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Try Again

Second Sunday of Easter (A)

My dear encountered couples:

Greg was about 70. Three of his six children had left the church and one of his sons had gone through chemical dependency treatment. Greg had lost his job six months before, and his wife was supporting him and one daughter by giving piano lessons in their home. Greg was very much down on his luck.

One morning at Mass, Greg took part in a shared reflection which replaced the usual homily given by the priest. Harry said, “You know, for many years I thought that God had promised us happiness. I thought that if I remained faithful to the church, prayed, and lived a good moral life, then God would give me happiness. As the years passed, though, I found some happiness but not all I thought would come my way. Our family had lots of struggles. At first, I thought that something was wrong with me, then I began to feel angry with God. One day it struck me that nowhere does Jesus promise us happiness in this life. He does promise us peace. My life has taught me that though many times I might not be happy, it is possible to experience the peace of Christ in those unhappy times. No matter what trials and difficulties we face, we are not alone, we are never alone and just knowing that God is walking beside me brings the peace I need.”

A kindergarten child was waiting nervously at the bus stop for his first ride to school. His feet fidgeted, his head hung low. Inside his stomach was churning. All this was so new, and he wondered what school would be like.

His mother saw what was going on, knelt down right in front of his worried face, and said, “You don't need to worry, everything is going to be all right. You'll enjoy yourself today. It's okay.” She moved beside him and put her arm around him and squeezed him tight. The butterflies inside his stomach began to settle. Even the beginning of a smile could be seen.

God is like that with us. In the gospel, he comes into the upper room and says, “My Peace be with you.” In whatever room we are in today, Christ comes and says, “My Peace be with you.” This peaceful presence of Christ gives us courage during our failures and gives us humility during our successes.

We all have our bad days and then we have our good days. Thomas had one of his bad days on that Sunday he refused to believe that Christ had risen from the dead. In today’s gospel, he had one of his good days because with the help of Christ he believed in the resurrection.

Peter had one of his bad days in the court yard the night before Jesus died. Peter denied our Lord three times. One of his good days came when Jesus trusted Peter enough to make him the first head of the Christian church.

Some of us may remember Jim Marshall the defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings in their big game against San Francisco. Marshall recovered a fumble and ran 66 yards in the wrong direction. But Marshall had his good days when he was selected to play in the All Pro Bowl two years in a row.

We all have our failures but don't let the failure be the end of the road. If it's a school failure, try a bit harder next quarter. If it's a business venture, rethink and make a better decision. If it's a moral problem, remember that God has always promised enough help to put sin aside if we are willing to try.

A teacher was giving her class a test in simple mathematics. The problems were on a work sheet. The students were told to supply the answers. One little boy got off to a bad start. He tried to erase two wrong answers. This smudged the page. He also tore a hole in it. Tears started to fall, causing more smudges. The teacher saw what was happening. With one hand, she picked up the soiled paper. With the other, she put down a clean one. And then with a warm smile, she said, “Try again.”

This is a parable of life. No matter how badly we have failed, the Lord has faith in us. He takes away the old torn and dirty page, and gives us one that is clean and new. Then with a warm smile, the Lord says, “Try again, my peaceful presence is walking beside you.”

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