So  back on May 11th – I had Mass for the St. Pius students here – and then we all stayed for the blessing of the new Marian shrine. . .

I was standing with Joe Monachino, the principal of Pius when he said, “Oh, here comes the Mayor of the Northland.”  And up walked Fr. Mike Roach – who always wears some nice, stylish looking shoes. . .

We were talking for a while and then Fr. Mike said, “Well, if I am the mayor of the Northland, here comes the mayor of the Diocese,” as Fr. Jerry Warris walked up.  I wish I had some golf shoes for Jerry – but this pair of tennis shoes will have to do.

 

As we were talking, I said to Fr. Mike – one of the things that bothers me about coming to St. Patrick is that I have some pretty big shoes to fill – and Mike said,

“Oh Matthew, you know St. Patrick is a great community – you don’t have to fill anyone’s shoes.  Just be yourself – and people will love you.”

When someone goes to a new school, or starts a new job, or moves to a new parish – others have expectations about you.  And in order to fit in – sometimes people give into those expectations – they are not being themselves – but they put up this false image – just to be accepted.

I think that was the problem people in Nazareth were having with Jesus – he wasn’t being like the Messiah they were expecting.  He wasn’t coming in as a conquering hero.  He wasn’t overthrowing the Romans.  He wasn’t putting the Jews on top of the pile – which is where many of them wanted to be after years of oppression.

Those in Nazareth thought they knew who Jesus was – and who he should be — BUT Jesus wasn’t filling the shoes, so to speak, of the Messiah they wanted — but he was being himself – and would be for them the Messiah they NEEDED – but this wasn’t good enough for them – and so they rejected him –

and Jesus did not fight them on that – he did accept them as they were – he was simply amazed at their lack of faith….

I was in a gift shop in Yellowstone a couple of weeks ago – a vacation I had planned about 6 months ago – so I wasn’t here, because I did not expect to get moved when I did. . .

Anyway, I came across a big black cowboy hat that I tried on and said to a friend – maybe I should buy this!  And he said, oh, Matthew — that is so not you — don’t you like people who are just brutally honest with you?? – we all need a few of those people in our lives!

He was right – a cowboy hat may have been Fr. Robert – but it’s not me.  My hats are more of the baseball cap-type. . .  Or if you drive by and see me out in the yard — the straw hat-type. . .

And that’s who I am – you and I don’t have to fill anyone else’s shoes – we don’t have to wear anyone else’s hats ——— we just have to be ourselves — the unique people God has created us to be – with our own unique gifts and talents. . .

One of the ancient desert Fathers, Abba Philip, once said these wise words — when I get to heaven, I will not be asked why I wasn’t Moses, or Elijah, or even like my neighbor, Abba Thomas.  I will, however, be asked – why wasn’t I Abba Philip??

God created each and every one of us as unique individuals – and God expects us just to be ourselves.  It may mean we are rejected by some – just like Jesus was in Nazareth  — but many more are going to fall in love with us: just as we are.  And in their acceptance – maybe will find the courage and strength we need to fine-tune ourselves a bit – so we can be more like Christ!

And it also means that God has given us those unique gifts and talents to use not just for our own good—but in part – to use for the building of the kingdom in our midst – right here at St. Patrick.

 

And now for this week’s “Matthew Moment”

“No prophet is not without honor except in his native place.”  Boy – have I felt that way more than a few times when I am among my family —

I grew up on a small farm in Southern Indiana –

My mother, as you know from last week, recently died – my father died 20 years ago this fall.

Dad was a mechanical engineer with the Department of Defense – and my mother was one of those stay-at-home moms. . .  While she did not always have milk and cookies for us every day when we got home from school – she was always there – and usually had a few chores for us to accomplish before dinner.

I have an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister ———- 5 of us – and I am the middle child – the one who is supposedly afflicted with all kinds of issues. . . I am sure my fellow middle children can relate. . .

My older brother is a doctor and lives in Alabama.  My older sister is retired – after 35 years with the Federal Government.

My younger brother is an industrial engineer with the Defense Department in California.  And my younger sister lives on the farm in Indiana and she works for UPS. . .

 

So if you kept up with all of that – we live in 5 different states – but do get together from time to time.  Next year it will most likely be in California as one of my nephews is getting married – I have 4 nephews and two nieces – and at this point, only one of my nieces is married.

So, as I said at my mother’s funeral – when we were growing up on the farm, we didn’t always appreciate it.  But now, looking back on it – what a great place to grow up!  We had one bathroom and one television – so we had to learn how to share.  We always had a big garden and hay to put up in the summertime – so learned how to work together. . .

It certainly gave me a love for the outdoors and for growing things.  One of the things I asked Bishop Johnston when he asked me to move – was, “where am I supposed to plant my tomatoes??”  If in Odessa – I will never get to eat them.  If in Kansas City – they will be pretty late — so, I will have tomatoes probably starting in September or so — since I planted them once I got here!

So come back next week –as we hear about the ministry Jesus entrusted to his disciples, and to us –  As well as another, Matthew Moment. . .

Have a blessed week with your re-charged batteries!