And Isaiah went to the Israelites as the Lord commanded him.

Although Paul’s encounter with the Lord was different, it was also very similar.  The great light and glory of the Lord appeared around him and he fell to the ground in fear.  However, unlike the message that Isaiah was given, Paul was told to go to the Gentiles and proclaim the Good News, “to  open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”  In a very real way, the Lord said to Paul the exact same words as he spoke to Isaiah: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And Isaiah said and Paul said and so many others have said, “Here am I; send me!”

From the beginning, God has been calling all people back into relationship and making that relationship possible and eternal through Jesus, the only begotten Son.  This is a message that you have all heard and responded to.  The Lord called and you responded, but there is more, for Jesus also said to us, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Jesus is asking… he is asking us, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”  For a variety of reasons, that can be a scary question to answer, because we do not know where it will lead or who it will lead us to.  And to my knowledge, there is really only one way to overcome the reasons and the fears and that is to have a passion for souls.  Without any judgment, to look at them, to love them, and to desire eternal life for them.  This passion for souls is one that is always seeking ways to reveal God to those who are lost or broken or simply unaware of his great love for them.  And it is a passion that must burn brightly and therefore must always be tended, nourished with the Word of God, prayer, and the blessed sacrament of the Eucharist.  Build up within yourself this passion for souls, and when the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”  Say with Isaiah and with Paul, “Here am I, send me!”

Sermon: St. Antony

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The podcast is available here.



“As we have received the soul as a deposit, let us preserve it for the Lord, that he may recognize His work as being the same as He made it.”  If one sentence had to describe the life goal of St. Antony, the above, written by St. Athanasius in his Life of Antony, would fall far short, but would provide us with at least a gleaning.  The verse that inspired such a life is Matthew 19:21 which states, “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.’”  Or, as we read today from Mark’s Gospel when the rich young man asked what he must do to inherit eternal life.  “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 

Antony was born in the early third century to a well-to-do family.  When he was twenty, his parents died leaving him a substantial inheritance and a younger sister to care for, but upon hearing those commands of Jesus to sell everything, he obeyed.  He immediately sold all of his possessions and gave it all away except for the few things that he and sister would need.  Upon hearing more of the words of Jesus, “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself,” he gave away all that was remaining and placed his sister in a convent. 

That is not a calling to everyone, but it is should certainly serve as a reminder.  A reminder that all we have, including our very souls, belongs to God.  So, what belongs to God should be cared for by us.  As St. Paul declared to his young apprentice Timothy, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you– guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  

Antony was one who guarded his soul, yet even after taking to the desert to live a solitary life the devil came after it.  St. Athanasius wrote, “the enemy, who hates good… called together his hounds and burst forth… in the night they made such a din that the whole of that place seemed to be shaken by an earthquake, and the demons as if breaking the four walls of the dwelling seemed to enter through them, coming in the likeness of beasts and creeping things. And the place was on a sudden filled with the forms of lions, bears, leopards, bulls, serpents, asps, scorpions, and wolves, and each of them was moving according to his nature… Antony, stricken and goaded by them, felt bodily pains … but his mind was clear, and as in mockery he said, ‘If there had been any power in you, it would have sufficed had one of you come.”

Therefore, not only does Antony remind us that everything, including our souls, belongs to God, but he also shows us that we must actively engage in the protection of that “good deposit.”  So the question for us is: How are we guarding the soul that is within us?  Do we expose it to things that might harm it, or are we vigilant in placing a shield around it?  We can’t place ourselves in the midst of those things that harm the soul and expect to walk away unsoiled, “If you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change.  The devil changes you.”  So, like Antony, guard your soul and put up a fight for it when you have to.  It is the Lord’s possession.  

Sermon: St. Antony

The podcast is available here.



