Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, March 8th, 2020

Second Sunday of Lent– A

Genesis12:1-4a

2 Timothy 1:8b-10

Matthew 17:1-9

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         On this Second Sunday of Lent, the first reading comes to us from the first book of the Bible – the Book of Genesis.  

The Lord is talking to Abram, who was later called Abraham.  Let me read just four verses of that lesson to you, and notice, as I noticed this week, that in every single line we find the words bless or blessing.

And the Lord said to Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you.

“I will make your name great so that you will be a blessing.

“I will bless those who bless you.

“All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.”

God was telling Abraham that he was going to be a vehicle of God’s blessings to lots of people, even to people that Abraham did not know, and to people that did not know Abraham.  God was going to bless His people through Abraham.

And that is our calling too as followers of Jesus.  We are to carry the Lord’s blessings to other people.

And it works in the opposite direction too.  Other people are vehicles of God’s blessing to us.  So how does this suggest that we are to live our lives?  As the Lord promised Abraham:  “I will bless you…so that you will be a blessing” and “I will bless those who bless you.”

         Captain Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot during the Vietnam conflict.  He had flown 75 missions, and then he was gunned down.  As he was bailing out of his plane, his parachute opened and he landed on the ground safely.  But he was soon captured and spent six years in a Communist prison.  After his release, Charlie Plumb began giving lectures about his ordeal and what he had learned.

One day he and his wife were in a restaurant, and a gentleman came over to their table and said to him, “Your name is Plumb, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“And you were a Navy pilot, and used to take off from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, right?”

“Well, yes.”

“And you were shot down?”

“Yes – how did you know that?”

The man standing at the table said, “I know because I packed your parachute.”

Then he added, “And it looks like it worked!”

And Charlie Plumb said, “Yes, it did!  Thanks to you I’m here today.”

         End of story?  Hardly.  Charlie racked his brain trying to picture who that man was as a young sailor.  He could not place him.  But that sailor remembered him.

Charlie wondered how many times he had seen that sailor and never spoken to him.  “And why would I have,” he thought.  “After all, I was a jet pilot and he was just an ordinary sailor.”

Then he began reflecting more deeply.  That sailor must have spent a lot of time down in the bowels of that ship at a long table, carefully folding and packing parachutes every day.  In folding those parachutes, that sailor held the lives of so many people in his hands – people that he would never know or who would never know him.

That made an impact on Charles Plumb.  So he added something to his lectures.  He would turn to his audience and ask, “And who is packing your parachute?”  Meaning:  we don’t do it all by ourselves in life – other people are a blessing to us.  Perhaps people we do not even know.

         And so I ask you today:  Who packed your parachute this past week?  Who made your lunch?  Who did your laundry?  Who fixed your car?  Who picked up your garbage?  Who took your pulse?  Who waited on your table?  Who delivered your mail?  Who packed your parachute this past week?

And, of course, this being the Second Sunday of Lent, we can ask this the other way around:  Whose parachute did you pack this past week, or fail to pack?  For whom were you a blessing, or whom did you fail to bless when you might have?

With all the activity in all our lives we can easily miss the things – the people – that are most important.  Wishing someone a good morning sincerely.  Or saying “please” and “thank you” from the heart.  Noticing something good about somebody and telling them.  Doing something kind for somebody else simply because you could.

As the Lord promised Abraham:  “I will bless you…so that you will be a blessing” and “I will bless those who bless you.”

And what might be a good resolution for this Second Week of Lent?  Simply reflecting upon these questions:  “Who is packing your parachute?”  And, “Whose parachute will you be packing this week?”