From The Blog

Mission Monthly – August-September 2006

“Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, Holmes woke up Watson. “Watson, look up at the stars and tell me what you deduce.” Watson said, “I see millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.” Holmes replied, “No, Watson, somebody stole our tent!”

PARISH LIFE CONFERENCE SERMON – SATURDAY, JULY 1, 2006 by Fr. Joseph Cervo

Often in life it is the obvious which escapes us. If we are to grasp the obvious about what the prophet Joel said about living life as led by the Spirit of God, then what is it we will grasp; the obvious or the grand? What can be said about the Spirit-led life? Joel said: “old men shall dream dreams and young men shall see visions.” The word “vision” literally means a revelation. Through vision human beings have the capacity to contemplate the possibilities of tomorrow. Animals can’t do that. They react to surrounding influences and they respond with instincts. Only humans can set goals and dream of tomorrow’s possibilities.

The passage from Joel, which is this year’s conference theme, challenges us and beckons the question: Do we have goals, dreams and visions? Are we preparing for both the obvious and greater things for tomorrow? And by that, I mean, are we involving ourselves in something greater than serving self-interests?

To be led by the Spirit of God entails transforming our will to God’s will and to allow His teachings as revealed in Holy Scripture, and experienced in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, to direct our mind and spirit—to shape us into the image of Christ; obedient, submissive and productive. How do we do that? This doesn’t just happen by passively waiting for a miraculous sign from above. It happens by making a conscious decision to follow Christ, not just in Church on Sunday, but every day, in all areas of life. It means trusting Him to the point of following Him without reservation. We do this when we engage in the ministry of the local and greater church, making our faith come alive, using the time, talents and resources that God gave us, all to His glory.

You know, the Holy Spirit enables every person to exercise godly vision. He constantly works to inspire us to engage ourselves in the work of building up Christ’s Church, which transcends time and space and reaches into His eternal Kingdom. Christ tells us to love and care for one another—as we would care for Him in person. He tells us to set our goals on things eternal, to cultivate great visions, to dream godly dreams. A life which is led by the Holy Spirit is a life of dreams and vision. And it’s a life that stands up to the penetrating Light of Christ which illumines all.

We know that darkness leads to troubling encounters. We all make our share of mistakes. We all have made errant decisions in life. But the Light of Christ makes it clear that no person (with the notable exception of Christ Himself) has all the answers; and that when we think we do, we are chasing a dream that will be full of disappointments. So how do we test our dreams and visions? We do so by lining them up with Holy Scripture, with the Apostolic teachings and Holy Traditions of the Church. We test them by measuring them with the God-chosen leaders of the Church. In proverbs (11:14) we read: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” As surely everyone knows, this year we are celebrating 40 years of the episcopacy and primacy of His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP. The growth and achievements of this Archdiocese are a testament to his vision and the fact that he dared to dream dreams. So the question is, does our vision and dreams for the Church complement his? This is not to advocate cloning our vision and dreams to his, but it is important that ours do not counteract or detract from the accomplishments of his or those being cultivated by our Local Synod of Bishops, by our Diocesan Bishop or his local representative (the parish priest). Remember, testing our vision and goals by putting them next to those of the ones who have been called and chosen by God is the way that we find counsel and is God’s way of imparting the collective wisdom of the Church to us so that we may dream dreams and have godly visions.

The real characteristic of being led by the Spirit of God is not how many ideas we can come up with; nor is it the way we develop policy or programs. It isn’t about having a cheery exterior (not that it can’t help). It isn’t just about having warm fuzzy feelings. Being Spirit-led is all about sticking to the purpose for which God placed us here. It’s about being disciplined, obedient, sacrificial and a flexible instrument in the hands of God, being willing to change and become transformed to accomplish His will. It’s all about hard work and commitment with no personal agenda, other than being the best servant we can be. It’s all about being in union with Christ and having unconditional loyalty to Him. It’s about sharing our life with Christ here, so that we may share life with Him in His eternal kingdom. May we diligently and faithfully follow the Spirit of God which was poured forth upon us at our Chrismation, through the guidance of our Mother—the Church.

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