733 James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway East - Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35405

Browsing Father Michael Deering's Sunday Homilies

 Everything is loss except for the supreme good of knowing Jesus

Everything is loss except for the supreme good of knowing Jesus
Homily preached by Monsignor Deering
Sunday, April 3, 2022


You may have heard of Death Bed Confessions ... where people, who know they are about to die... take the occasion to confess something very important to them, something that other people may not have known about them.


Well, I had the privilege to hear a Death Bed confession of one of our Parishioners, Elaine Hall, 3 months ago, just days before she died ... on January 4th at age 70.


I first met Elaine Hall, 4 years ago, after she called our Office and asked for a visit.

I discovered that she was baptized in a Protestant Church but had spent the rest of her life looking for God in a whole variety of World Religions,

such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Hare Krishna and others.


As a little Girl, Elaine had read a book about the life of St. Bernadette of Lourdes, France, who 1858, at the age of 14, had 18 apparitions of Blessed Mother, Mary.


Well, reading that book planted a seed of wonder in Elaine’s heart that continued to motivate her all through her life to want to become Catholic. That yearning made it easy for me to instruct her in the Catholic faith over many visits to her apartment ... for she didn’t drive.  Elaine was an avid reader and she read

everything I offered to her ... and she started watching EWTN every day.


The more she prayed and the more she learned ... the more she desired ...

to be able to be one with Jesus in Holy Communion.


And that day finally came ... 2-1/2 years ago ... on Sunday, June 14th, 2019 ...

here at the 11:00 Mass ... that Elaine made a Profession of Faith  ...

received Confirmation in the Catholic Faith ...

and received Jesus in Holy Communion ... for the first time!

It was a most joyful occasion for her!

Incidentally ... that Sunday was the annual Feast of ...

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus!


That day was the first of several times that Elaine would receive the Lord ...

either by being driven here or I would bring the Lord to her at her apartment.


A few days before she died on Jan 4th ... I brought her Holy Communion for the last time

she seemed especially happy.       She exclaimed,

All my life I’ve wanted to be Catholic ... and my dream came true!”


   You know ... I feel that several of Elaine’s dreams came true.

She wanted to find truth ... and she found Jesus ... who is ... the Truth!

She wanted to find the way to Heaven ... and she found Jesus ... who is ... the Way!

She wanted to live on forever ... and she found Jesus ... who is ... Eternal Life.

Wow!        How blessed can you be? ... to have all your dreams come true!


You know, during that last visit with Elaine, I asked her:

          “What was the high point of your life?”


She thought a moment and calmly answered: “Knowing Jesus!”


Wow again!  What an amazing reply!  


She didn’t say being Valedictorian of her 1969 Graduating Class ...

or getting Married ... or living 14 years in California .


No, her answer to what was the high point of her 70 life was ... “Knowing Jesus”!


That has to be the best Death Bed Confession of all time.


I’m sure Jesus was mighty pleased to hear it ... I certainly was!


How about you?     What would you say was the high point of your life?


Would “knowing Jesusbe your answer?


Would “knowing Jesus” be one of your top 10 ... high points of your life?


It sure was for another person ... who we both know about ... St. Paul!


In our Second Reading today, St. Paul declares, “I consider everything as a loss

          because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”


   What kind of good?    The Supreme Good … of knowing Jesus Christ!


You see ... once Paul experienced the love and mercy of Jesus Christ ...

everything else paled in comparison to that …

nothing else in this world could compare with that.


His experience of being loved by Jesus was so great that he said today,

For His sake I have accepted the loss of all things

 and I consider them so much rubbish.”


Yes, Paul began to look at all things as “so much rubbish”

when compared tothe supreme good” … of knowing Jesus Christ!


Do you feel that way?    If you had to choose right now ... between

leaving this life & being with Jesus

or staying here & continuing in your life ...

What would you do?       Which one would you pick?


If you picked ... staying here with your family and your stuff ...

then you did not pick the Supreme Good, who is Jesus.


In fact, if you even had to pause to think about your choicewrong answer!


If you have to reflect on seeing ... your beautiful home or your beautiful cars or your jewelry or even staying with your family or friends … then you’re not seeing

what Paul calls the Supreme Good ... which is knowing Jesus Christ.


