Edward J. Wallace, Chairman
Of dead horses, grace … and guts!
The story is told of nine young soldiers who had received overnight liberty passes from the base where they were stationed. When morning came, not one of the nine was present at roll call. An hour after their absence was noted, the first soldier straggled back onto base. He was immediately taken before his Company Commander.
“I’m sorry to be late, sir,” the soldier said, “but I had a date, lost track of time and missed the last bus to base. I wanted to make it back on time so I took a taxi. About halfway back to base, the cab broke down, so I went to the nearest farm and bought a horse. As I was riding along on the horse, the animal suddenly stumbled to the ground and died. So, I did the last five miles on foot, and here I am.”
Although he was pretty skeptical about the chain of weird excuses, the Company Commander let the young man off with a mild lecture on the virtues of being on time. Well, wouldn’t you know, seven more stragglers reported in, one-by-one, each with the same story: had a date, lost track of time, missed the last bus, took a cab, cab broke down, bought a horse, horse fell dead. Finally, the ninth and last soldier arrived. Now totally exasperated, the Commanding Officer growled, “What happened to you?” The ninth man replied, “Sir, I had a date, lost track of the time, missed the last bus, hired a taxi….” “Wait!” said the officer. “Are you going to tell me that the cab broke down?” “No, Sir,” the soldier replied, “The taxi was fine. The problem was there were about eight or so dead horses on the road so we couldn’t get through.”
God is calling us to life, new life. God is offering us the power to live as complete, joy-filled persons. But, often He can’t get through to us and we cannot hear or follow Him because we clog up the channels of grace with dead horses that prevent us from getting where we need to be: following Jesus. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, tells us that His followers will hear His voice – but, boy – there are so many dead horses out there – that make it so difficult to listen to His voice and then to follow the Good Shepherd.
You know what those dead horses are in your life: Jealousy, greed, pornography, selfishness, pride, etc. It takes God’s grace and our guts to remove them – GRACE AND GUTS! The best remedy for the dead horse syndrome is our being aware of Jesus’ Presence and friendship every day. Learn to see how God is working in our lives and discover Him hidden within the events of daily life. Believe that He is always faithful. He will never abandon you! He gave His life to you on the Cross because of His unconditional love for you.
We have two major resources to meet the obstacles head on: first, the teaching of the Church – learning to recognize the path – the enlightening of our minds. Jesus made a solemn promise that “when the Spirit of truth comes He will lead you to the complete truth.”
A second resource gives us the strength we need to follow that path, even when it is so very difficult. They are the sacraments. Every one of the sacraments is meant to increase God’s grace in our souls. This is especially true of those sacraments that we are encouraged to receive frequently – the Eucharist and confession. Christ’s Body and Blood is nourishment for our souls. Confession strengthens us by healing the wounds of sin and reinforcing our efforts to follow Christ (that’s the guts part!). We need these supernatural helps to confront the dead horses on our life’s journey.
— This is an excerpt of a homily by His Excellency Terry LaValley, Bishop of Ogdensburg, NY.
NB: As Hibernians, we need to follow the teaching of the Church, receive the sacraments and put into practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Pray for and reach out to those less fortunate than we are. Support and pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.