Privileged as I am to lead our parish RCIA program, I frequently get the question, "Which Bible should I buy?" After warning them away from truly bad versions, like the New World Translation and paraphrase translations, I quote Dr. Graham: "Buy the one you're going to read."
Television preachers often prove to be charlatans. This should shock nobody because they become just like rock stars and, thinking themselves above it all, eschew accountability, worrying about and preaching against the motes in the eyes of other people while pridefully ignoring the beam their own, all the while raking in cash, living an opulent life-style, and generally suffering from what can only be described as a messiah complex. This phenomenon is nothing new. It even goes back to radio days, as Sinclair Lewis' 1926 novel Elmer Gantry, which was made into an award-winning film in 1960, clearly shows. One of the reasons I admire Billy Graham so much is that he has always taken being accountable seriously. He has, what my Evangelical brothers and sisters call, a true heart for the Lord. Dr. Graham is now ninety-two years-old.
Despite being a very public figure, he has always strived to live a simple and quiet life, taking only a modest salary from his multi-million dollar ministry. With Dr. Graham it is never just a show. Graham even overcame his early anti-Catholic bias. In fact, during the ministry of Cardinal O'Connor, when the Billy Graham Crusade came to New York City there were Catholic counselors waiting to talk to Catholics who turned their life back to Christ at the event. Here's a brief clip from his crusade in Milwaukee in 1979 that is appropriate for addressing the transformation today's Gospel call us to. He reminds us that we need help, that is, God's grace to move from image to likeness.
It is my prayer that you hear from the pulpit or ambo in your church this morning something equally inspiring, challenging, and hope-filled- not the old worn-out saw of I'm okay and you're okay. If you're okay, then why did Jesus have to go to the cross for you?
Dr. Graham has written a number of books. I particularly like his books on the Holy Spirit and on angels. Knowing Jesus, living in fellowship, that is, communion with Him is happiness. In a world in which nothing satisfies our restless hearts, He is our hope and our joy.