“As we have received the soul as a deposit, let us preserve it for the Lord, that he may recognize His work as being the same as He made it.”  If one sentence had to describe the life goal of St. Antony, the above, written by St. Athanasius in his Life of Antony, would fall far short, but would provide us with at least a gleaning.  The verse that inspired such a life is Matthew 19:21 which states, “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.’”  Or, as we read today from Mark’s Gospel when the rich young man asked what he must do to inherit eternal life.  “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 

Antony was born in the early third century to a well-to-do family.  When he was twenty, his parents died leaving him a substantial inheritance and a younger sister to care for, but upon hearing those commands of Jesus to sell everything, he obeyed.  He immediately sold all of his possessions and gave it all away except for the few things that he and sister would need.  Upon hearing more of the words of Jesus, “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself,” he gave away all that was remaining and placed his sister in a convent. 

That is not a calling to everyone, but it is should certainly serve as a reminder.  A reminder that all we have, including our very souls, belongs to God.  So, what belongs to God should be cared for by us.  As St. Paul declared to his young apprentice Timothy, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you– guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  

Antony was one who guarded his soul, yet even after taking to the desert to live a solitary life the devil came after it.  St. Athanasius wrote, “the enemy, who hates good… called together his hounds and burst forth… in the night they made such a din that the whole of that place seemed to be shaken by an earthquake, and the demons as if breaking the four walls of the dwelling seemed to enter through them, coming in the likeness of beasts and creeping things. And the place was on a sudden filled with the forms of lions, bears, leopards, bulls, serpents, asps, scorpions, and wolves, and each of them was moving according to his nature… Antony, stricken and goaded by them, felt bodily pains … but his mind was clear, and as in mockery he said, ‘If there had been any power in you, it would have sufficed had one of you come.”

Therefore, not only does Antony remind us that everything, including our souls, belongs to God, but he also shows us that we must actively engage in the protection of that “good deposit.”  So the question for us is: How are we guarding the soul that is within us?  Do we expose it to things that might harm it, or are we vigilant in placing a shield around it?  We can’t place ourselves in the midst of those things that harm the soul and expect to walk away unsoiled, “If you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change.  The devil changes you.”  So, like Antony, guard your soul and put up a fight for it when you have to.  It is the Lord’s possession.  

Sermon: The Baptism of Our Lord RCL C – “Four Friends”

The podcast is available here.


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The fella gets his first computer.  Unpacks it, turns it on… all is well.  Then the problems begin to arise.  Eventually he is stuck and he calls customer service.  The problem: it is no longer working.  Mouse: dead.  Screen: dead.  The customer service agent walks him through it: “Turn it off and back on again.”  Nothing.  Finally, the agent wants to see if the thing is even plugged in, but the customer says he can’t see the outlet properly.  The agent suggest looking at it from another angle.  We’ll pick up the conversation from there:

Customer: “Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle, it’s because it’s dark.” 

Support: “Dark? 

Customer: “Yes, the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.” 

Support: “Well, turn on the office light then.” 

Customer: “I can’t.” 

Support: “No? Why not?” 

Customer: “Because there’s a power outage.” 

Support: “A power… A power outage? Aha! Okay, we’ve got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?” 

Customer: “Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.” 

Support: “Good! Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.” 

Customer: “Really? Is it that bad?” 

Support: “Yes, I’m afraid it is.” 

Customer: “Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?” 

Support: “Tell them you’re too stupid to own a computer.” 

For my money, there is Siri: “Hey Siri: What is ….?”  And if she can’t answer it, there is Youtube and Google, because 99.9% of the time, someone has already asked your question and in many cases, if you’ll spend a few minutes searching, you’ll discover that a true expert has answered your specific question and posted that answer for all to benefit.

Other times, we go seeking out the help we need from individuals, whether it be from a doctor, the police, and even times when we don’t necessarily think we are asking for help.  Consider the grocery store.  We go to the grocery store and see it as a service being provided and we choose the store we want based on the level of service we receive or want.  But by going to a grocery, we are asking for help, because there are very few of us who know anything about growing food or raising animals.  By going to a grocery, we are asking the grocer to help us to acquire food from those who produce it.  On and on it goes.  We may like to believe that we are independent, but we live in a society where we truly need one another’s help in order to survive.

