Monday, April 19, 2010

3rd Sunday of Easter - homily

I think I’ve told you all this before, but I worked in a bar the last two years in college. It was a popular bar in Bethesda and I was a door man…a big bouncer! It’s a good thing there weren’t fights there; what would I have done if a brawl broke out? Say, “stop…or I’ll say stop again?”? It was a good job and a lot of fun. But, I got carried away on some nights when I drank while I was working and after the bar closed. Why am I telling you all this? Because my drinking got to the point where I realized it was conflicting with my faith which was starting to grow. I had to make a choice. I decided to become sober; thanks be to God, I have stayed sober for 16 years. The only alcohol I drink now is consecrated wine at Mass.

I’m also telling you this as a follow-up to an op-ed piece which was written recently in the Hatchet. It was written by a GW Catholic on being Catholic in college. Overall, it was very good. The student says that he goes to Mass every Sunday which I commend him on. To write about that and about being proud to be Catholic, especially these days, in your college newspaper is very impressive. It was an inspiring piece in many ways. I don’t think that I’ve met the student but would like to. I would especially like to meet him in a few years because there is a general attitude that he presents that I would like to address with you under the heading of spiritual maturity.

He wrote that he can “party as hardy as anyone” and “hook up” and still be a good Catholic. I understand him to mean partying hard with excessive drinking, one-night stands and making out with random people. If so, this is clearly inconsistent with the teachings of the Church and of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. But, it’s the general attitude I want to address which ties in with one of the points of today’s Gospel. It’s the point of spiritual maturity. Jesus says to Peter, “when you were younger, you used to…go where you wanted…but when you grow old”, you will go “where you do not want to go”. Remember when we were kids, we went wherever we wanted and did whatever we wanted. We just wanted to have fun and did what we wanted. As we’ve gotten older, we realized we can’t always do that. We often have to do what we need to do, what we’re supposed to do instead of doing what we want to do. Spiritual maturity leads to do things we should do…what we’re called to do…what God wants us to do.

When we see a conflict in our lives between living according to the world and living according to Christ, we see that we need to make a choice. In the first reading, the Apostles chose to “obey God rather than men”. Spiritual maturity helps us to choose to obey Christ rather than men…rather than peer pressure…rather than the world. We may not want to go there; I didn’t want to got to sobriety at first. But, I am glad I did because it has allowed me to live the life I truly want to live…to be the person I want to be. It has helped me to become a priest and do what God wants.

Now, as Catholics, this doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun. We can have fun and enjoy a good party; Jesus and the Apostle partied on occasion! But, everything in moderation. When we see that we have gone over the line and there is a conflict, we need to make a choice. If we are spiritually mature, we will choose to do what we’re supposed to do and not just what we want to do. Yes, it is tough and yes it means some form of crucifixion; our old self dies. But, it does bring us into the lives we’re supposed to live and into the love God intends for us. Jesus invites Peter to live this love. It’s a deep love that involves spiritual maturity and death to self.

Finally, I have been so impressed with your spiritual maturity in coming here every Sunday. Two thumbs for choosing to attend Mass while in college. Great job! You inspire me, Meg, and the friends of the Newman Center. I do brag about you all to my friends and family. They are amazed at the choices you make for Christ and the Church. One friend said he is “in awe”. He is in awe at the good God is doing in your lives and your openness to Him. I encourage you to keep on inspiring us. Keep on coming here weekly to the Eucharist where you realize that you need to start your week with Him and all of us. Through the Eucharist, may you hear the invitation from Christ that he gave to Peter. May you hear Him invite you to follow Him and not the world…not men…not peer pressure. May you hear him say to you tonight, “Follow me”.


Anonymous said...

LOL at the new larger font. Fr G's eyes must be feeling the impact of middle age. ;)

Matt Shoemaker said...

yea sorry about that father- i didnt mean to redesign it and give people the wrong impression about you. haha