Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why are we here? (Homily for St. Mary's Dedication Anniversary)

Whenever I hear this Gospel reading, I wonder…
"I hope the Lord doesn’t mind we sell SCRIP back there!"
It’s a reminder to us to keep our focus.

A lot of parishes choose not to mark the occasion we celebrate today:
the anniversary of when this parish was consecrated as a house of worship.
I have only been present one time for such a consecration:
last year, when Sacred Heart Parish in McCartyville built a new church.

It’s an impressive occasion.
The whole church is dark and locked up… the bishop leads everyone in,
and step-by-step the building is consecrated for use in worship.
The walls of the church are anointed with chrism, the same oil used for baptism,
confirmation and for anointing the hands of a priest.
The altar is also anointed, and incensed—
only then are cloths and candles put on the altar,
to be used in the Sacrifice.

It doesn’t happen very often, and it hasn’t happened here for awhile,
because this house of God has stood here for 165 years this year.

The first church of Saint Mary is still here, but it’s just this corner here.
In 1898, it was expanded and consecrated a second time—
you can read about that on the front of church, over the door.
Then, in 1979, the interior was changed significantly,
and it was dedicated a third time.

But as St. Paul described, you and I continue to add to what others built.
Not so many years ago, we improved our school building.
In recent years, you and Father Tom and I
have made further improvements.
Future generations will make their additions as well.

But Saint Paul reminds us, our foundation can only be Jesus Christ.

Everything we do, our time here in this building,
our schools, Piqua Catholic and Lehman,
our religious education and youth programs, our festival, our fundraisers…

Our outreach to the poor through Saint Vincent de Paul,
Bethany Center and the Piqua Compassion Network,
all our resources of time, talent and treasure…

If it isn’t all about bringing Jesus Christ to this community,
if it isn’t about being one Body of Christ, no matter who we are…
Then why are we here?

Recalling the solemn dedication of this church
reminds us how important the Mass is, even the least detail.

It isn’t just one of many things we do as the Body of Christ—
it is the foundation, because the Mass is what makes us the Body of Christ.

Whether we come here or not, we have physical life—
but what brings us here is to receive eternal life.

We come here for new life in baptism;
we come here for healing in confession,
for the power of confirmation;
and we come here, to this altar,
to behold the Glory of the Lord
in his death and resurrection, shared in the Eucharist.

When Jesus drove those folks from the temple,
it wasn’t because they were doing anything bad—
in fact, it was needed—people needed animals to sacrifice.
No, he drove them back because they were getting in the way.

When I give a talk about SCRIP, or an annual report,
I hesitate, I don’t want that to get in the way.

It can be enjoyable when a priest brings his personality into the Mass,
but as an outgoing person myself,
I fight that, so I won’t get in the way.

When we gather for Mass, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us keep our focus,
to keep this house a house of prayer.

And in this Mass, as we open up to the grace
God offers us here, especially in the Eucharist,
we might ask that God will do in our lives
what he long ago did in this building:
"This is where my throne shall be."

2 comments:

Jackie Parkes said...

Would you mind updating to my new blog Fr?

Many thanks..

Father Martin Fox said...

Jackie:

I finally got it done for you!