We also live in a society where those who are unable to help themselves can receive assistance from others.  And may I brag on you all for a minute: as part of our Community Tithe, we gave $4,500 to our neighbors at Our Daily Bread to assist them with a new floor.  They serve up to 5,000 meals a month to those in need.  Well done!  Like Our Daily Bread, there are services being offered throughout our community to assist those in need, and our church and many of you help make those services available.  In doing so, we follow Jesus teaching to love and to serve.  As Thomas Merton said (I believe I’ve shared this one with you before): “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”  We don’t say, “You’re too stupid to own a computer… to have what you need, instead, we love and we serve.

Think of that incident when Jesus was in a house teaching.  Everyone wanted to hear him and the room was packed with no way in or out.  However, four friends brought their buddy, a paralytic, to see Jesus in hopes that Jesus would heal him, but because of the great crowd, they could not get in.  From the Gospel of Luke: Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.  And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.  When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

The four friends carried their buddy up on the roof, tore through the tile roof, and then lowered their friend down to Jesus.  We know the story from there: Jesus forgives the man’s sins and heals his paralysis.  Today, when we see someone in need we will in most cases assist them, but in the time of Jesus and before, someone who was paralyzed, poor, sick, in need was judged.  In Merton’s words, they were deemed unworthy, because their paralysis, poverty, sickness, whatever, was not due to circumstances, but to sin.  If you are paralyzed, you are receiving the reward of your sins.  Think of Job: his three friends that came to him never for once thought that Job had not sinned.  They kept telling him to repent and then the Lord would restore him.  Same system applies to the paralytic, he was a sinner and his paralysis was a direct result of his sins, but then… he had four friends.

He had four friends that looked past his paralysis, his sins, his issues and brought him to the one person they believed could help him: Jesus.  They carried him to the roof and lowered him down.  Now here is one of those amazing bits of this story that we often miss: Scripture then says, When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  The man’s sins were forgiven and he was healed, not because of his faith, but because of his friends faith.  When He saw their faith (the four friends faith), He said to him (to the paralytic), “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  The man was forgiven and healed because of the faith of his friends.

Today, the First Sunday after the Epiphany, we always read about and celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord.  In doing so, even though we may not have any baptisms, we renew our Baptismal Covenant, which we will be doing in a few minutes (or half an hour, depending on how long this sermon is).  We do this as a reminder to ourselves and to one another of what we as God’s people are called to.  However, there is one question that we are asked at a Baptism that we are not asked when we renew our vows.  It is only implied.  It follows after the person to be baptized or the Godparents have been asked if they renounce Satan and turn to Christ.  Then, the priest turns to the congregation, to you and asks: “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support this person in their life in Christ?”  Your response: “We will.”  What are you vowing to when you say, “We will”?  You are vowing to be the four friends of the person being baptized.  You are vowing that you will be the ones who will in faith bring this person to Jesus, you will be the ones who lower them into the waters of baptism, just as the four friend lowered the paralytic through the roof, and you will be the ones who place them before Jesus so that they may encounter Him, have their sins forgiven, and be healed.

Today, as you renew your Baptismal Covenant, I want you to remember what you have vowed to God for yourself, but I also want you to consider those around you—and even those who have not yet come to faith in Christ that you may bring to Him—I want you to consider them all and how you might fulfill your vows towards them.  How you might be their four friends.

Let us pray: 
Father in Heaven, 
ever-living source of all that is good, 
keep us faithful in serving You. 
Help us to drink of Christ’s Truth, 
and fill our hearts with His Love 
so that we may serve You in faith 
and love and reach eternal life.
In the Sacrament of the Eucharist 
You give us the joy of sharing Your Life. 
Keep us in Your presence. 
Let us never be separated from You
and help us to do Your Will.
Amen.

Sermon: The Epiphany RCL C – “Keeping the Boxes”

The podcast is available here.


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There was once an absent-minded professor who became so absorbed in his work that he forgot the simplest details. One morning his wife said, “Now Henry, remember, we are moving today. Here, I’m putting this note in your pocket. Don’t forget.”  The day passed by and the man came home to his house. He entered the front door, and found the place empty.  Distraught, he walked out to the curb and sat down. A young boy walked up to him, and he asked him, “Little boy, do you know the people who used to live here?” 

The boy replied, “Sure, Dad, Mom told me you’d forget.” 

