Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our House (Sunday homily)

Today we celebrate a great feast—
in many ways, as great as Easter and Christmas.
You may say, “Wait—I didn’t see anything on the calendar.”

You’re right, because it’s a feast just for our parish.
This is the anniversary of the dedication of our church.

Our church.
We belong to the Universal Church—
one, holy, Catholic and apostolic—
united through time and space.

But here, this is our home!
One hundred and forty-two years ago,

this church was consecrated a House of God.

In the Gospel you just heard, Our Lord said,
“Zaccheus: I must stay at your house!”
When the Lord came—and was received with faith,
Jesus said: “Today has salvation come to this house!”

The Lord needed a house—

and our ancestors built this house;
they received him in faith; and Jesus said:
“Today, salvation has come to this house!”
But not just for this house.
For this community.

Did you notice, in the first reading,
The Prophet “saw water flowing out” from the threshhold?
Water flowing out of the Temple of God.
That sounds like a phone call I don’t want to get:
“Father—there's a flood flowing down the front steps!”

This is the Water of the Holy Spirit;
The Water of God’s own life, a flood of God’s grace!

This is what this House of ours is for:
To be a source of life-giving Water.
A source of mercy and peace in Jesus Christ!

St. Paul said each of us builds on what someone else has done—
but there can be no good foundation other than Jesus Christ himself.
One hundred forty-two years ago,
this church was built to replace the first St. Boniface,

much smaller, on Adams Street.

I ask you to reflect for a moment on what they did.
They built a larger church.
Realize when they built it. I’ll give you a hint:
the year they completed it was 1865.

Think about how our times and theirs are similar:
We are at war; they had just gone through
the devastation of the Civil War.
We have economic troubles—so did they.

They didn’t have a Catholic grade school,
or high school, as we have today.

These windows were not here;
in fact, the church wasn’t even as large as this—
what is now the sanctuary was added later,
as was the vestibule.

They knew they were laying a foundation for the future.
And they were right!

You and I have built on that foundation.
And wars and booms and busts have come and gone.
Some things are worse; other things are better.
Seventy-five years ago,
the nation was in the Great Depression.
Sixty years ago, the Second World War.
Fifty years ago, we feared a nuclear war.
Thirty years ago, people fought
at service stations over a tank of gas.

Some of us, when we were kids, remember?
Remember how far away the year 2000 seemed?
Remember how we wondered if we’d even still be here?

But here we are.

As you know, I’ve been talking to you
about repairs to this House of God.
We have a lot more to do. It’s going to take everyone.
People have begun making generous pledges
toward the Rebuild Saint Boniface Fund.
And we have a ways to go.

So what? We’ll do it.
You and I are building on the foundation
others laid for us; and we build, in turn,
for those who will come after.

We aren’t just about a building;
This is the Temple of the Holy Spirit;
This is where the Lord has chosen to dwell.
From this House the Life of God flows out.

We’re building faith in Jesus Christ.
We’re building a place where we are family.
No doubt, just as the bricks and mortar need attention;
so do these things need constant attention as well.

I have to say, there are some who—
When they hear me talk about our needs,
Who when they see things that need attention,
They are negative: “Why aren’t things better?”
Well, I don’t know—but they aren’t!

But we might just as easily respond by saying:
Great—this is what we get to do to build God’s House!
This is our contribution!

This House will not really be completed
until every woman, man and child in Piqua
believes in Jesus Christ,
is united with him in his Church,
comes to Christ for mercy and healing,
and is transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Until that day, we keep building.
Until that day, our doors stand open,
So that the Life of God flows out.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Father, amen. The spirit of those early builders of St. Boniface is the spirit that built this country, that makes us the greatest country in the world. Let us pray for God's continued guidance as we work out these problems day to day.

Fr. Ed said...

Good Fr. Martin,

Appropos of nothing, here is my blog address:

Fr. Ed Burns