Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guadete Sunday: Grandma Markusic. The Father walks in front of us and guides us in our blindness.

blind pitfall

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Gaudete Sunday is my absolute favorite Sunday of the year because it truly is celebrating light coming into the darkness. So the third candle for Advent is lit, the rose-colored vestments are worn. Christmas is almost here. The darkness has almost come to an end.

I was reading about some of the darkest places in the world right now. So Scandinavia is one of the darkest places where it is night for almost the entire day. And yesterday was the Feast of Saint Lucy. And Saint Lucy was always celebrated on the shortest day of the year, the longest night of the year. And Saint Lucy is the Patron Saint of those who are blind and also the Patron Saint of those who need light in their lives.

Now, as I told you, I'm from Cleveland, and Cleveland is usually cloudy and dark. So, actually, last year I broke down and I bought one of those sunlamps, and it worked like a miracle last year. It was a wonderful saving grace. But I sit in front of the sunlamp and I just allow myself to soak it in. One of my priest friends says that I'm solar powered. He claims that I need have the sunlight or I start to, like, wilt away.
We all need the light. And the truth is, spiritually, we're in darkness.

Growing up, there were six kids in my family growing up, three boys, three girls. And my family all still lives in Parma, in the area, and it's great to have them together. But when we were growing up, when I was a teenager, my grandmother came to move in with us. So my grandmother was widowed and she was getting older and she came to move in with us. I loved my Grandma Markusic. It was wonderful to have her live with us. She was a holy woman and a wonderful woman, and very helpful. And one of the things I loved is she would do my laundry. So anytime that I had my laundry done, I would just bring them up and she would fold clothes for me.

Well, as she got older, she began to develop dementia and then she began to develop Alzheimer's, and then she had a stroke and she went blind in one eye, and a couple of months later she had another stroke and she went blind in the other eye and she was completely blind. And from that moment on, it was absolute darkness, and because she kind of struggled with the Alzheimer's and dementia, she was a little confused. She was thinking, "Could somebody please turn the lights on?" And we had to learn to lead her to the dining room, or if she had to go to the bathroom, to the bathroom. And you know, when we first started doing it, she would call out and we would come and we would take her hand, and she was a little reluctant to follow us. And we found out the reason why is that when you are totally blind and you have somebody following here, you don't know what's in front of you.

And so we learned that the best thing to do, actually, was to stand in front of her, to put both of our hands out like this, and to walk in front of her and lead her like this. And she knew that if you were walking in front of her, she wasn't going to run into anything. If there was a ditch, she wasn't going to fall into it, because you are going first. And it was actually a wonderful experience.

I remember many times taking her to the bathroom and she would call, she would say, "Michael," you know, whoever was around, and we would walk over to my grandmother and pick her up and take her by the arms and lead her like this, walk backwards, and she totally trusted us. It was wonderful that she would just walk with us right where she was going through her blindness. And I think it's a wonderful image.

So today on Gaudete Sunday, we celebrate the fact we hear John the Baptist say that he is not the light, but he is pointing to the light. And John the Baptist is saying, "Make straight the way the Lord." Make our pathways straight. And I think about that with my grandmother. You know, especially with the Denk household, with six kids, believe me, like, there were booby traps everywhere. There were toys everywhere. There were plenty of things she could have fallen on. But if we were leading her, she could faithfully trust that she was going to get to wherever she wanted to safely.

Now, the truth is, with all of us, we are in spiritual darkness. Because of sin we are all blind. And we're all blind more so than we have any idea. Completely blind. It's dark. Night. We can't get from point A to B without God's help or without getting way off path, or without falling on some obstacles. And the truth is we need Him. We need Jesus to take us by the hand.

But the wonderful thing is he doesn't walk beside us. He doesn't just take our hand and walk beside us. He actually does walk in front of us. He takes us by the hand and he leads us, and he goes first through whatever we're going through in life. So we don't have to worry about anything that we're facing. We don't have to worry about any obstacles that are in front of us because Jesus goes first, and he leads them through them.

So if you are going through any darkness in your life right now, if you are struggling with anything spiritually heavy, or maybe you're just struggling with the loss of someone you love or with depression or with addiction, or who knows what you are struggling with, we all have our crosses, but Christ is the light and he leads us. He walks through those darknesses first, so that we can ultimately walk with Him without any fear, without any trepidation, because he goes first.

So this week I'll be doing your parish mission. And I'm here tonight at 6:30 to 7:30; Monday, 6:30 to 7:30; and Tuesday, 6:30 to 7:30. So it's just an hour each night. And what I'm going to help you to do is realize that at each and every moment of your lives Christ is there, and all you have to do is reach out your hand and he will lead you through whatever it is you are going through. You don't have to do anything alone. We don't even have to let him walk beside us. He walks ahead of us. So if you are going through any darkness, if you feel distant from the Lord, if you just want to be reconnected with the Lord, this is a wonderful opportunity to do it.

And so I am a younger priest, and I'm kind of into some of the modern technology. And I've been working for a couple of years on developing an app. So I worked for two years, and I finally developed this app. And I was so excited to finish it, I went home and I told my parents, I said, "Mom and Dad, the app is done and it's on the market." And my dad goes, "What's an app?" He had no clue what I was talking about. So how many of you know what an app is? Raise your hand if you do. Okay, good. Most -- great, I think all of you do. Good. So if you don't know, it's on your Smartphone or tablet or device, or anything like that.

But, basically, I've created this app, and it is to help you really allow yourself to be led by Jesus throughout the day, day in and day out, at any time of the day, literally, you can call, you can call Jesus and ask him for advice, and he's going to walk you through it.
If you don't have an app or you don't have a Smartphone, come and bring a notebook and pen. You're still going to love it. And invite anybody that you can to come to it as well. And if you don't know how to do it, how to load the app on your thing, ask your grand kids or your kids, and they will show you how to do it. So I look forward to sharing a wonderful mission.

And part of what I always try to do is always tie it in with music and song and story. And so the song I want to end with today deals with darkness and light. It deals with what it's like to be blind and to have our sight restored. So if service could help me.

I got a ukulele when I was in Hawaii a couple of years ago, and it's become my favorite instrument. So I'm going to entertain you for a little bit with a ukulele. I think you're going to know this song, too. If you are really in the mood, you could even clap along, too. Don't feel like you have to.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.

You know it?

I can see all the obstacles in my way

How about some clapping?

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies
Look straight ahead, there's nothin' but blue skies.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Sing that.

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

One more time.

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

All right. Don't you feel, don't you feel better after that song? And Jesus does, he wants to be our light in the darkness. And that's what we are celebrating in this season of Advent, especially this Gaudete Sunday. It's going to be a bright sun-shiny day. That's my promise to you, if you come to the mission these next three nights, tonight, Monday night and Tuesday night, that truly, with the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, I will help to bring light into your darkness, and every day of your lives you can reach out and let God lead you through whatever it is you are going through.

So we celebrate this day, this Gaudete Sunday, and we rejoice that the light is overcoming the darkness.

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