25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sept 21, 2014)
PS 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Phil 1:20C-24, 27A
With my new job, I have a little over an hour commute to my office. This gives me a lot of time to pray, meditate and listen to motivational CD’s. I’ve listened to one CD over and over again about finding one’s purpose in life. I wanted to share with you some of the thoughts and ideas that I’ve encountered on my recent commutes and how it applies to the Christian life.
First of all, I want you to know that every single one of you has a God-given purpose. None of you are an accident. God made you with a purpose from the day you were created by Him. He didn’t forget about you the day he handed out purposes. He didn’t say, “Oh, I don’t know. I think I’ll just let this one go down there and breathe.”
The problem is that most people don’t live out their purpose. How come? “Things” gets in the way and we’re too busy putting out the fires of life everywhere instead of living our purpose. We all have issues that we’re dealing with. Death of a loved one, finances, divorce, guilt…this stuff blurs our vision so we end up off purpose. Pretty soon our whole life is about dealing with these issues and we get nowhere fast.
You don’t have to raise your hands, but how many of you have lost a loved one…been lied to…been cheated…have experienced financial stress…felt anger or hurt…or done something dumb? I guarantee that if you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone. Since we have all dealt with these things, we have to stop allowing this stuff to rule our lives. Otherwise NOBODY will live out their purpose.
People who stay on purpose deal with these same struggles as well. The difference is that they don’t let their struggles and the things they did wrong define them. You see, problems can and will happen. And when they do happen, we can’t just stay in bed, pull up the covers and give up. That is why we must know our purpose and live it to the fullest – 100%! Otherwise, if you just live for problems, then you just live to not get hurt…to not get cheated again…this person lied to me so I’m never going to take a chance again so I can avoid being let down. You just end up pulling into the harbor and play it safe. There’s a saying that goes, “A ship in the harbor is safe, it won’t sink…but that’s not what a ship was built to do.” You weren’t built to sit in a harbor to just take up space. You were built with a purpose!
So today is your lucky day. You are in the right place at the right time. Today I’m going to tell you your purpose. It actually comes from St. Paul in today’s reading from Philippians. Paul said, “For to me life is Christ.” So what’s your purpose? Just like St. Paul, YOU WERE BORN FOR CHRIST! It’s that simple. That is your purpose. Now, so that it gets ingrained into your brain, I want you to repeat after me, “I AM BORN FOR CHRIST.” Again, “I AM BORN FOR CHRIST.” How does that feel? A little weird maybe? I know there’s at least one person out there that’s thinking, “That was just silly, why did we have to repeat that out loud?!?!” Well it’s a lot less silly than the other labels you’ve called yourself like: I am broke…I am divorced…I am addicted…I am nobody. Those are the wrong labels. The right label is, “I AM BORN FOR CHRIST.”
It is believed that St. Paul wrote the passage we heard today when he was arrested and facing execution for preaching the Gospel. He very well could have given up. He could have said, “Jesus, who’s that?” Or he could have curled up in the corner of the prison and shut down. But no, he was so focused on his purpose that he kept preaching from the jail cell. He knew that no matter what, life or death, both meant Christ. Both required sacrifice and commitment. So he encouraged people from prison to live out their purpose by telling them to “conduct themselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
St. Paul did not allow his circumstances, being in jail and facing execution, to define him. We all get to make that same choice today. I don’t deny the circumstances we face; I’m just asking you to not let them define you. God did not put you here to get stuck in circumstances. People will always have hurts, we will always face opposition. But circumstances can’t rob you of your purpose…of who you are. We have way too many people that are stuck in the harbor instead of being out in open water…
There’s a story that goes, two stonecutters were working when a man approached them and asked, “What are you doing?” The one man said, “I’m cutting blocks.” The other man said, “I’m making material to build a Cathedral.” What’s the difference? Purpose. The one stonecutter was just going through the motions of his daily routine. The other saw the bigger picture and how he fits into it. You are part of God’s big picture. You were born to fulfill your purpose from the moment God conceived the idea of you. That is your function…and now you get to choose if you are going to live it out…
So let’s get practical. What does being “Born For Christ” look like? It means following His teachings, talking to Him on a daily basis in prayer, treating others with respect, reading His book (it’s called the Bible!), helping others who are less fortunate, and being a positive role model for others.
We are all God’s people. Some just are having a little more trouble than others trying to figure out their purpose in life.
But not us!
We are now going to live like Catholics who have been born for Christ. We are going to work to build up His kingdom on earth. We aren’t going to be like the workers in today’s Gospel who complained about who worked longer hours and should have been paid more. No…we are going to do our part to give everything we have to the King and let Him sort it out in the end.
I’ll say it one last time – YOU WERE BORN FOR CHRIST. I say this with confidence and conviction because Christ was born to die for you. If you ever want a good visual of what being “on purpose” looks like…just look at a crucifix. His whole purpose was to die for your sins and give you the restored hope of heaven.
The nails didn’t hold Him to the cross…it was love.
Now it’s your turn.
It’s your turn to show Him the same love He showed you.
You know your purpose.
Now it’s time to get out of the harbor and live it…
(Special thanks to Keith Maule of Integrity Management for being the inspiration for the majority of this homily)