If you want to know whether or not you’re ready for Heaven ...

just consider your answer to that question.

If you could leave to see Jesus right now ... would you go?


If you said  “Yes” without any hesitation … then you definitely understand ...

the Supreme Good ... and you’re ready to be with Jesus in Heaven!


Notice too, that Paul’s delight was not just in knowing Jesus

                 but in being united with Jesus!


He says today, “that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”


Paul is definitely speaking of a spiritual union here …

a very intimate union with Jesus Christ!


Jesus referred to this intimate union in His Bread of Life discourse in John 6 ...

where, Jesus said,

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”


This is the union … the spiritual union that Jesus wants to have with us

we in Him … and He in us.


Paul humbly admits that he was journeying toward that goal ... writing today:

“It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect

maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,

since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.”


We have been taken possession of by Christ Jesus ... when we receive Him

in Holy Communion, Jesus is definitely in us.

But the question is … are we in Him?


That’s the spiritual union that He wants: that we remain in Him and He in us!


This particular union was not available in the Old Testament … but it was foretold!



In our First Reading today, the Prophet Isaiah told the people 500 years before Jesus,

“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not;

see, I am doing something new!”


The something new was the coming of God’s Holy Spirit into the world!

The Holy Spirit ... that would change bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood.

The Holy Spirit ... that would wash our souls of sin.


It was only after Jesus atoned for the sins of the world ...

   that He sent His Holy Spirit into the world to dispense God’s grace and mercy.


We’re reminded of this in the Priest’s prayer of Absolution in Confession:

“God the Father of mercies, through the death and Resurrection of His Son

has reconciled the world to Himself

and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.”


Yes, God did something newin justifying those ... who believe in His Son.


Paul confesses this in his Letter today, writing that:

“(he, Paul) did) not have any righteousness of (his) own based on the law,

 but (only) that which (came) through faith in Jesus Christ.” 


Recall that Paul was an anti-Christian.

the Bible tells how he obtained letters from the authorities to go out and bring back Christians so they could be imprisoned or thrown to the lions in the Coliseum .


But Jesus took away his sight and Saul heard Jesus’ voice:

 “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?”


And as soon as he regained  his sight, he was baptized and received the Holy Spirit.

    That transformed him from Saul, jealous Jew ... to Paul, zealous Christian!


Paul could certainly say, “Knowing Jesus” was the highpoint of his life!

It made a big difference in his earthly life and it brought him to Eternal Life!


Similarly in our Gospel account of the Pharisees bringing to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. According to the Old Law; they were to stone her to death.

There was no room for mercy.


But as Jesus stooped and drew a line in the sand, it was like Him saying;

now I’m doing something new!     And Jesus offered her mercy.

He said to the woman, “neither do I condemn you.”


And He added something more. Jesus also said to her, “Go and sin no more.”



In this we see the grace that goes with forgiveness. Jesus not only forgives our sins,

He strengthens us with Supernatural Grace so that we will be better able

to turn away from sin in the future.


Each time we go to Confession, we leave forgiven and strengthened in our efforts

to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.


It’s in Confession that we let go of more than sin

We let go of self

And we let go of the world

and we cling more tightly to Jesus!


What do you thing that woman caught in adultery might have said on her deathbed

if asked: “What was the highpoint of your life?”


I’m quite sure she would have answered as Elaine did ... “Knowing Jesus


Yes, knowing Jesus meant way more to her than anything else ...

She had found ...  the Supreme Good!


What do we have to do to get to Heaven?


We have to have Jesus! We need to have Him in us and we need to be in Him.


Paul says it this way today,

I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,

since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.”


That’s the union here that is necessary for the Eternal union in Heaven.


Paul refers to this many times.

In Galatians 2, he writes, “It is no longer I that live, Christ lives in me!”


In Colossians 2, “As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him.”


To merit the Kingdom of Heaven, we have to have union with Jesus!


As we enter the last 2 weeks of Lent,  recognize the gifts God has given you …

His Son and His Holy Spirit.


Embracing these gifts will bring us union with God in this life  

which will move us to choose not just the Good … but the greater Good.

              which as St. Paul says, “is knowing Christ Jesus, our Lord.”



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