In today’s gospel, we read these words:
Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life.
Picture the scene in your mind.
Picture them leaving:
They go back to their old jobs.
Okay. Fair enough.
Sometimes folks disagree and part ways.
But let’s not stop here.
Let’s play this out.
Fast forward from this scene to a year or two down the road.
Let’s say that, within a year or so from turning aside and going their own way,
news of Jesus’ execution
reaches their town,
the field they’re plowing;
their boat dock,
their tax office.
What’s their reaction?
How do they react to the news
that this preacher they once followed
ended up tortured and executed on a cross?
No doubt, they breathe a sigh of relief, right?
That could have been them on the cross!!
So, they breathe a sigh of relief, shake their heads and get back to work.
Or do they?
Do they feel only relief? Or do they also feel a tinge of regret?
Yes, they escaped the coming persecution.
But would they escape the memory…
the memory of having once been close friends
with Jesus of Nazareth?
Has this sort of thing ever happened to you?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where
you heard news, terrible news, about someone you once knew as friend.
Let’s say you stumble across the news on Facebook
or a buddy mentions it to you, out on the bass boat or the golf course,
“Hey, did you hear what happened to So-and-So…?”
And it hits you.
This person you once knew as a friend…is dead.
What do you do in a moment like that?
Well, I imagine you look away.
You let the reality sets in.
You remember a time
when you texted each other every day.
Heck, you were the godparent of one the kids.
But then there was an argument
Or a disagreement.
Or maybe they just moved away… and you lost touch.
Hey, life happens.
But now your friend, your former friend is gone.
It hits you. It hits you hard.
And you begin to wonder…
you wonder if you ever crossed your friend’s mind
the way he crossed yours…
You wonder if, as his time drew close,
and he reviewed his life,
did the memory of your friendship cross his mind?
Did he remember your name?
Now, let’s take this one step further:
On the day that Christ died,
is it possible that He thought of you?
In his infinite knowledge as God,
did He remember the day
when you welcomed him into your home
and made him an important part of your life?
Lately, the two of you haven’t talked much.
You’ve lost touch.
Sure, you might still go to church…
but, in your heart of hearts, you walked away a long time ago.
No big deal.
Life moves on.
And so do you.
So you shove the memory of your friendship with the Son of God
back into the drawer, some mental drawer,
next to a Bible that you no longer read.
A Bible that, if you did open it, would remind you that
though the mountains may fall,
and the hills turn to dust,
God will never forget you.
That dusty Bible where it is written in the book of Psalms that
if you were to fly to the point of the sunrise,
if you were to flee to the furthest limit of the sea…,
if you were to ask the darkness to cover you
and the deepest night to hide you…
even there He would find you.
The Bible in which God says,
“I love you…with an everlasting love.”
The Bible in which God says,
“Look, here on the palm of my hand,
I have carved your name.”
Yes, you can close that drawer.
Lots of people do.
You can leave the Bible behind
along with your First Communion rosary.
Close that drawer.
Slam it shut.
Life moves on and so do you.
But not your Savior!
He does not move on.
He does not forget.
On the day he died,
He opened his hand to the nail.
He opened his hand…and He saw your name.
There, on his hand,
on the palm of His hand, your name.
He saw your name.
At the moment He died,
He remembered your name…He whispered your name.