Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Homily - "Expect to be WOWed by God"

Last week, a GW student posted the following message on Facebook: “Something that actually made me proud of GW: a student wearing a green GW Catholics shirt went out of his way to buy a meal for a homeless woman and her baby outside of Ivory instead of giving her money.  Just wanted to say you’re awesome :)”.  Wow!  How cool is that.  That’s what we try to do…not to be recognized or thanked…just try to do the right thing.  We try to present “religion that is pure and undefiled” as St. James writes in today’s second reading.  It sounds as if the young woman had an experience of religion that is pure and undefiled; she didn’t have to mention that the student was wearing a GW Catholics shirt.  We try to give people an experience with the Catholic religion that is pure…maybe it is new for them.  We try to present our religion in its purest form. The way we do that is to present Christ.  It was really Christ who the student saw helping the woman and her baby. 

We had our Opening BBQ today.  Hundreds of students came out for Chipotle burritos that are pure and, I mean, religion that is pure and undefiled.  We do a lot of fun events, again to present the Catholic religion in ways that people haven’t seen.  We try to meet students where they are…we often meet at free food!  The BBQ is not just about free food, it’s about inviting people to know Christ.  Two of our leaders on our Eboard stumbled upon our BBQ the past two years.  They didn’t know we were even here when they saw people walking through campus with Chipotle burritos.  ‘Where’d you get those?’, they asked.  ‘Newman Center’ was the response.  They came to us and, the next thing we know, they have become very active in our community.  Now, they are presenting Christ to other students.  Wow!  Expect to be WOWed by God this year.

God has WOWed us with other events like our freshmen retreat.  We will go white-water rafting in a couple weeks in a beautiful part of western Maryland.  The whole weekend will be $20.  Wow.  It is an amazing weekend; those who go make friends for four years.  Two freshmen who went on last year’s retreat are now officers on our Eboard and are totally on fire for Christ.  Wow! 

So, the invitation is to welcome Christ.  St James writes to “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls”.  Christ is the word.  Humbly welcome Christ!  Put in these terms, students are very open.  Of course, we welcome Christ!  And, then, you hear this Gospel and the challenge begins.  I have been asked by many, many young people over the years about sex.  Imagine that…! They ask why it is wrong outside of marriage.  Well, I wrote a pamphlet on it over the summer; it is in the Newman Center library.  It’s called, “Why is sex before marriage wrong?...short answer, because Jesus says so”.  He just said so in today’s Gospel (Mark 7:21).  He lists unchastity – some translations say ‘fornication’ – as one of the evils that come from within…right there with murder, theft, and adultery.  So, Jesus says that sex outside of marriage is wrong. 

Many young people will say that our religion is only about rules and regulations…you can’t do this, you can’t do that.  True, seven of the ten commandments are negative.  But, God is like a parent who tells their child not to touch a hot stove because it might hurt them.  God tells us not to touch sin because it can hurt us.  As the first reading says, there is wisdom in living the commandments.  Even still, let’s go to the positive.  We have another pamphlet in our library called, “Theology of the Body”.  It basically gives the positive and beautiful meaning of our sexuality.  Sex is beautiful and good.  It is sacred.  We can worship God through our bodies…through our sexuality.  The theology of the body has changed the lives of tons of young people.  We will offer classes on it this semester.   It’s about more than sexuality…it’s about humanity.  It’s about what it means to be human.  It’s also about freedom.  Living sexuality as God intends brings great freedom.  We are such slaves to our sexual desires.  Your desires get bombarded  from all sides on a college campus.  Theology of the body helped you to say, ‘I don’t have to follow every sexual urge or desire that I have’.  Wow! There is great freedom in that!  There is great freedom in living sexuality as we’re supposed to…there is great freedom in living the lives that we’re supposed to.  The way we live that life is Christ.  The way that we live pure and undefiled is Christ. Freedom means to live in Christ, not in the world.  It means to live the life you really want to live and to be truly you, not someone that the world says you should be.

Finally, when it comes to humbly welcoming Christ in the Eucharist, we need to be pure in order to receive.  We need to be in a state of grace to received Holy Communion.  If we have stepped into any of the serious sins that Jesus lists in the Gospel – which I have done - or any other mortal sins, we need to go to Confession before receiving Communion.  I ask you to have great respect for the Eucharist.  This is one of the things that GW Catholics have been so good at humbly receiving the word – that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ and that we need to be in a state of grace to receive.   Wow! Forget about what people on your right or left in the pews are thinking; worry about what He thinks.  When we live in a state of grace, we are living in Christ and Christ is living in us.  This is how we live pure and undefiled.  “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person”.  Living Christ is the way to purity and freedom.  This is our goal for this year…to “Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.”

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