By Laurie Hansen Cardona
Look to the future with a sense of hope, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, OK, told chaplains in his homily during a celebration of the Eucharist and remembrance of deceased NACC Members.
Too many people hold onto the past or live for the future,
Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, OK, told
chaplains during a homily at the NACC National Conf-
erence in Milwaukee. Archbishop Coakley is episcopal
liaison to the NACC. (Photo by Laurie Hansen Cardona)
“This (hope) is perhaps the best gift we can bring to those we are called to serve,” said the archbishop, who is episcopal liaison to the NACC. However, he said, there has to be a reconciling presence “deep within our hearts before we can share it with others.”
Archbishop Coakley told the chaplains that the readings of the day – from the Acts of the Apostles and from John’s Gospel – seem as though they are the final act of a play or the final argument to a jury.
St. Paul wrote this letter when he was winding up his ministry in Ephesus, the archbishop said. While he knew suffering awaited him, Paul looked back over his life with a profound sense of peace, the archbishop said. He had no regrets. He had proclaimed the Gospel and completed the work the Lord had asked of him, Archbishop Coakley said.
In John’s Gospel, there is a “beautiful exchange between Jesus and his beloved Abba,” he recalled. Jesus realized that his hour had come, and that he had completed the work his Father had given him. He had made his father known. Too many people hold onto the past or live for the future, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, OK, told chaplains during a homily at the NACC National Conference in Milwaukee. Archbishop Coakley is episcopal liaison to the NACC. (Photo by Laurie Hansen Cardona)
Archbishop Coakley pointed out that these readings offered prior to Pentecost recall the coming of the Holy Spirit “to energize the church to continue to carry on the work of Jesus’ healing and reconciling mission and ministry.” He noted that chaplains carry on this work as well by attending to the suffering of “the least of our brothers and sisters” and being with them “in their moments of vulnerability, helping them, ministering to them, allowing them to hear good news, perhaps helping them to come to their own sense of finality and fruition of life lived, bringing peace and hope.”
Chaplains themselves and those they serve, the prelate said, “may not experience the completeness we hear about in our readings today.”
“We are living our lives for tomorrow, for the future. Tomorrow I will seek reconciliation with my spouse, my co-workers, with my church, with whomever. Tomorrow I would like to start to pray. Tomorrow, I’m going to … whatever. We know the script; it’s part of the running narrative in many of our lives,” he said.
Or sometimes, he declared, “we lack that completeness or wholeness or peace because we’re living in the past, we’re living in yesterday. We continue to rehearse unfinished business, perhaps nursing old hurts in our lives. Holding onto a past, living for a future.”
But, he said, “the Lord is present to us right here and right now.
“The Lord is present to us in this moment, today, here, now, in this place and every day as our life unfolds…. The love is offered to us now so that our hearts might be transformed and we might be more of a reconciling presence in the midst of our church, our world, our communities, our homes, our families.”
Learning to live in the present moment and to receive the grace the Lord desires for us in order to do so isn’t easy, he said.
“Learning to live with this kind of artfulness, this kind of gracefulness, allows us to come to a point in our lives where, like St. Paul, like Jesus, we can look back and see it’s all of a piece, our past will be reconciled, our relationships will be healed, we will have no regrets,” he said. “If there are regrets in our hearts, then it is here and now we are called to bring those past hurts to Jesus to experience his healing and his reconciliation,” he said.
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