Project Description

Lent 1C
Deuteronomy 26:4-10 / Romans 10:8-13 / Luke 4:1-13

I had the most wonderful
surprise this past Tuesday—
The day before Ash Wednesday.

I was looking for a book to read
and was perusing my bookshelves—
when I saw a book that I hadn’t read:
“This book looks interesting!” I thought

And as I pulled the book out of the shelve—
an envelope fell to the floor.

The envelope was addressed:
The Reverend Father Steve Roberts—
Neo-presbyter.

Neo-presbyter—
New priest.

It was sealed—
I had never opened it.

So probably the book was an ordination gift
and I hadn’t noticed that there a card on the inside.”

Interesting that this card
had been sitting on my bookshelves—
unopened—
for almost 13 years.

Well, I got a little excited.

Whose card did I miss?

What was written on the inside?

I unsealed the envelope and pulled out the card.

The card was an ordination card—
but it was unsigned—

disappointment!!!
But then I saw a folded piece of paper
stuck in the bottom of the envelope.

Something personal—
I got excited again!!!

I opened up the note and
it was dated May 1st, 2006.

A couple of weeks before my ordination.

My eyes rushed down to the signature line.

It was signed:
In Christ,
Fr. Emory de Gaal.

Fr. Emory de Gaal.
Wow!!!

He was one my favorite professors in the seminary.

I had taken his Mariology course—
I had taken his course on the Holy Spirit.

And Fr. De Gaal is—
without a doubt—
the smartest human being
I have ever been around in my life.

He knew everything.

He knew everything about cars—
their makes and models and engines.

He knew ever about airplanes—
How they flew—their makes and models and engines.

And he knew everything about Christianity and the Church.

Why some obscure council was called—

Why this particular document was
written with these specific words—
And what role it all played in the development
of Christian thought.
And most importantly for me—
Fr. De Gaal knew Jesus.

Even though he had all that knowledge—
He had such a simple faith.

And he was one of the kindest—
and gentlest—
and most charitable people I have ever known.

To me he was the Light of the Christ—
He was the salt of the earth.

To me, he was truly a great person—
a hero even.

And he had written something personal to
me on the occasion of my ordination.

I was really excited.

In exquisite handwriting—
here’s what Fr. De Gaal wrote:

It was so wonderful studying with you
and I thank you for your invaluable contribution.

May you be a constant blessing to others:
the truth and beauty of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Fr. Emory De Gaal

My heart swelled—
My eyes watered.

May you be a constant blessing to others:
The truth and beauty of Jesus Christ.

How am I to be a blessing to others?

By becoming—
Then by showing—
The truth and beauty of Jesus Christ.

See how he gets it!!!

Reading his words took me back 13 years
ago to my ordination. . . .

And it grounded me again.

Reading his words reminded me of
my most basic and most beautiful identity—
not just as a priest but as a Christian.

May you be a constant blessing to others:
The truth and beauty of Jesus Christ.

It caused me reflect on the many times
when I have betrayed my identity.

And it compelled me to do better.

And it gave me a greater hope for my future.

And it made me think about Lent.

A priest friend of mine called the
other day telling me that Lent
was his least favorite liturgical season:
“There’s no joy,” he said

Well, after finding and reading and
thinking about and praying about
Fr. De Gaal’s note:

I told my friend that I loved Lent—
because Lent is like finding a long-lost note
from Fr. De Gaal 13 years after my ordination.

Lent is a time for us to take stock of our lives—
to see if we are living up to our most basic and
most beautiful identity. . . .

We are Christians—
a constant blessing to others:
by becoming and showing
the truth and beauty of Jesus Christ.

We are Sons and Daughters of God—
we were loved into being.

We are the Chosen Ones—
Chosen for a special mission—
To participate in God’s plan for humanity.

What an identity we have!!!

You know if we analyze the temptations of Jesus—
at the root of Satan’s temptations is to undermine
Jesus’ identity as a faithful and obedient Son of God
who was sent into the world with a mission.

Satan is after Jesus’ identity.

Don’t be obedient to the will of your Father—
Don’t be faithful to your mission.

Identity.

And Satan tries to plant a seed of doubt about Jesus’ identity—
So Jesus will react with pride.

“If you are the Son of God . . .
turn these stones into bread.”

“If you are the Son of God . . .
throw yourself down from the temple.”

If Satan goes after Jesus’ identity—
Then He’s going to go after our too.

And for us church goers—
Satan’s temptation is to water down
our identity and our mission.

It’s an ingenious and deadly temptation.

Satan will tempt us to claim less that who we are—
And to reach for less that God has planned for us.

Let me repeat that.
Satan will tempt us to claim less that who we are—
And to reach for less that God has planned for us.
That is to get us in automatic pilot mode—
Feeling satisfied and settled—
Feeling comfortable and complacent.

But that’s a trap.

We are Sons and Daughter of God—
On a mission—
God’s mission.

God always has more for us—
God is always calling us to a greater greatness.

We can see why Lent is so important—
And so wonderful.

It reminds us of who we are—
And where we’ve veered of track—
And the great things God has planned for us.

It give us hope for our future.

That we are to be a constant blessing to others:
the truth and beauty of Jesus Christ.

On my note from Fr. De Gaal—
he also typed a couple of quotes for
me to ponder and pray.

Here’s my favorite one:

Discipleship means to recognize Jesus’ Voice
amidst the jumble of voices the world engulfs us with—
and to follow that Voice.

Put more precisely:
discipleship means,
to entrust one’s self to God’s word,
to place it above the law of money and bread—
And to live according to It. (Pope Benedict)

Satan will always tempt us away from that!!!

Lent is a time for the lies and temptations of
the evil one to be exposed and rejected.

Oh how I love Lent—

It’s like finding an unopened note
which has been sitting in a book
for 13 years
from Fr. Emory De Gaal—
a man who knows Jesus—
reminding me of my most basic and
most beautiful identity.

Happy Lent.

Holy Spirit 03/09-10/2019