Sunday, September 28, 2008

What will you give up for the salvation of souls? (Sunday homily)

This was one of those rare times I prepare a homily without writing it out; so I can only give you a summary of what I said last night and today.

> I began with the second reading, Paul's powerful description of the central fact of our faith: God gave up all his "riches" and emptied himself, becoming human, and further emptying himself, embracing death for our salvation.

> We recall this in the Creed, and we bow at a certain point--"by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man"--and the reason we bow isn't because someone tells us to, but to express our profound awe and wonder at what we're saying in our Creed.

> But Paul says, "have this same attitude"--so in reflecting on this, the question struck me: what would we be willing to give up, to bring salvation to others?

> I am aware of all many do give up: your time to be part of the Mass; you bring others with you; you pray for them; your sacrifices for our parish and school. But the Son of God gave it all up--emptied himself--so is there more to do?

> If we knew, by giving something up, we could fill empty spots in church, we would do it, wouldn't we? What might those sacrifices be?

> One might be to give up a grudge--we make the first move to be reconciled to someone. We invite someone back. Not only tell people about RCIA, but take them along; bring people to the Bible Study, bring them to the chapel.

> Realize what Paul described in the reading is what happens in the Sacrifice of the Mass; we don't see it with natural eyes, but with eyes of faith. But that's what the Mass is. We can and should place our concerns, the people we're praying for, on the altar, so the Lord can lift them up to the Father in his great prayer.

> Realize also that in emptying himself, to make us rich--this is what he does in the Eucharist: all his wealth and glory is offered to us in the Eucharist! And Christ offers us a "deal," and here are the terms of this deal: He empties himself, of all his wealth, which he offers us, but we have to give something up: our sins, our self-will, our own way of doing things. We give up our poverty and he accepts that, and offers us his infinite glory and heaven. Wow! Wow!

> When we've received the Eucharist, the Mass soon comes to an end, and we are sent out: now we go and do as Christ did: we're rich in Christ, rich as can be, and we go into a world that is hungry for him. We go and empty ourselves.

What are we willing to give up, for the salvation of the world?

(Note: I used the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer.)