I don’t care if you’re moving from Montana to Oklahoma or just across the street, moving is unpleasant. The packing, the mess, fingers stained with newspaper print, the trucks, everything. At first you’re packing everything nice and tidy, making sure nothing will break, but after a few days your chucking Granma’s china in a box and wishing it the best of luck. And then there’s all the stuff you’ve been hanging on to for years, only to discover that it fits into a garbage can a whole lot easier than it fits into a box! 

Over the course of the last 30 years, I’ve moved more times than I care to think about. From home to college, college to home, home to first apartment, on and on. Interestingly enough, through all the moves, I’ve always had one habit: I keep the boxes. I break them down, bundle them up, and store them away so that I can get at them for the next time. Why do I plan for the next move? Because I don’t ever actually plan to stay. I don’t ever plan to fully commit. Why? Fear? Maybe. Never satisfied? Not sure. I really don’t know why? So I kept the boxes. 

Dido. Beautiful voice and singer. And please don’t tell Scarlett Johannson I said this, because I don’t want to ruin my chances with her, but… Dido… “How you doin’?” Anyhow, I very much enjoy her music and she has this song, Life for Rent. I won’t sing it for you, but the lyrics of the refrain speak a good bit of truth about my boxes: 

If my life is for rent and I don’t learn to buy 
Well I deserve nothing more than I get 
’cause nothing I have is truly mine 

If my life is for rent, if I’m just going to keep the boxes in anticipation of the next move, and not buy, not commit, then I actually have nothing, everything is temporary. The upside, if things don’t work out, moving is a pain, but all I have to do is haul out the boxes and start packing. For the record: after the last move I made, I got rid of all the boxes. You all have a way of growing on a fella. 

So, what does all this business about boxes and moving have to do with today, the Epiphany of Our Lord? 

The Epiphany is really all about how the God of the Jews, the One True God, was first revealed to the Gentiles, and it just so happens that the Gentiles are represented by the wise men from the East who came with their gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, each having a symbolic meaning. Gold was the gift for royalty, frankincense was offered up as incense to the deity, and myrrh was a primary ingredient for embalming. The wise men saw Jesus as king and God, but they also anticipated his death. 

This is where my head got stuck this week: in thinking about this revealing of God to the Gentile visitors and the very fine and valuable gifts they brought, but we know that the Lord has need of nothing we can bring. St. Paul said to the Athenians, “The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.” God has no need of anything that we can bring him, but he does have a desire, of which we have spoken before: God “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God needs nothing from us, but he desires, he has this furious longing that we come to him in love. The wise men brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but the Lord says through the author of Proverbs: “My child, give me your heart.” (Proverbs 23:26a) Give me your heart. Again, nothing new. We give God our hearts, ourselves, but you know what we do? We keep the boxes. 

We don’t move into this relationship completely. Why? Same reasons I didn’t give up my boxes. Fear. Doubts. Other opportunities. 

“Ok, Lord. Let’s walk down this path together, but…” I’m prepared to give you my heart as long as I don’t need it. You see, I’ve got all these other items on my To Do list that I want to check off. I understand that you have a desire for me, but I’ve got my own desires that I intend on fulfilling, so I’ll give you my heart, until I need it back, then I’m going to pack my boxes and move on. If you’re still here when I get back, maybe we can pick up again, but… but… 

Last week we talked about free will. How God has given us the gift of choice. God chose us to be the recipients of his furious love, which left us with this free will, the option to choose to accept or reject Him. Many choose to accept, to believe in him, but how many choose to fully commit, to throw out the boxes? 

We aren’t talking about committing to New Year’s resolutions here. Those last 20 pounds. Etc. Instead, we’re talking about that one thing that has been tugging at you for a while, nagging at you to do or change about yourself in order to fully commit to Christ’s call on your life, but you don’t because… fear, options, because, etc. Got to keep the boxes. That great and wise sage Howard Stern says, “The only way to be successful at anything is NOT to have a backup plan.” 

