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by Matthew Kelly
THREE DAYS - The Search for the Boy Messiah
by Father Bob Sherry
We just celebrated another Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. Did you allow it to transform you? And now that Jesus is risen again… what area of your life do you need him to raise up?
It seems everyone has something going on. It seems everyone is grappling with a question or a problem. What’s yours? And what would happen if you turned to Jesus, the lord of the universe, and said, “Please help me. Raise me up from this”?
Sure we can mumble it once, but what if we were to make it a constant plea to God in the moments of the day? Ten times, fifty times, a hundred times a day. The Gospel is full of stories about persistent prayer.
Prayer works. If we really believed it, we would pray more. Sometimes it doesn’t work just as we would like it to, but it always works in mysterious and beautiful ways.
I hope you had a fabulous Easter and that the risen Christ will be invited into your life in a new way.
And as Yeshua looked over his shoulder and gazed south, he imagined mighty Yerushlem. It was about five days away on foot, across a sprawling plain.
— From “Three Days: The Search for the Boy Messiah” by Chris Stepien
He loved to sit on the roof of his mud brick house after dinner. He'd carve small wooden shapes and toys with his knife, whenever he had time. His father had let him hang out on the flat roof, ever since Yeshua helped repair it last year. They used sycamore branches and covered them with clay plaster. Their fix was holding up well, so far.
Almost every time he climbed the ladder, Yeshua had to promise his mother not to sit on the roof ledge. For safety, it was 18 inches high and ran along the perimeter of the home. Standing at his favorite perch, he had a bird's-eye view of the surrounding hillsides. The highest point in his hometown, Nazareth, was 1,300 feet above sea level.
There was a nice breeze that skipped along the rooftops. The hot sun would set in an hour or so. Yeshua welcomed the relief. His skin was a deep, dark brown, even under his shirt, which he carefully took off, rolled up, and set on the ledge. He pulled back his dark, curly hair and cinched up his tunic around his hips to cool off. His rich tan made him look even more muscular. The more wood and stonework he did with his father, the more he looked like him, a seasoned carpenter and mason. But his face clearly resembled his mother's.
Facing north, Yeshua sat down and leaned back against the ledge. He could see snow atop Mount Hermon on the horizon. The Sea of Galilee was about 15 miles to the east. Mount Carmel stood due west, stretching to the Mediterranean Sea. When he faced east, there was Mount Tabor to his right. And as Yeshua looked over his shoulder and gazed south, he imagined mighty Yerushlem. It was about five days away on foot, across a sprawling plain.
He often waved to travelers in the distance, as they walked along the caravan route to and from Egypt. Occasionally, someone would spot him on the roof and wave back. The path wound its way through the hillsides of Nazareth. Yeshua could sling a stone and almost hit the trail from his roof. That's where he saw his first horses. Roman soldiers riding them. Rugged. Muscled. Yet, they were gentle and beautiful animals. Horses were his favorite toys to carve.
Yeshua chewed on an olive pit, while he craftily whittled and smoothed a chunk of sycamore wood with his new blade. He had saved the scrap piece from his father's shop. He was getting really good at making toys. His father, Yosef, had sold a couple recently. But this one was special. It was a gift for his friend, Ezra. They were headed to Yerushlem together for the Passover. How amazing it would be to visit the Temple for the first time. Just thinking about it made him laugh and shout for joy from the rooftop,"Ye-ru-shlem!"
My nephew Kevin recently texted me while he was watching the Chicago Cubs at the team’s spring training camp in Arizona. Kevin and his group of friends have been going to spring training for nearly 20 years. Their perseverance in this annual ritual can’t be due to the Cubs’ seasonal record! But they do it anyway.
Much like Kevin and his friends at spring training, I approach my yearly Lenten observance with optimism and hope. The 40 days of Lent and baseball’s spring training camps overlap not only in time, but also in purpose: to get us ready for the big event.
The baseball season starts on Opening Day; life starts with Easter. This year both were even on the same day. Cubs fans want to see if this will be “the big year.” My test is to see if I had my Best Lent Ever, to determine if I can acquire more “Ws” than “Ls” in the Easter and Ordinary seasons—more graces than sins.
Just like life on the diamond, everyday life is a new game each day. It’s an opportunity to put into practice the basics I trained with: faith, hope, and charity, and prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Having grown up near Chicago, I’m used to the cry, “There’s always next year!” But at my age, I’m running out of innings. So I pray this Lent delivers a great home-run-Easter and a summer of graces. How was your Lent?
A year ago, I attended a class at my parish on The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. As an 85-year-old, I didn’t know if there was anything for me in this series. Boy, was I wrong! The simple changes that called me to believe “I can do this” led me on a journey that changed my life.
I was so excited about this that I bought six copies and gave them to my friends as well as my nephew who had married outside of the Church. Imagine my surprise when I heard from him that both he and his wife were reading the book!
A short time later, his wife had joined the RCIA program and was looking forward to Easter Sunday 2015. They are having their marriage blessed also. All this after more than 23 years of marriage and petitions and prayers.
Our families are so amazed and thankful for this blessing. And the momentum came from the Dynamic Catholic book. I have since sent my nephew the book on prayers for men, Every Man’s Journey. Thank you for publishing these wonderful, inspirational books.
Want to share your story? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Making time for each other isn’t that difficult if you think about how to anchor the time around already established routines at home.
Life is short, and the holidays fly by. Don’t waste this time texting your friends about how crazy your family is making you (even if it’s true). Do your best to be present to them, seek to understand and to love.
Waking up early is a war. It is a battle against the self. You are your enemy. And there is only one way to win the war: Discipline.
When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.