Born Again

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Dcn. Dick Kostner

Our readings for this Sunday have people who are either sinning or are in trouble with God or life and who are redeemed by either their faith or the faith of the followers of Jesus. Recently I was asked to do a funeral service for someone in our community who had committed suicide. It was a new experience for me which ultimately made me feel the love that God has for each one of us and how important being a part of the family of God has for our mental and physical health an well being. I related this to the great number of people who showed up to give their support to the grieving family, telling them that they were being called by Jesus to represent him in body form, to help family and friends get through and understand they are not alone when a tragedy and confusion occurs.

Life within our world has its ups and downs and we are all dependent upon divine help and a calling to be a spiritual representative of Jesus to help others continue on with experiences which have them feeling confused and alone. Sometimes the problems exist because of our inability to clearly see a situation and to realize that through the love of God and his followers any storm in life can be weathered. I can remember many years ago when my son and I went fishing with a neighbor and his son. While fishing the neighbors son was rambling on and on about all the material “things” a friend of his had and was feeling jealous of that friend. His dad blurted out that we all need to not worry about the gifts others have received if we but look at our own lives and realize all the good that God gives to each and every one of us, and how gifted we all are by those treasures we have already received.

This is what the elder son in today’s Gospel was mad about. He was upset because his father had held a party for his younger brother who had spent his inheritance on foolishness and had come to realize just how good he had it before leaving home. His insight caused the younger son to repent and return “home” to his family. Sometimes we are lost and need to be hit in the head before we come to our senses and realize how good life and God is to us. Many others who witness this get confused with divine forgiveness that allows conversions to occur to others who have experienced this divine love and forgiveness. That’s where the followers of Christ come in as a representative of the Body of Christ.

That is the vocation of those who have been baptized into the family of God. We are the flesh and blood of the living Christ. We are called to preach the gospel of love and forgiveness to those who have blinded by their sins and weaknesses, letting them know that God is waiting for their return home where there will be a great rejoicing by their spiritual family when they turn from their ways and proceed with their vocation of love of God and neighbor. Our Lutheran brothers and sisters call this “Being born again!

This “Being born again,” has its affect on us and how others “see” us. It is not hidden. I can remember when I did a wake service for the father of one of my high school classmates, who came up to be after the service and shook my hand and blurted out, “You scare the hell out of me!” Or a client classmate friend of mine I was doing some legal work for last year who said “I can’t believe you are the same person I went to high school with years ago!

We all have within us a soul that provides us with a hot line to God and his forgiveness and love. All we need to do is pick up the phone and yell “Help!” Help for ourselves or “Help!” for those we witness who need divine intervention and support. And to this assembly of the “Body of Christ” I say: “Welcome Home – And Happy Birthday!

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