Sunday, July 15, 2012

15th Sunday - homily

I have been doing some traveling this past month: to the Midwest for a conference, to Georgia for a wedding, and to Florida for vacation with friends.  This week, I'll go to the beach with my family.  So, it's good to be a university chaplain during the summer! I have flown the past three trips and have had good experiences; they have been uneventful which,when flying, is good. I know that some people don't like going through all of the security measures, but they don't bother me. But, I haven't experienced a full pat-down yet.  Although, on the trip home from Florida , the security agent asked to pat down my front side.  I guess he thought I had extra padding or something.  I told him that I had eaten very well and had put on a few extra pounds.  He didn't laugh.  Tough crowd, that TSA!

I thought I had packed pretty well for the three trips.  On one of them, I actually didn't have to check any bags! It was so nice to just have a carry-on bag.  Of course, that means using the small, ziplock bag and getting small containers of shampoo and shaving cream.  But, once I was through the security check-point, it was a breeze! I am amazed at people who travel with carry-ons only; they put me to shame.

I was really put to shame when I read today's Gospel in which the Lord says, "take nothing for the journey".  The Apostles took only a walking stick and a pair of sandals.  I took a whole bag of sticks - my golf clubs! And, extra pairs of shoes, a bunch of clothes, books, etc.  But, they literally took nothing with them for the journey...except the power of God. A modern-day example of this was years ago when I was in Calcutta with the Missionaries of Charity.  One day, two sisters were sent out to foreign countries on mission.  They took only a small box! One little box of their belongings for the rest of their lives.  They literally took nothing for the journey...except the power of God.

The Lord's admonition of taking nothing for the journey applies to the journey of life.  We are called to live simply and not get caught up in materialism and consumerism.  We are to only take what we need and be filled with the things and power of God. But, I would like us to focus on taking nothing for the journey to Heaven.  We won't be able to take a suitcase with us.  We won't take our possessions, our toys, all our stuff.  I think you know this.  So, it's not about what's in our suitcase; it's about what's in our soul-case.  What's in our souls will be what matters to God when we arrive at the Judgment Seat...our final "check-point", if you will.

What should our soul-cases be filled with in order for us to be admitted to Heaven? Not the riches of the world, but as St. Paul writes in our second reading, "the riches of (Christ's) grace".  We first received the riches of Christ's grace at Baptism.  What a rich gift our parents gave us at Baptism! We add to that grace whenever we receive the Eucharist.  Eucharistic grace should be the biggest compartment in our soul-case...receiving the Eucharist every Sunday and weekdays, too, if possible.  It's the best way to get rich with Christ!

If you know your soul-case has some stuff in it that shouldn't be there or need to empty it out all together, come dump it out after Mass with me in Confession.  Confession helps us to remove from our soul-cases what won't pass security at the final check-point.  Better to do it now than when it's too late at the Gates! Also, our soul-cases should be filled with the grace of Confession...probably the second biggest compartment after the grace if the Eucharist. The grace of the sacraments is the best way for us to be lavished by God with the riches of the grace of Christ, with the final one, the Anointing of the Sick, literally sending us on the journey to Heaven.

Other ways to build up grace in our soul-cases is prayer and Adoration, meditating on Scripture, getting to know the saints, especially the Blessed  Mother.  The saints are the richest people on earth! Mary's soul-case was "full of grace".  When we pray the rosary, we reflect on and learn from her example.  Doing charitable works for others, serving the poor, performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are all ways to grow in grace.  Living the virtues, especially chastity - living holiness through our bodies- builds up actual graces within us.

If you're hearing all of this and thinking, 'I'm hardly doing any of this', my advice would be to look at one of these and focus on doing it for the next month.  It's like when people come to me and say they have no prayer life.  I tell them to start small - 5 minutes a day or whatever they will be committed to-  and go from there.

The summary of all of this again comes from St. Paul's exquisite letter to the Ephesians in our second reading: "be holy".  God doesn't say, "be rich" or "be successful".  Those things are good unless they become our gods.  But, He says, "be holy".  All of us are called to be holy. We are all called to be saints.  This doesn't mean we will be canonized one day, but it means we are called to be in Heaven. May you be holy.  May you become rich with the grace of Christ.  May your soul-case be filled with the riches of Christ's grace so that you live out God's plan for your life: admittance into the splendor and majesty of His kingdom forever.

1 comment:

wbdnewton said...

Loved this homily so much I tweeted it ;-)