10 JAN 2010

The Human side of Jesus

       Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. In the synoptic Gospels we have different accounts of Jesus Baptism. In todayís reading Luke does not say specifically that John baptized Jesus but we do believe he was baptized and the voice from heaven. Today I sort of wanted to reflect on the human side of Jesus.

       After the first year of my formation training I was interviewed by the director and after our interview he asked me if I had any questions or concerns. I did not and then he said he had one. He was concerned that after that first year in all the classes we had so far that year that he was afraid down the road that when I was ordained that people might not take me seriously.

       Well it has been over a year and a half since my ordination as a permanent deacon and I think I now have somewhat of a track record, with preaching more times than I can remember and having led in morning and evening prayers on a few occasions, praying with and taking communion to some parishioners either in the health care facilities or in their home.

       I have had the privilege of baptizing more infants in the past year and a half than I can keep track of and I have spent countless hours with many volunteers working at IJCF now the Indiana womenís prison.

       The point of this short review since the ordination of the first class of permanent deacons is that we are supposed to personify Jesus in our ministry. When I start preparing for a homily I am always struck with the human side of Jesus Christ.

       We all know that we celebrate the divinity of Jesus Christ every time we gather together at Mass on Sunday. The paschal mystery happens right here at the source and summit of our belief. It is important to remember that when we receive the Eucharist that we are indeed receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I believe this with all my heart and soul. I canít explain why but my faith tells me it is so. After all it is a mystery.

       But in speaking of the human side of Jesus it might be a little easier to understand because I believe I have seen Jesus personally in two people whom we all know here in our diocese. Just recently Father Paul Etienne was ordained a bishop out west in Wyoming. I had never met the man but I read with fascination everything the Criterion said up to his ordination as Bishop of Cheyenne. The pictures and the stories, where to me very inspiring, and proved so true.

       I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him a week before he left for Wyoming when he said his last Mass at his former parish in New Albany. I attended the dinner afterwards where about 700 people showed up to wish him well. In watching him work his way through all these people, in the humble way he interacted with each and every one of them, and with me, when he was introduced to me by another Deacon, the articles I read about him seemed so right on target for this newest bishop.

       The other person I believe I see Jesus in is in the person of our own Archbishop. I had the opportunity to witness his humbleness right here in Brownsburg, prior to even thinking about becoming a Permanent Deacon. At the steak fry for seminarians that the KofC put on I had the opportunity of shaking the Archbishops hand 3 times as he made his way around to the different groups.

       After the third time I said to him that this was the 3rd time that evening that I had shaken his hand. I said maybe something good will happen to me this week because of this. He looked at me and said with great humbleness that no may something good would happen to him.

       I was simply stunned that a man of his position would say that. Of course since my first interaction with him, things have taken a dramatic turn. I and 24 other men were ordained by him and now we all serve him. That simply was the pastoral side of our Shepherd and obviously made a big impression on me.

       Now through out the 4 years of formation for our class we did have some opportunities to interact with Archbishop Daniel on a social level. One Sunday morning he was sitting at my table for breakfast and I asked him a question.

       Now for those of us that work for other companies may or may not have a quote ''open door policy''. I tell this story now to show the human side of our Shepherd. I asked him, so once I am ordained and working for you can I just come by and talk with you if I have a problem or donít like an assignment? Archbishop Daniel sitting directly across from me, with just the slightest smile, asked me if they had talked to me about obedience. Of course I knew about the vow that we ordained take and I reached down and turned my name tag around but it was to late. A couple hours later he was leaving and he addressed me by name.

       So as I said earlier I often reflect on the human side of Jesus and from time to time wondered if Jesus had a since of humor. We know he was compassionate loving and caring. We know he had a temper. These are all human traits and they go along way to showing the humanity in Jesus.

       Of course we are called to see Jesus in everyone and sometimes it is very hard to do, other times it just comes at you in the way I just described in the meeting of Bishop Paul Etienne and our Archbishop Daniel Buechlein. As we are now more than half way through the Year of the Priest, as declared by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, let us keep all Bishops and Priest in our prayers and continue to ask the Lord for more men and women to continue his work by answering the call to priest hood or one of the many women religious orders.

       In closing does the human side of Jesus have a since of humor? I donít know, but I do know, that his Bishops, Priests and Deacons do. And between all of us we are here to serve the faithful with all the love and compassion and understanding that Jesus shared with us while he was here.+

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