Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sunday Homily on Justification*

Did you notice what happened in the Gospel:
Someone gets thrown out of the party
because he wasn’t dressed properly.

Maybe you thought what I did:
“but he was pulled in at the last minute.
How could he be expected to dress properly?”

But notice he had no response.
That is the key.

Yes, he didn’t get advance warning,
but that’s the point:
when our summons to the Kingdom arrives,
we may not get advance warning!
So be ready!

What does that garment represent?
Clearly not ordinary clothing;
it’s not even the good appearance we make.
That’s the point of the “no warning”:
If we have warning,
we’ll make sure we look good.

We might say, “I’ll do good deeds,
I’ll go to church: God’ll be impressed.”

No he won’t!
The garment isn’t about putting on a good show;
it’s about who we are.

The choices we make form us
into the people we truly are.

Someone might say,
“Father, I have a problem with lying.”
I might ask,
“Someone who tells lies, over and over—
what do we call that person?”
“A liar.”

The choices we make form us into who we are.

Like each blow of a chisel
on a block of stone:
The statue isn’t a product
of a single strike,
but of many, over time.

So: who will we be found to be
at any given moment?
At any given moment, are you and I ready
to be ushered immediately into the Kingdom?
Now, if you were dozing up to this point,
wake up now and listen to this part!

Can we be “good enough”?
Can we make ourselves “worthy?”

If you only half-hear what I’m saying,
you might think this is about
what we do to get God on our side:
how we “prove ourselves”;
how we win God’s favor.

No…No! No!
Yes, we have to change.
Yes, that change is necessary
for us to be saved.

But the alternatives are not,
“I change, God loves me,” versus
“I don’t change, God hates me.”

No. Instead it’s like this:
God loves you and me to start with:
Either I respond to that love,
and He changes me;
Or I don’t respond to that love,
and I am lost.

Whoever is in hell, God loves them!
The problem is,
they don’t love him back.
And that is what makes his love
a torment to them!

So that wedding garment represents us made perfect.
“Made perfect”: that is, God does it;
“Made perfect”: meaning,
the holiness Jesus calls us to is total.

And if that sounds impossible—you’re right!

The sooner we accept that,
we realize it’s about living in relationship
with Jesus Christ,
living in his Holy Spirit day by day.

It’s not something
we can put off to another day;
It’s not something
someone else can do for us.
That’s what will shape us,
purify us, lead us deeper;
The Spirit in us is our courage
to embrace whatever hard choices
come with following Christ.

Is it tough? You bet—tougher than anything.
Because it means for every one of us,
Something will be nailed to the cross.
Our pride, our control,
our deepest desires;
Something—and ultimately, everything—
is turned over to him
that we may have eternal life.

I’m sure you’ve seen
the commercials for the military:
This young man climbs up a mountain,
its hard and dangerous. Why does he do it?
So that, at the summit,
he can be one of
“the few, the proud, the Marines.”

God bless the Marines, we need them.

I’d love to run an ad like that
for being a priest—being a nun—
being a mother or a father—
being a Christian!

The question is,
what will you and I let Christ do,
What will we sacrifice, that you and I
may be counted among “the few, the humble,
who died to themselves, the saved”?


* Anyone who wants to know in what way I'm discussing justification in this homily, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

2 comments:

Claire in Virginia said...

Well said, Father!

In Mass today, our pastor compared the wedding invitation in the Gospel as our invitation to Mass every Sunday. He pointed out that if we love God, then we wouldn't decline His invitation with all sorts of excuses. God has given us so much blessings and the least that we could, no matter what hardships or tribulations are going on in our lives, is be thankful.

We have 168 hours in a week. I think, an hour wouldn't hurt us to give thanks and praise no matter how busy we claim our lives to be. Just a thought!

Thanks for sharing your Homily with us. Have a great week. :o)

Father Martin Fox said...

Clare:

Thanks for commenting on my homily.

I post my homilies because I love getting feedback. It's not about fishing for compliments, but about learning what ideas, thoughts, insights etc. are stimulated by what I offer. And about finding out if what I think is effective, really is . . .

I found myself, today, as I preached this homily, thinking of a different angle I could have taken: talking about the "wedding feast" of the Mass to which everyone is invited, yet many refuse to come.

But I really wanted to focus on that missing garment, since that struck me as the really difficult part of the reading. I often prepare my homily that way: trying to address some part of the reading that seems most problematic.