Monday, January 25, 2010

3rd Sunday - homily

One of the most common complaints that I’ve heard from young Catholics over the years is that Mass is too boring. Granted, Mass isn’t the funnest event in the world, but it is the best and most beautiful event. Mass blows away any sporting event or movie or any kind of entertainment. It is amazing what happens here. We hear God speaking to us in the readings and then through the eyes of faith witness Him present on the altar in the Eucharist. What we are really witnessing is Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross; we are witnesses to Calvary. Can you imagine being present at Mount Calvary, walking by the Crucifixion, and thinking to yourself, “geez, how boring”. I don’t think so. People who say the Mass is boring don’t know what happens at Mass and how amazing it is.

We can make it more lively here, though. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a priest do this in a homily, but it’s pretty cool. After making a strong point, he says to the congregation, “Can I get an Amen?” So, let’s try that now. Can I get an Amen? Can I get an Amen? Also, if you’ve ever been to a youth conference or rally like the one at Verizon Center on Friday before the March for Life, you’ve probably heard this one. When I say, “God is good”, you say, ”All the time”. When I say, “All the time”, you say, ”God is good”. Let’s try it. God is good, all the time!! All the time, God is good! Can I get an Amen?

Now, the point of this is not just to make the Mass more fun, but it is about doing a little R&R. It’s about being R&R Catholics when we come to Mass. I don’t mean rest and relaxation, I mean respect and response. We should come here with respect and leave with a response. We hear of people like this in the first reading. The people in the Jewish assembly were definitely R&R Jews. They totally respected the Word of God. When the priest read the Word to them, they all listened attentively and tried to understand it. They were completely into it. After hearing the Word, they responded with an “Amen! Amen!” Wouldn’t that be great if that was the experience at the Catholic Mass? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone listened attentively, tried to understand the readings, and responded enthusiastically with “Amen!” I don’t mean just to the readings, but to the prayers. It would be powerful to hear a loud “Amen!” whenever the priest closed each prayer of the Mass…”through Christ our Lord. Amen!”

Today’s Gospel is also a scene involving R&R Jews. Jesus was a R&R Jew and is surrounded by others like him in the synagogue. They hand him the scroll that contained the Scripture from the prophet Isaiah. Jesus was a great teacher of the Scripture, so they were hoping that he would illuminate the prophecy for them. Boy, did he! He said, ”today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing”. The Jews believe that Isaiah and all the prophets prophesied about the Messiah, the Christ. Jesus is basically saying that Isaiah is prophesying about Him! For these R&R Jews who completely respected the Scripture, this provoked a strong response, and I don’t think it was, “Amen!”. Many of them didn’t believe Jesus and took great offense at him. They would ultimately call him a liar and a blasphemer and kill him. There was another strong response to Christ’s huge claim…and it was Amen! It probably wasn’t an Amen in the synagogue that day, but it was in their lives. Many people believed in him, followed him, suffered for him, and died for him.

We are called to have a strong response, too. We are called to say, “Amen!” to the claim that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament….that He is the Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the Old Law. The Old Testament points to Christ. It is so powerful when we hear parts of the Old Testament speak specifically to the person of Christ (indirectly) and to the events of his life…written hundreds of years before they happen. When we come to Mass, it is our job to listen attentively and learn about Christ in the Old Testament as well as the New. We are called to respect the Word of God and then, with the help of the Eucharist, to respond to it. Basically, we leave here and live lives that say “Amen” to what we have heard. This is what it means to be a R&R Catholic.

Finally, there are some here tonight who are preparing to become R&R Catholics. They respect the Word of God and are attentive to what He is saying to them. They are now responding by preparing for the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation in becoming full members of the Church which is the Body of Christ on Earth, as St Paul tells us in the second reading. It is so impressive and inspiring to see college students actively choose to be R&R Catholics. May all of you here tonight take courage and not be afraid to respect and respond to the Word of God, which is Christ. May you be attentive to Christ and respond to Him with lives that say, “Amen! I believe!”

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