The Lord says, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” and Jesus says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The Lord has not “kept the boxes.” Even in the midst of his greatest trial, he never wavered. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “You never hear Jesus say in Pilate’s judgment hall one word that would let you imagine that He was sorry that He had undertaken so costly a sacrifice for us. When His hands are pierced, when He is parched with fever, His tongue dried up like a shard of pottery, when His whole body is dissolved into the dust of death, you never hear a groan or a shriek that looks like Jesus is going back on His commitment.” This from the one who loved you before you even knew his name. If he has committed to you so completely, then pitch out the boxes, the excuses, the fears, whatever is holding you back from fully committing yourself to him, and enter into the salvation and joy of the Lord. 

My friend St. Josemaría Escrivá: “Consider what is most beautiful and most noble on earth, what pleases the mind and the other faculties, and what delights the flesh and the senses. Consider the world, and the other worlds that shine I the night—the whole universe. And this, along with all the satisfied follies of the heart, is worth nothing, is nothing and less than nothing, compared with this God of mine!… of yours!” (The Way #432) 

Throw out the boxes. Just as the wise men gave the Christ child their gifts, give the Lord your heart without reservation or condition. 

Let us pray:
Father of light,
unchanging God,
today you reveal to all who come to faith
in you the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh.
Your light is strong,
Your love is near;
draw us beyond the limits
which this world imposes,
to the life where Your Spirit
makes all life complete.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Sermon: The Holy Name of Jesus

The podcast is available here.


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The Christogram, “IHS”, is the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ.


There is a single word, that every time I hear it, a joke pops into my head: unique. The joke: Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit? A: You-neek up on him. Apparently my last name has the same effect on people, for after being introduced, someone will inevitably say, “For whom the bell tolls.” Then they laugh as though they were the first ones to ever say it. They’re not.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. The name “Jesus” is from the Hebrew Joshua, or Yehoshuah, meaning, “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh will save.” It was the name given to him by his Father. As we read in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

The name Jesus is an interesting name and has wildly varying effects on people. It can cause some to give thanks and others to rage. It is a name that has the ability to bring peace and ravaging wars. It is truly the name above all names, but why so much division. Why so much discord when it is spoken? There are many different answers, but one thing is for certain, we can either contribute to the rancor or help bring about a greater peace, for in the same way that people recall the name of an Ernest Hemingway novel when they hear my last name, they will or will not recall the name of Jesus when they hear yours. Consider a Stradivarius violin.

Stradivarius is the name associated with the finest violins in the world. This is true because Antonius Stradivarius insisted that no instrument constructed in his shop be sold until it was as near perfection as human care and skill could make it. Stradivarius observed, “God needs violins to send His music into the world, and if any violins are defective God’s music will be spoiled.” His philosophy was summed up in one sentence: “Other men will make other violins, but no man shall make a better one.”

Each violin was unique in itself, but each was the finest instrument of its kind. If not, Stradivarius would not attach his name to it. If he had, then the instruments he attached his name to would not have been considered of such great value, and in turn, his name would have been smeared and his influence forgotten.

In a similar manner, as the Christian people, the name of Jesus is attached to us and if we are not viewed as the holy instruments of our God, then we tarnish the name of Jesus and in the process we drive people away from the Truth and in many cases, make them enemies of God.

You bear the greatest name in history: Jesus. When people speak your name, may the name they also recall in their minds be that name: Jesus, because through you, they have experienced him.

Sermon: Christmas Eve RCL C

The podcast is available here.


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A Sunday school teacher was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. “Why do people believe that I’m a Christian?” the man asked.  The boys squirmed, but no one answered, so he asked again, “Why do people believe that I’m a Christian?”  Finally, Little Johnny raised his hand.  “Yes, Johnny.  Why do people think I’m a Christian.”  Johnny answered,“Maybe it’s because they don’t know you.”

You don’t see it as much anymore, but several years back there was a rather popular message on outdoor church signs: “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  Would there be any physical evidence, more than just wearing a crucifix or a WWJD bracelet, would there be visible works?  Would there be witnesses who would come forward and testify to your life as a Christian?  Would your own testimony be enough to convict you?  Would there be changed lives in the wake of your passing due to your Christian witness?  Or would it be like that Sunday school teacher, once folks got to know you…?  To this, all I can say is, “Please don’t put me on the stand!”  

