Sunday, July 9, 2017

Homily - Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Saving A Life

Zechariah 9:9-10
Romans 8:9, 11-13
Matthew 11:25-30
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Some here may remember that popular 70s song by Elton John called Someone Saved My Life Tonight.
Today’s Gospel message is for all those struggling with a loss of hope, all those burdened by burdens too heavy to bear, all those who may be battling severe depression and despair.
Jesus is the someone who can save your life.
            But in our present age Jesus many times comes disguised as His disciples committed to helping ease the burdens of those who are at their wits’ ends.
Perhaps you heard the name John Tumpane.  He’s the 34-year-old Major League Baseball umpire who was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh last week when he came upon a woman stepping over the railing to end it all.
He calmly approached the woman and gently grabbed a hold of her, saying, “Hey, you don’t want to do that.”
She replied, “No one wants to help me. Just let me go.” 
“I told her that wasn’t going to be the case, I was not gonna let go.”
Tumpane just tightened his grip. Soon, two others joined him in holding the woman through the bars of the bridge that traverses the Allegheny River. 
He said, "A couple times… she just slipped her legs off that little ledge, and just became a dead weight and we had to really hang on."

Throughout the ordeal, the woman asked, “Why are you doing this? You don’t care about me.”  Tumpane said, “I care. I care. We (all) care about you.”  And told her she wasn’t alone.
Doubting his authenticity, she insisted she wouldn’t be remembered by him. ”You’re gonna forget about me,” she said to Tumpane.
He told her, “I will never forget you, my whole life.”
Eventually police and EMS arrived on the scene and took over. They got the woman over the railing and secured her to a gurney.
Tumpane bent down to comfort the woman and tell her, “You’re safe.  Look at all of these people who care about you.” He then prayed with her just before she was taken to the hospital.
A reporter who was an eyewitness to the scene said, “Afterwards, he was so shaken up.” She said, “I grabbed his hand and thanked him. He looked like he was going to cry.”
After the incident, Tumpane returned to his hotel room to call his wife, rattled by his brush with grace.
Then he got dressed and headed to the ballpark to call balls and strikes as Pittsburgh hosted Tampa Bay.
As teams were warming up, he noticed the two other men who helped him save the woman’s life. One was a Tampa Bay team employee.

Tumpane said, "We had no idea that three people on that bridge, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, would have ... moved on with their day,” reflecting and noting with a sense of awe and wonder how these three men would find themselves in the same ballpark hours later.  They’d "all helped ... save someone's life" that day.
Thursday, before the series finale between Pittsburgh and visiting Tampa Bay, the Pirates organization and its fans honored Tumpane with a standing ovation.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Today’s gospel passage speaks of how those who are vulnerable are the most receptive to the revelation Jesus offers.  Even the word he uses for childlike, in Greek “h├Ępioi,” connotes the dependence of one who is needy.
As one bible scholar put it, “Perhaps, Jesus suggests not so much that God keeps things hidden from but rather our blindness is the real obstacle to seeing clearly the message of love and unity which Jesus constantly lived out.

If I cannot acknowledge my total dependence on God, I live in blindness. If I allow what I have learned and understand intellectually to hinder my “spiritual” eye, I remain in darkness—even partial blindness prevents me from seeing fully the truth in a given encounter."
St. Paul reminds each and every one of us today, “the Spirit of God dwells in you.”
Perhaps you know of someone who is struggling or who is carrying a heavy burden.  Do something!  
Through your caring, concern and compassion, you, too, can be Christ to a person in need of the Savior’s love. Perhaps you’ll even save a life tonight. This is how we build the Kingdom here on earth.
The Spirit of God dwells deep in the soul John Tumpane. It’s clear he understands what Jesus meant about alleviating heavy burdens and helping those struggling to find rest in the love of the Lord.

So, “Rejoice heartily, O daughter of Zion. Shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem. See, your king shall come to you, a just savior is he… His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the Earth.”