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A sermon on Matthew 25:1-13

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Fr. Mike Paraniuk

By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church (Hillsboro)
St. Benignus Catholic Church (Greenfield)
Saint Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church (Peebles)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (West Union)

One of my favorite actors is James Caan who left this mortal orb at 82 in 2022. I first saw him in the psycho movie entitled "Misery."

Caan plays a writer who was injured in a car accident. He was rescued by a psychotic nurse (played by Kathy Bates) who takes him to her remote cabin, where she tortures him the entire movie. She was upset that he killed off her favorite character in his book. 

If you are angry at someone, do not watch this movie. It will give you bad ideas.

I came to admire Caan when I read about his life story. Like many Hollywood actors, he was divorced and remarried many times. In 1981, his sister died of leukemia. James found relief from his grief in drugs, making his life a complete mess. 

He determined to get recovery when he saw the pain his addiction caused his son, Scott. Striving to live a sober life, James stopped making movies for five years. He became Scott's Little League coach where he formed a good relationship with his "dream child." Coaching brought Scott back into his life. Caan once remarked, "My dad never told me he loved me, and I told Scott I loved him every minute."  

James always made sure that his son felt loved.

This loving relationship between father and son was the medicine that healed the pain of hurt in Caan's life from drugs and failed marriages. But Scott was still hurting from the pain caused by his father's foolish choices. Once Scott went to Hollywood to become an actor like his dad, he got addicted to cocaine just like his dad. 

Now it was dad's turn to love his son to healing. After recovering, Scott went on to become a successful actor, co-starring with Alex O'Loughlin in the hit CBS TV remake show "Hawaii Five-O." 

Our Lady of the Hills Catholic family has a connection with this show. The actor who played Officer Pua Kai in 22 episodes is a member of St. Mary Catholic Church in Hillsboro. Shawn Thompsen left the movie business to care for his mom and dad who live in Hillsboro. It takes a lot of love to leave Hawaii for Hillsboro.  

Jesus tells the parable of the 10 ladies who went out to meet the bridegroom at night to light the path to his wedding. The five foolish ladies brought no oil with them, causing their lamps to burn out. They missed the wedding. The oil has a special meaning in this story. It is a symbol for our relationship with God. It is the dedication of your life to know God, to love God, to serve God in this life and be with Him in the next life, symbolized by the wedding. 

My seminary Bible professor always told his students, "God's love is free but it isn't cheap." As Jesus paid the price of His life to purchase you for God, you must be willing the pay the price of your life by giving it to God. Everything you say and do should strive to build a relationship with God. Every day you must ask upon awakening, "God, what can I do to come closer to you? How can I please you this day?" How you answer these questions will determine how well you love and serve God.

Jesus, who is God, realized that even He had to please God. He said in John 8:29, "And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” What are the things that are pleasing to God? I offer these suggestions:

See your relationship with God the way He sees it. He loves you. He proved it by sending Jesus as a lamp to light our way back to God when we were lost in the dark. He sacrificed everything to make this happen. 

We please God when we sacrifice by loving others who are lost in the darkness of fear, loneliness, rejection, sickness, or looked down upon.

Do your best at what God wants you to do. If you are a father, be a good father. If you are a mother, be a good mother. Whatever calling God gives you in life, give your all to it. You have only one shot at it in this life. Don't mess it up.

The most important thing that pleases God is your faith in Him. He is very happy when you trust Him. God knows what is best for you. He desires your happiness. Psalm 34:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

God is pleased by your gratitude for His gifts. Don't tell God you are grateful. Show Him. If you are grateful for His love and mercy, then be loving and merciful. The Bible says, "Each of you has been blessed with one of God's many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So, use your gift well." (1 Peter 4:10.)

As I grow closer to God, I see the signs of His love embedded in the common, ordinary things of life. I remember talking with a seasoned nurse at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. We were observing a mother feeding her little baby. The nurse remarked to me, "You can always tell how caring a mother is by counting the baby puke stains on her shirt." I feel God's care when I see the blood stains on His hands. 

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