Yes, I can pull it off on occasion and I even dress the part, but if you really get to know me… Fr. Klukas was my Liturgics professor in seminary.  When you asked him if he would like a cup of coffee, he would always respond, “Yes, please.  Black, like my heart.”  I take my coffee the same way.  So we say with St. Paul, “I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.… Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  You see, we don’t come to God because we are saints.  We come to God because we are those in need of a loving and merciful God, who, in spite of our “coffee” like hearts, desires to draw us to Himself.  In return, he asks that we extend to others, both friend and stranger (and even enemy), as much of this same love and mercy as we are able.  And we’ll do so in the occasional great works, but most often it will be witnessed in the everyday moments of our lives.

A taxi driver recorded the following event during a day at work: I arrived at the address and signaled. After waiting a few minutes, I beep again. Since this was supposed to be my last passenger, I thought about leaving, but instead I parked the car, went to the door and knocked … “Just a minute,” said a fragile, elderly woman’s voice. I heard something being dragged along the floor. 

After a long pause, the door opened. A little woman of about 90 was standing in front of me. She was wearing a plain dress and a hat with a veil, as if from 1940s films. Next to her was a small suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for many years. All furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no trinkets or dishes on the shelves. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photographs and glassware. 

“Would you help me carry the bag to the car?” She asked. I took the suitcase to the car and then came back to help the woman. She took my hand and we slowly walked toward the car.

She continued to thank me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her, “I just try to treat my passengers the way I want them to treat my mother.” 

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got into the car, she gave me the address and then asked: “Could you go through the center of the city?” 

“This is not the shortest route.  It’ll be much more expensive,” I replied. 

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. – “I’m not in a hurry.”

I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes sparkled. “My family left a long time ago,” she continued in a low voice, “The doctor says that I have not very long to go.” 

I calmly extended my hand and turned off the meter. 

“What route would you like to go?” I asked.

For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the area where she and her husband lived when they were newlyweds. She showed me a furniture warehouse, which was once a dance hall, where she worked as a little girl. 

Sometimes she asked me to slow down in front of a specific building or alley and sat staring into the darkness, saying nothing. Then she suddenly said: “I am tired, perhaps we will go now.” 

We rode in silence at the address she gave me. It was a low building, something like a small sanatorium, with a driveway along the portico.  It was a hospice unit.

Two nurses approached the car as soon as we arrived. They gently helped her out. Must have been waiting for her. I opened the trunk and carried a small suitcase at the door. The woman was already sitting in a wheelchair. 

“How much do I owe you?” She asked, reaching for her purse. 

“Nothing at all,” I said. 

“You have to make a living,” she replied. 

“There are other passengers,” I replied. 

Almost without thinking, I leaned over and hugged her. She hugged me tightly in response. 

“You gave the old lady some happiness,” she said. “Thank you.” 

I squeezed her hand and then left. The door closed behind my back, it was the sound of closing another book of life.

The taxi driver asked himself: What if this woman got an angry driver, or one who could not wait to finish his shift? What if I refused to fulfill her request, or, having honked a couple of times, left? What if…

He writes, “In the end, I would like to say that I have not done anything more important in my life.”

Our hearts may be black like coffee, but each day, we try to let a little of the light of God’s love and mercy out into the world.

It is Christmas Eve and you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with the Christ child in the manger.

As I pondered this season of Christmas, I came to the conclusion that Bethlehem is no longer confined to the borders of a small middle-eastern country.  Instead, the world is Bethlehem, and the manger… the manger is wherever Christ is born.  For the lady on the way to hospice, the manger was a taxi cab, and the Christ child was revealed to her in the person of a cab driver. The world is Bethlehem and perhaps there was no room at the inn, so that you… you… could choose the location of the manger, the place where the Christ child could be born and revealed to the world or to just one person in need of God’s love and mercy.

May we become those who are easily convicted of being God’s people.  May the Christ child be born in us each.  May we be the bearers of God’s love and mercy into all those we encounter.

Let us pray: 
God of love, Father of all, 
the darkness that covered the earth 
has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. 
Make us a people of this light. 
Make us faithful to your Word, 
that we may bring your life to the waiting world. 
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.