Saturday, April 17, 2010
FROM MY MOUTH TO YOUR EARS OR FROM MY COMPUTER TO YOUR EYES, MY HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C!
My homily for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year C, for what it's worth!
Introduction: In my previous assignment I was chaplain for a VA hospital that has a spinal cord unit. As you can imagine, when someone suffers a spinal cord injury that takes away their ability to walk or move their arms, this is a devastating experience for the person and their family. When we see the sufferings of others, we wonder how in the world we would do if we experienced the same fate. Some are very bitter and angry at God. There was an African American veteran paralyzed from the neck down, unable to do anything for himself. Yet his faith in God and the grace that God gave him enabled him to exude a joy and serenity that could only come from God. He told me this is only temporary, I’m heading for an eternity of joy with my Jesus! This man loved God despite the unimaginable suffering and anguish he endures. In doing so, he is a very powerful witness to faith in God in horrible circumstances. He ministered to me and fed my faith.
Topic Statement: Loving Jesus even in the most difficult of circumstances is made possible by the grace of God and the resurrection of Christ.
1. Our love for Jesus and the hope of eternal life are the greatest gifts to us in a world that is at times insane with sin, suffering and the culture of abuse and death.
A. The great hope for renewal in the Church that so many people of my generation and older was the Second Vatican Council. It would bring about a new "Pentecost" and "Springtime" for the Church and the world, especially our engagement of the world rather than circling the wagons and avoiding the trends of the secular world. The drunken euphoria that so many Catholics experienced after Vatican II has evolved into the most desperate, painful hangover any drunken binge could create. Instead of a new springtime in the Church, we have seen our Church rocked to her very foundation in the years since Vatican II by the mismanagement of priests by bishops in the Church and the "throwing the baby out with the bath water" after Vatican II that has led to a diminishment of our Catholic discipline and identity, especially as it regards our prayer, our worship and our morality, not to mention our faith. We even thought mortal sin was passe and dared not teach it to our children less it corrupt their self-esteem. The same is true about the truths of purgatory and hell, judgment, retribution and salvation. But in a sense, being rocked to our very foundation is a great grace, because our very foundation is Jesus Christ, no better foundation to be rocked to!
Reflecting on what the Church is now experiencing, all of us, good and bad alike, victim and victimizer alike, Pope Benedict said in an impromptu homily this past Thursday the following:
“We have,” he said, “a certain fear of speaking about eternal life.” “We talk of things that are useful to this world. We show that Christianity can help make the world a better place, but we do not dare say that the end of the world and the goal of Christianity is eternal life—and that the criteria of life in this world come from the goal of eternal life, this we dare not say.” We must rather have the courage, the joy, the great hope that there is eternal life, that eternal life is real life and that from this real life comes the light that illuminates this world as well. “The Holy Father noted that when we look at things this way, penitence is a grace even though of late we have sought to avoid this word too. Now, under the attacks of the world, which speak to us of our sins, we see that to be able to do penance is a grace and we see how necessary it is to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our lives: to recognize one’s sin, to open oneself to forgiveness, to prepare for pardon, to allow oneself to be transformed. The pain of penance, the pain of purification and transformation, this pain is grace because it is renewal, it is the work of divine mercy.”
In these words, Pope Benedict is feeding us, tending to us as the Risen Lord in today’s gospel mandates him to do. To attack our Holy Father is to attack the Church, it is to attack us, it is to attack Christ. Only on the other side of life, will we see how the love of God will reconcile a sinful, war torn, violence filled, hatred producing world. But for those who trust in the Lord, love Him and serve him in this valley of tears, a great day of reward and reconciliation awaits us.
B. Through the interchange between Jesus and Peter, sinners learn of the tender mercies of God whose forgiveness graces the repentant believer with the desire, the determination and the opportunity to make amends and begin anew. Peter’s burden of guilt at having denied Jesus was relieved by Jesus’ invitation to love him and to make that love manifest in caring for Jesus’ own as their pastor/shepherd. Peter who had vehemently denied his discipleship as well as any association with Jesus was given the opportunity to renew his love for Jesus.
2. As members of the Catholic Church, we must recognize that our love for Jesus must be made concrete for all people, that we have a universal ministry especially to the neediest of God’s people.
A. Somebody once observed that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord,” and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning!” True followers of Jesus who love the Lord with all our mind, heart and soul must greet the Lord each morning, eager to bring his message of love, peace and reconciliation to a sinful and broken world. We must love the world in spite of its brokenness. We must reach out to not only the victims of sin, but also the perpetrators of sin. That is the universal ministry of the church, inspired by our love of God in the divine person of Jesus Christ.
B. The point about the universal ministry of the Church is made clear in John’s Gospel today. The specification that 153 species of fish (all that had been identified at that time) were drawn into the one net, hauled by the one boat and none were lost. As his disciples, Jesus’ own were sent to bring salvation to all. Regardless of race or religion, spiritual or physical health or sickness, all should find a home in God’s church when they express true sorrow and repentance and turn to Christ and do penance for the remission of sins.
Conclusion: As we approach the altar of Jesus’ sacrifice and receive his body, blood, soul and divinity as food for our loving and following Jesus in his Catholic Church, may we find strength to carry on despite the suffering, disillusionment and hardships we encounter. In this Mass, God makes us a part of Christ and being one with Christ through the Most Holy Eucharist, we are one with God in heaven and all the angels and saints.