Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – APRIL 27, 2013. The readings for today can be found at As always thanks for reading!
Fr. Jim

“What do you want to be?”

It’s a question that comes to all of us in different forms and ways throughout life, “What do you want to be when you grow up” – “what do you want to be when you get out of college” “what do you want to be in this company, in this business, in this industry.” All good and important questions for us to ask ourselves throughout life to help us focus on our dreams, our goals and to give us the tools to help us pursue them.

A few months ago Curtis Martin, the President of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) at their national conference for College Students posed a variation of that question: He asked what do you want to be and gave two options. Do you want to be a thermometer or a thermostat? Do we simply want to get a “read” on things; “fit in” not rock the boat, not make any waves… simply take the temperature of the room like a thermometer and adjust ourselves to the environment were in? Or do we want to affect change, be the change… Do we want to go into a place and bring something to that place that will change it…that will make it different because of us — like raising the heat – being a thermostat.

A vast majority of people throughout and in many aspects of their lives probably fall into the thermometer category. That’s how stores like Abercrombie and Fitch or Macys stay in business. They are professional thermostats. They set a fashion trend and millions of young people around the world throw down $70 for a pair of jeans. Steve Jobs has been deceased 2 years now and how we communicate, and just think about it, how we purchase and listen to music has been forever changed – and now how we purchase and read books has been altered by this thermostat as well. Those technological advances are examples that are great. Don’t mind fitting in and being exposed to these changes. We need creative people to share their gifts and talents that we can all benefit from. There’s no way I could have ever imagined 20 years ago when I was in college how different thermostats would’ve changed the world so much that my VHS tapes, CD’s are becoming like the vinyl records and 8 tracks that my parents had…

The problem is though, we can fall into the false belief that is our role throughout all aspects of life – to be simply thermostats and let life continue to re-direct us. To let others, to let the culture, to let the media, to let all these outside forces set the temperature on everything. We see countless examples of that around us… We hear buzz words like “Diversity” “Inclusion” “Tolerance” “Equality” terms that sound really great and in their most pure definition should be things that guide each and everyone of us. But the reality is that they carry some expectations that if you don’t agree with the local thermostat – get your thermometer out of here. And it can be scary to defend yourself, your faith and your beliefs with those types of attitudes and forces coming down on you. Just a couple of weeks ago, students at George Washington University tried to have the Catholic Priest thrown off campus and the Catholic group as well because they were labeled “anti-Gay” for not supporting same-sex marriage. One of the most horrific trials in a US court room that has been going on for over 6 weeks, the trial of an abortionist named Dr. Gosnell, who killed babies who were born… while there’s trials and cases that we know the names of witnesses and details of the cases years later (OJ Simpson? Ted Bundy?) there’s been scant coverage of the trial. There’s some very influential thermostats who have their agenda and are very clearly setting the tone.

Do we just go along? Do we become defeatist and say they’re too influential, too powerful, too well-connected” that we can’t do anything to stop it or change it?

Jesus in today’s Gospel is pretty clear about what he wants us to be. He wants us to be thermostats – and not just to change the temperature, but to set the world on fire. Not in the literal sense… (Don’t misquote me and get me on some watch list) – But spiritually. He is clear about who he wants us to be – His Disciples . And He is clear about how. How do we change the campus? How do we change our communities? How do we change the culture … How do we change the world?

As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

Yes, we are to imitate Jesus Christ. And that has to be a clear decisive choice. It’s interesting because at the very beginning of the passage we heard – “when Judas had left them”- that’s not simply to provide historical or biblical context – that’s a telling line. Judas was indeed going to be a diabolical thermostat that would set in motion some pretty horrific things that were going to change things pretty severely. To the point that it would seem to many, especially those closest to Jesus, the horrendous end to their hopes and dreams. But Jesus’ thermostat, infused with the fire of God’s Love, with the Fire of the Holy Spirit would not leave Jesus dead in a cold grave. The unprecedented… the impossible… the never before experienced Resurrection from the Grave of Jesus Christ transforms everything. And shows us the tremendous power that can be unleashed when we follow His loving example, and let that inspire our choices whether to be a temperature or to “raise the heat” ourselves. Which the apostles demonstrated throughout the early Church. Going from somewhat scared followers, timid thermometers, to thermostats bringing Christ to the ends of the Earth.

What gives me great Hope – is seeing how some of our young people have already started to do that. In some significant ways… In ways that were difficult, painful at times… In ways that their peers, their faculty and maybe even some of their family and friends might not have always it, they did it. I’m just thinking of a few stories I know about some of the students I work with:

– One young aspiring actress passed on a role in a play that she was being cast in because it was vulgar and insulting to her as a person and as a Christian. It might not have appeared to matter as people dismissed you and laughed at her and told her that “she had better grow up if she wanted to make it in this business.” That significant act was a way she lovingly bore witness to who she was as a person, whose she was as a disciple and gently left a memory that no doubt unsettled those who were easily participating in things that are anything but beautiful, inspiring which is what the arts are truly meant for.

– Several students gave up time over summer or spring break, time when many of your peers save up money to blow as they get drunk, get stoned, and do a whole host of other things – they fundraised, they gave their time and service to a mission trip. And more than likely it didn’t even go the way they planned or expected. But in that they experienced the love and presence of Christ in a way they’ve never have, that has changed their vision.

-When more than a few students recognized the double standard, the hypocrisy of the University with it’s anti-bullying, “respect for others”; zero tolerance against any and all forms of bias do nothing in the face of these actions. These students reported the fact that their professors made very untrue, unacceptable attacks on the Catholic Church and they stood up, they refused to be bullied, they reported it, and some took a lower grade than they deserved (others had to deal with wrecking their schedules as they were transferred into another class)

Yes there’s many, varied ways that come to mind and touch my heart and inspire me as I see these young people on a sometimes very cold campus, have warmed it becoming thermostats, changing the temperature around them by their being the Light of Christ. Affecting change not through complaining, not through destructive ways – but in loving, sincere, genuine gestures and actions.

May each of us remember that call, that mission to do the same in our respective lives, living out our particular calls and vocations, recognizing this mission is the same in the Church, in the home, in the school or in the workplace. To know that we’ve heard and experienced the Love of Christ… To recognize that we need to be that Love. Knowing that’s not easy, that it’s often not popular or appreciated (in fact it’s often rejected and ridiculed) – but knowing that He never abandons us, He never leaves us, and He never will – no matter where we go, or where the Spirit leads you.

And as we listen to Him, as we let Him work through us in this wonderful life He has given us – in the end, we might not get a particular part, or a specific job we had hoped for – but He will lead us. He will guide us to be that thermostat, that disciple who will change the corners of the world he Has placed us in. And even more, He will bring you the truest joy, truest fulfillment – the very meaning of our life.