Opportunities Missed

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com

November 20, 2022

Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.

Well, first, I would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Anna Campbell. I would have enjoyed doing something more for you, but hey, I’m not a priest. So how about that?

So today is my last homily and I wanted to kind of wax a little bit nostalgic because I think a lot of times what happens to us in life is that we miss opportunities. And once that opportunity has been missed, you don’t really often get another opportunity to avail yourself of being able to take – advantage of that again that opportunity.

So, like you know, how many of us in our lives have had something that we really, really wanted, right? We wanted to do something really, really badly and then whenever we get that opportunity, we don’t really take full advantage of it. And so, we go back later, and we go, “I wish I had done this.” “I wish I had done that.” But it’s too late. Missed opportunities.

One of the missed opportunities that I go back to quite often is my son. At 15 years of age, he decided that he did not want to be Catholic. Not only did he not want to be Catholic, he did not want to be Christian.

And so, I had this opportunity. I can either try to force him to continue doing what he had been doing all his life, or I could trust that being there available to him, being a model to him that eventually he would come back. And the thing about my son is he’s extremely intelligent, and so I was telling people all this time that if my son ever came back to the Church, he would be a modern day Aquinas or a modern day Augustine. He had such a charismatic way about him.

Spring forward 15 years. This January of this year, he called me up, and he said “Dad,  guess who went to Confession? Guess who received the Eucharist?”

I look back now, and I don’t think I missed that opportunity, honestly. I missed an opportunity to have him experience life in the Church for 15 years, but he came to the Church on his own! He prayed about it in December of last year, and the Holy Spirit led him back to the Church.

So, it could well have been an opportunity missed but I don’t think it was.

In the Gospel today, we hear Herod. He’s saying that “I don’t know who this guy is. Can somebody help me to understand who Jesus is? And what does he mean? Because I know I beheaded John, so he can’t be John. He can’t be one of the great prophets, can he? So, who is he?”

So, he started trying at every opportunity, because he had fantastic conversation with John the Baptist when John was in prison. Herod did not want to kill John. He was tricked into killing John. But the fact is that he was believing that he could have a great conversation with Jesus like he had with John.

And we know that while he tried to meet Jesus, he never got that opportunity until the night that Jesus went through His Passion. And he was brought before Herod. And Herod wanted Jesus to do some parlor trick. “Do something. Amaze me. Impress me. I want to see what it is that you can do.”

And we know that Jesus didn’t “do”. He was not a circus entertainer. He didn’t do parlor tricks, and so Jesus stood before him quiet. And Herod sent Him back to be condemned to death.

That is a missed opportunity.

We never know in our lives when we’re going to be providing them an opportunity to have something great, to enter into my life, or to affect my life.

My son is a great example of what can happen when God chooses to work with us – what could have happened.

If Herod had not asked Jesus to do something magic, if Herod had sat down and talked with Jesus, it would have turned out differently. I’m not saying that Jesus wouldn’t have gone to his death because that was ordained. That’s why Jesus came here. But it could have been that Herod was sending him back to the Romans to have the Romans sentence Him to death.

Pay attention. I don’t care how small it is. I don’t care how innocuous it might be. But everything that is presented to us has an opportunity to turn into something great. And I know this because my son has turned into something great. He does evangelize, and he doesn’t evangelize in the safety of the Church. My son evangelized two more rockers, heavy metal band, people you would not ever think would be interested in God. But he gets responses to his blog all the time saying “Thank you. You’re the reason I have come back to God.”

I am in awe of my son who, for 15 years wandered the desert by himself.

That’s my hero. Just as Jesus is my hero, my son is my hero because he was willing to step into something he didn’t really know but has fallen in love with. And that is our Faith.

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