Sunday, May 21, 2006

'Do fish know they're wet?' (Sunday homily)

I’m going to ask you a deep,
philosophical question…
Are you ready?


Do fish know they’re wet?
A fish lives in water—
does it know what that means?

Our readings keep saying, "live in love."
In the Gospel, the Lord says,
"Remain in me, live in me."
Last week, he said,
"I’m the Vine, you’re the branches"—
and what flows between us is the Life of God.

Whether we know it or not,
genuine love is a participation
in God’s own love.
That means there is no such thing as
a merely human love!

Whether we know it or not,
you and I are destined
to be drawn up into the Life of God.

As a fish is made to live in water,
so, you and I exist,
we live and move, in God’s love!

To answer my opening question,
I have no idea if a fish
can ever "wake up" to it’s reality.

But the reason God became man, in Jesus,
was to wake us up to our true identity!
This is "the Gospel," the "Good News!"
It is Good News!
But it is also very consequential news!

When you’re watching TV, sometimes you hear,
"we interrupt your regular programming
for this ‘Special News Alert’":
You look up—
"hmm, something big is happening."
But if you are a channel-surfer,
you know that "special alerts" don’t happen
across all the channels!
So the President
could come on and declare war;
we’re watching reruns!
We don’t know anything about it!

Jesus Christ is God’s "Special News Alert!"
You and I are the broadcasters of that message.
But that doesn’t guarantee everyone hears.

Either we wake up and we respond,
or, we tune it out.
In two words: Heaven or hell!

Now, when we think of hell,
we think of rejecting God.
We think of those who’ve done horrible crimes.
Yes—but that’s not all.

Think of heaven.
Heaven is the reality of
being fully alive to God.
We don’t know what heaven is like;
But the one, impossible option
is to be in heaven,
and not be totally part of it.

So—this may surprise you, but:
It won’t be because
of how good or bad we are!
We don’t get to heaven
because we’re good enough—
turn the cause-and-effect around:
We become good by responding to heaven!
We don’t go to hell because we’re bad;
we become bad because
we don’t respond
to the heavenly broadcast!
That’s a far more likely peril for most of us.

You and I don’t see
a lot of horrible people around us.
But we do see a lot of folks
who have bought a lie:
God is vague, there is no definite message,
God is whatever you make of him.
Feel good—no hard choices.
And we’ll all get to
some sort of heaven anyway!

What an excellent way to tune out God!

You realize, if we make ourselves deaf
to God’s reality,
He could scream in our ears
and we wouldn’t hear a thing!
That’s the peril.
And don’t ask, is that someone else;
Ask, "Is that me?"

So, how does this connect with regular life?
It is exactly in the daily demands of life
that you and make the choices that define us,
and that we either tune in to God—
or tune him out.

Saints aren’t just made
by praying in monasteries
and by stepping in front of
a firing squad.

Saints are made by
getting up before dawn to plant corn,
driving a truck long into the lonely night.
Finishing that boring homework,
mowing the lawn,
staying up all night with a sick child.

Fish live in water,
and you and I live in God’s love.
But God didn’t become a fish, to tell them.

We might say, "Who am I? I’m just"…a kid,
"I’m just"…a mom, "I’m just" a working man.
But with God, there are no "I’m just" people;
no one is too marginal to be filled with his life!
Everybody counts!

So his love, in us,
compels us to care for the least:
the unborn, those with disabilities,
those whose sins or crimes make us say,
"they brought it on themselves."

We care for the poor:
the rough and ragged
deserve the same respect
and the same rights,
as the respectable and powerful.

God’s love does not pledge allegiance to any flag,
does not put one nation over another.

My merely-human love can reach only so far;
it can tolerate only so much;
forgive, only so much.

But I am not merely human—
and neither are you!
God is waking us up—
he’s trying, anyway!
Trying to wake us up to our divine life:
His Promise, Life in the Holy Spirit!

Wake up, fellow fish!
You live in his Life! His Love!
Be worthy of that!

4 comments:

T.O. said...

Great homily. And I don't say that much.

Father Martin Fox said...

T.O.

Thanks; if you make it back this way, and feel like saying more...i.e., what made it great? I'd be interested, and grateful, for your feedback . . .

Gregaria said...

"So—this may surprise you, but:
It won’t be because
of how good or bad we are!
We don’t get to heaven
because we’re good enough—
turn the cause-and-effect around:
We become good by responding to heaven!
We don’t go to hell because we’re bad;
we become bad because
we don’t respond
to the heavenly broadcast!"

That does surprise me! Or at least, that way of putting it. I never thought about that before. Thanks.

T.O. said...

I liked a few things: Your short, clipped sentence style. That kept my interest as it flowed. I liked "You realize, if we make ourselves deaf to God’s reality,
He could scream in our ears and we wouldn’t hear a thing! That’s the peril. And don’t ask, is that someone else; Ask, "Is that me?"" We have the power to choose. That takes away the heaven/hell/predestination (which I didn't believe anyway) conundrum so many people put themselves through. It's up to us and we simply have to choose whether or not to LISTEN. And the third thing I liked was your "I'm *just*" statements. We all fall into that so easily. You were addressing people who no doubt were sitting in your congregation, the mother, the working man. Make it personal, make it real for them. (You didn't say the student, which I still (ugh) am, but it is easily enough applied across the board - you can't hit everyone!) You made it personal and made it up to ME to choose. No one is small and insignificant in God's eyes -- imago Dei. We all matter, we all have dignity, we all count equally no matter our station in life. So ... I hope that helps! :)