I was folding my laundry
and I came across these T-shirts.
Look at this “Smiles to Miles” 2017.
This one’s from the Iron Pony. Do you know what the Iron Pony is?
It’s a famous motorcycle shop up in Columbus, OH. It’s a man thing.
Here’s one made by Under-armor. I use it when I change the oil in my pop-up camper.
Hoxworth Blood Center…they sometimes give away T-shirts when you donate blood.
And look at this…this one’s from 1993. It’s 24 years old. Diocese of Covington Youth Ministry trip to Denver, CO to see Saint Pope John Paul II.
What do you know. I can play a game with these…why not?
(sing) “One of these things in not like the other. (5 1 3 5 4 5 2)
Which one is different, do you know. (5 7 2 4 3 2 1)
Can you tell which thing is not like the others. (5 5 7 2 2 2 2 3 4 2)
I’ll tell you if it is so.” 5 / 5 7 2 3 2 1)
Who sang this song? Big Bird on Sesame Street.
He’s famous, you know.
Can you tell me how tall Big Bird is? 8’ 2”
What type of bird is Big Bird? a canary
Big Bird has a teddy bear. Its name is “Radar”.
Anyway, back to this song.
Nobody sings it like Big Bird. People have tried…but it’s just not the same.
There’s one person you never, ever want to hear sing this song.
Not because He doesn’t sing well. Not because he messes up the words.
It’s God. You never want to hear God singing this song,
especially if he is looking at you.
When we knock on heaven’s door, I hope God welcomes all of us and says
“Come on in.”
Before he lets us in, however, he’s going to look at us.
He’s going to look at what we’re wearing.
At that moment, he might just start singing Big Bird’s song.
That’s a baaaaaaaaaad sign. We don’t want this to happen.
My T-shirts…which one is different?
One doesn’t have writing on it. Okay.
But the one that is most different is this one; the Under-armor T-shirt.
Why? because its dirty, grimy. I use it to change the oil in my pop-up camper.
I lay on the ground in all the dirt and oil.
When we knock on heaven’s door, before God says “Come on in”
He’s going to look at what we’re wearing.
Those who enter heaven have clothed themselves with the garments of Salvation.
They have clothed themselves with righteousness
and these clothes shine bright as the sun.
Heavenly clothes are radiant white.
If God sees that we’re wearing something dirty as we stand at the door
He’s going to start singing Big Bird’s Song.
We don’t want this to happen. I pray it doesn’t happen to any of us.
Dirty clothes are not allowed in heaven.
If we’re wearing dirty clothes when we knock on heaven’s door
God’s going to say to us “you’re not welcome here.”
And He’s going to have tears in his eyes
because he has to turn us away.
God loves us. He’s waiting for us to come to Him.
He wants us to be with Him forever.
Be even God can’t break the rules.
And the rules say “nothing unclean can enter heaven”.
Some people think that when they knock on heaven’s door
God will accept them as they are.
They are mistaken. They have been taken in by the counsel of the wicked.
It will be a very sad day for them when God sings Big Bird’s song
and then says “you can’t come in.”
Yes God loves us for who we are. But he doesn’t love our sin.
He abhors our sin.
And what does His son Jesus tell us all of our lives?: “get rid of your sins”.
Clothe yourselves instead with goodness and truth and love and beauty.
No body’s perfect. Everybody sins. We make mistakes. We make bad choices.
Sometimes words come out of our mouth
before they get a chance to be stopped by our hearts.
We don’t have to live always burdened by our sins.
Jesus gave us the very thing that washes us clean of sin:
the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession. Penance.
Soap will only get dirt our of our clothes through the process of washing.
The key word here is process.
Jesus said to his apostles: “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them”.
The apostles passed their authority on to others.
Fr. Keene, Fr. Quill, and myself….
we have been given the authority rooted in Jesus Christ, to forgive your sins.
If you see me, or Fr. Keene, or Fr. Quill in Kroger’s,
and you need to go to confession
you just come right up and ask.
You can be washed clean right then and there.
We’ll hear your confession and give you absolution right there in the produce section,
or in the deli department, even in frozen foods.
Or you can just come when confessions are scheduled.
Whatever is keeping you from going to confession: get over it.
It’s an obstacle to your salvation.
I had a very unpleasant experience when I was in the 5th grade.
We were going to confession as a class. This was in St. Therese Church. If you’ve been there, if you’ve been to confession there, the only thing separating the penitent from the body of the church is a heavy drape.
The class was sitting about 6-8 pews from the confessional.
For whatever reason I felt convicted to confess a certain sin. It was a sexual sin.
I went into the box, knelt down, went through the “…Bless me Father for I have sinned….”
and then told the priest what I did.
This priest exploded with anger. He blew a gasket….
started yelling at me from the top of his lungs.
I was so upset by the priest’s response to my honesty and sincerity
that I walked out…left the confessional.
I pulled back the curtain and every single one of my classmates was looking at me.
I started crying…and started running. I didn’t stop until I got home.
Years later when I asked my mother about this incident she told me
“…all I remember is that you came running home from school one day, crying,
and you said something about confession. That’s all I could get out of you.”
After the 8th grade I didn’t darken the threshold of a confessional until I was 27 years old…
until I was in my 3rd year of seminary training.
Two reasons got me back into the confessional.
1.) I felt guilty and felt hypocritical that I wasn’t receiving the Sacrament myself
and people would be coming to me to go to confession in a few years;
and 2.) I was forced to. I was in seminary for 5 years.
At the end of my 3rd year, my academic advisor said to me...
“I’m recommending to the school that you not return next year.”
He said “you have some inner problems. I don’t know what they are…
but you can’t continue your studies unless you get some help and deal with them.”
Oh, I had a problem.
Something inside me was not just in a snit, something inside of me was in a fiery rage.
I got the help I needed. That’s why I’m here today.
If something is keeping you out of the confessional…get the help you need.
I know, I’ve been there. And I’ve heard stories of other things that happened during confession
that never should have happened.
Get the help you need.
First and foremost, ask God to help you confront and overcome the obstacle.
Ask the Blessed Mother to be at you side. Your very salvation is at stake.
It would be much better for your loved ones, who are now in heaven waiting for you..
it would be better for them to hear
“I got the help I needed. That’s why I’m here today” from you as you join them in paradise….
This would be much better than you hearing God sing the Big Bird song.
No one wants to hear that song as they knock on heaven’s door; no one!
As far as this concerns me,
I am going to start carrying in my shirt pocket
some of the prayers that I ask people to say for their penance.
Usually on a yellow card but sometimes white.
I will do this to remind myself that as a priest,
part of my job is to help others do their laundry…their spiritual laundry.
I will do this to remind you that as a member of the Catholic Church,
an essential part of your getting into heaven
is to make sure your laundry is done and up to date,
...to make sure your sins are washed away
before that great day when you knock on heaven’s door.
I pray, you will not hear God break into song….singing Big Bird’s song anyway.
(sing) “One of these things in not like the other. Which one is different, do you know.
Can you tell which thing is not like the others. I’ll tell you if it is so.”
Today’s Prayer: “O Lord, life on this earth can get pretty messy. All of us get our clothes dirty. With an outpouring of Your grace, help us to submit our sin to the power and love of Jesus Your Son. Give us what we need to overcome any and all obstacles that will keep us out of heaven. Bless us with a faith that will inspire us to do our spiritual laundry in the present, so that we will hear welcoming words when we knock on heaven’s door: “Come in and join the celebration of peace and joy that lasts forever. Amen!”
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I was folding my laundry