Monday, February 15, 2010

6th Sunday - homily

I would like to begin with a demonstration and need three volunteers to help me. I ask two of you to take hold of each end of this long cord (that stretches across the width of the church). Please raise it up as high as you can. Now, third volunteer, please stand near me. I ask all of you to imagine that this line represents our lives. Here at one end to the left is when each of us was brought into the world…when we were conceived. The rest of the line represents our lives on earth and our lives for all eternity. The line goes off to the right, past the volunteer for infinity…

Now, where on the line would we have the third volunteer put his (or her) finger if we were measuring our life on earth in relation to eternity? He would put it right next to where we came into this world! We think our lives are so long here, maybe eighty or ninety years. That is a long time, but in relation to eternity, it is a mere fraction only. It is a very small amount! Now, how we spend this small amount of time determines how we will spend all of eternity…! Whoa. Thank you, volunteers, you may return to your seats.

So, how do we spend this small amount of time? How do we live our lives in order to determine a good eternity? Jesus lays out a blueprint in today’s Gospel: the Beatitudes according to St. Luke. These beatitudes are a little different than we’re used to hearing: “blessed are those who are poor”…and are hungry…and are hated by people. This doesn’t sound like the most attractive blueprint on how to live. It reminds me of the quote from St. Theresa of Avila: “Lord, seeing the way you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few of them!” It’s a tough way to live in order to have a good eternity…to have eternal life. What these beatitudes are really describing is the life of Jesus Christ. He was poor…he was hungry…people hated him.

How do we live in this life? We live like Christ. We live in imitation of Him. With Lent beginning this Wednesday, we have an opportunity to see if we are living in union with Christ. . That’s what Lent is all about: being more like Christ. If we look at our lives and see that we aren’t living like Jesus, we make changes. For example, if we are so focused on being rich, then we try to be more poor. If we trust only in human beings, then we try to trust more in God. The little sacrifices we make should be for us to be more like Christ. We make little sacrifices in order to imitate Christ’s big sacrifice.

There is one event which determines how we live. It is the event about which St. Paul writes in our second reading: the Resurrection. The most fundamental question for any Christian is, ‘do you believe in the Resurrection?’ When people (either here or in the parish) have come to me saying that they don’t know if they believe anymore, the first question I ask them is, ‘do you believe in the Resurrection?’ St Paul makes it very clear that if Christ isn’t raised from the dead, our faith is pointless…it’s like, ‘Go home now. We are still waiting for the Christ’. But, if He is risen, then He has power over all things. The man was dead! He was dead. And, He came back to life…He rose from the dead. No one else has ever risen from the dead. This shows us that He is the Christ…He is the Son of God. Everything He said is true and He has power over all things. He has power over everything you’re struggling with in your life right now, especially sin. He has power over addiction, depression, anger, laziness…even doubt.

The Resurrection is the cause for our hope. It gives us true hope in this life and for the next. Keep in mind that before Christ, there was no real hope for a good eternity. It’s only through His death and resurrection that we have the hope of eternal life. It is the event that gives us hope and joy. We don’t walk around saying, “yeah, He’s risen from the dead (with our heads down)”. We say joyfully, “He is risen!” The Resurrection gives us joy that marks us as Christians. Mother Teresa (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) once said, “we should never be so sad that we lose sight of the Resurrection”. How do we live our lives? We live them in imitation of Jesus Christ filled with hope and joy.

Finally, when we come to the Eucharist, we have the same bold point as with the Resurrection because the Eucharist is the risen Body and Blood of Christ. If the Eucharist is not the risen Body and Blood of Christ, then you should go home now. The Mass would be a sham and your Catholic faith would be pointless. But, Christ is risen from the dead and is truly present in the Eucharist. The Mass, then, is the greatest event in the world! We not only see our Risen Lord, we get to receive Him in Holy Communion.

May the Eucharist give you strength to make a good Lent. May you be filled with courage and generosity in growing closer to Christ. May you all live lives filled with hope and joy that will lead to an eternity of happiness and peace.

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