Sunday, July 31, 2005

What holds you back? (Sunday homily)

All the Scriptures we heard are very inviting:
Come and eat; come and drink; don’t worry.
It’s all very inviting, isn’t it?

In the second reading,
St. Paul gives us every reason not to worry.

And yet, we worry, don’t we?

Isaiah asks, “Why spend your money
for what is not bread,
your wages for what does not satisfy?”

I dunno; but we do, don’t we?

We can come to Christ, we can let it go;
We can have peace—in any circumstance.

Yes—any circumstance!

When Christians were thrown to the lions,
When they were burnt alive,
They had peace—they sang!

In Mexico and Cuba, in just the last century,
Christians were beaten, deprived,
Every effort made to destroy their hope.

Led, finally, before firing squads,
Do you know what they said as they died?
Viva Christo Rey! “Christ the King LIVES!”

Even in the Gulag; even in Auschwitz,
People somehow found peace!
How, I don’t know; but they did.

So whatever problems you and I face—
If they did it; so can we.

What holds us back?

Sometimes we’re not desperate enough.
Sometimes really have to be at the end of our rope,
Before we finally just cry out.

This is what the 12 Steps
of Alcoholics Anonymous are about.
First, admit you’re powerless;
Second step: Only God can save you!
Third step: turn it over!

It’s so simple; and it works;
Yet how many hold back, hold on to their addiction?

Why do we hold back?

Our holy father, Pope Benedict,
Asked this question, in his first homily as pope,
and offered this answer.

Here’s what the holy father said.

My mind goes back to…when Pope John Paul II
began his ministry here in Saint Peter's Square.
His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!”

The Pope was addressing the mighty,
the powerful of this world,
who feared that Christ might take away
something of their power if they were to let Him in,
if they were to allow the faith to be free.

Yes, he would certainly
have taken something away from them:
the dominion of corruption,
the manipulation of law
and the freedom to do as they pleased.

But He would not have taken away anything
that pertains to human freedom or dignity,
or to the building of a just society.

The Pope was also speaking to everyone,
especially the young.
Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way?
If we let Christ enter fully into our lives…
are we not afraid
that He might take something away from us?

Are we not perhaps afraid to give up
something significant, something unique,
something that makes life so beautiful?

And once again the Pope said: No!

If we let Christ into our lives,
we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing
of what makes life free, beautiful, and great.

No! Only in this friendship [with Christ]
are the doors of life opened wide.
Only in this friendship
do we experience beauty and liberation.

And so…I say to you, dear young people:
Do not be afraid of Christ!
He takes nothing away,
and He gives you everything.

When we give ourselves to Him,
we receive a hundredfold in return.
Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ—
and you will find true life.

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