Project Description

Jeremiah 17:5-8, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 / Luke 6:17-26

I love talking to my dad these days.

He’s 86 and now I’m beginning to
realize that there’s so much wisdom
that’s in those 86 years.

He’s probably been pretty wise
for quite a while—
but I just wasn’t mature enough—
or smart enough—
to really listen—
to really appreciate what he had to say.

You know how we are—
especially in our youth or
in our middle age even—
or maybe even at an older age—
we just think we know everything.

And, of course, we don’t.

Remember in ancient Greece,
the Oracle of Delphi—
known as the most
accurate prophet in the world—
was asked one day:
“Who is the smartest person
in all of Athens?”

The Oracle replied:
“Socrates, he’s the smartest
person in all of Athens.”

So, people go to Socrates and tell him
that the Oracle of Delphi has declared him
as the smartest person in all of Athens.

Well, Socrates was shocked—
“How could I be the smartest person in Athens!
The only thing I know . . . is that I don’t know anything!”

That’s why—
That’s why—
the Oracle declared that
Socrates was the wisest person in all of Athens.

He knew he didn’t know everything.

I just wish I could have been
more like Socrates for more of my life.

My Dad and I were talking the other day—
we were talking about cars since his
had broken down and he needed to get another one.

I was thinking since this will be his last car—
maybe he’d want a real nice one to drive—
one that would impress all his
breakfast buddies at McDonalds.

Well, I was wrong.

What he told me will stick with me
as long as I have a memory that remembers.

My dad said:
“Son, I don’t have to impress anybody. . .
the only person I want to impress is Jesus.”

“The only person I want to impress is Jesus.”

See why I’m so glad I’m listening more
closely to my dad these days.

As I was thinking about my dad’s words—
spoken now in the twilight of his life—
it reminded me of a book I’ve had on my shelves—
but hadn’t looked at it for a couple of years now.

It’s called—
Last Words: Final Thoughts of Catholic Saints and Sinners.

Someone’s last words—
the words they speak right before they die—
have always been of great
interest to people.
As a matter of fact,
“last words” is an official subject category in the
Library of Congress’s classification system.

With someone’s lasts words—
at the time of death—
hopefully one is no longer
preoccupied with the superficialities of life.

And with all the superficial things stripped away—
Maybe—maybe what ‘s really important—
maybe the very essence of one’s life
will be forced to the surface.

So, people’s last words can be interesting.

Guess what the last words were of Conrad Hilton—
the founder of the famous Hilton Hotel chain?

When he was dying,
his hotels were still on his mind.

He uttered:
“Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub.”

And Frank Sinatra—
the proud singer of “I did it my way”.

To his wife,
Who was sitting at his bedside,
Sinatra said,
“I’m losin.’”

I was very excited to look up
what the last words were
of some of my favorite saints.

I have a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus—
That human heart that loves us so much.

This devotion was popularized by the female mystic
St. Margaret Mary of France.

Her last words:
“I need nothing but God and
to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”

Isn’t that beautiful:
“I need nothing but God and
to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”

This was St. Catherine of Siena’s last words:

“I have not sought vainglory,
but only the glory and praise of God.”

And the great St. Augustine of Hippo:
“Your will be done, come Lord Jesus.”

The common themes of the last words
of the saints were obvious—
a deep love and surrendering of their lives to Jesus—
a sense of deep dependence on the divine—
on God alone—
an ultimate trusting in the Lord.

St. Theresa of Avila’s last words:
“A humble and contrite heart you will despise.”

St Francis Xavier’s last words:
“Jesus, Son of David, Have mercy on me.”

A surrendering of one’s life—
an ultimate dependence on God alone.

I thought of all of this as I reading our gospel today:
St. Luke’s beatitudes.

In almost every case—
when the Bible pronounces
that someone is “blessed”—
what it means is that they are
living right in the eyes of God.

And what does living right in the eyes of God mean?

Well, Jeremiah pointed it out in the first reading!

Someone is righteous—
someone is living right in the eyes of God—
if—if—they have placed their ultimate trust in God—
if—if—they surrender to the will of God.

Not in things—
Not in ideologies–
Not in other people—
Not in ourselves—
but in God.

You know,
every culture—
and every person in that culture—
develops their own definition of
what its notion of right living is—
what its notion of righteous is.

In the Jesus’ culture,
many assumed that wealth—
that prosperity—
that happiness—
that being approved by others—
were the sure signs that
someone was living right in the eyes of God.

But Jesus makes it clear—
Jesus makes it crystal clear—
that this notion of living right is
as one commentator put it—
“trash theology”—
“false righteousness.” Simone, SJ, “The Prophet of “ America,

That’s the message of Jesus’ beatitudes.

If someone is poor,
or hungry,
or mourning,
or persecuted—
or an outcast—
that does not mean—
that does not mean
that they are not living right in the eyes of God.

As a matter of fact, Jesus warns,
Just the opposite may be true.

The rich—
The satisfied—
Those who delight in the ways of the world—
Those who are concerned about their standing in society—
Maybe they aren’t living right in the eyes of God.

Maybe they are placing their
ultimate trust in things other than God.

It seems to me—
that our culture’s view of right living—
of righteousness—
may be similar to the culture that Jesus was
addressing some 2,000 years ago.

So, the Beatitudes speaks to us—
just it like they spoke to Jesus’ audience.

Many times—many times—
things look completely different in the eyes of God.

Well, with all of this in mind—

The conversation with dad—

Why Socrates was declared the
smartest person in all of Athens

The famous last words of some of the saints—

And especially the words of Jesus—
especially the Beatitudes.

I’ve thought about what I want my very last words to be.

What will I speak when all the superficialities
have been stripped away?

Maybe, with God’s grace—
I’ll be able to say something like:
“Jesus, I only wanted to please you.”
Or like St. Therese—
Who while looking at her Crucifix,
“Oh! I love Him!
My God…I love you!”

Or like the repentant thief—
As he hung dying beside the dying Jesus:
“Jesus remember me
when you come into your Kingdom.”

Or maybe—
With God’s grace—
Speak something like St. Ambrose.

What if my last words—
Or your last words—
Be something like his:

“I see the Lord Jesus,
Smiling at me.”

Holy Spirit 02/16-17/ 2019