Saturday, March 14, 2009

True Worship (Sunday homily)

Probably most of us have seen the movie,
“The Ten Commandments.”
It a fun movie, but it misleads us a bit,
about why God sent Moses to Pharaoh.

When you simply read the Book of Exodus,
You will discover the key issue at stake:
“Let my people go to worship me.”
The point of the deliverance from slavery
was that God’s People
may offer true and worthy sacrifice to the Lord.
When you see that repeated
throughout the story of Exodus,
you realize what a major issue that was.

The Ten Commandments as we heard them just now:
Did you notice, the first three commandments
were all about worship of the Lord:
No other gods; no false images; keep holy the Sabbath.
Notice how much God said about that?
The other seven commandments were extremely brief.

So, what do we make of that?

To me, it suggests that true worship,
the way we really are supposed to worship,
is not something that comes from us, to God—
but it is God who tells us how to do it, and we respond.

In other words, we don’t create worship;
we learn how to do it, from the Lord.

God does not need our worship.
It is we who need it—
it is the foundation for everything else.
A back doctor will tell you:
If your spine is aligned, everything else falls in place.
It’s the same with worship.

But I don’t just mean, it’s important
that we worship—although that’s true;
I mean even more that it’s important how we worship.

Remember, when God’ People arrived at Mt. Sinai,
they did not form a liturgy committee
and to plan how they would worship God.
God already had a plan for them—
which he gave to Moses, on top of the mountain.

Well, let me correct myself.
While Moses was up the mountain,
they did form a committee.
And the result was the golden calf.

You realize, with the golden calf,
they weren’t seeking to worship some different god.
This was their plan for worshipping the same God.
It was what they liked better.
Think about it: how can we human beings imagine
we even know how properly to worship God?
We need God to show us
what will point us in the right direction.

That’s what he did on Mt. Sinai.
When he came, as man, to the temple,
He made the point a different way—
“get this stuff out of here!”

And then, on the night before he died,
he said to the Apostles,
“Do this in remembrance of me.”

It was the Apostles who, in his Name,
taught the early Church how to offer the Sacrifice
of the new and everlasting Covenant: the Mass.

No, I don’t mean every precise detail;
but if you study the Mass,
you would be surprised—and I think, encouraged—
to discover just how much of the Mass, as we know it,
goes back to the early Church.

And the Sacrifice of the Mass, in turn,
draws from what God told his people at Mt. Sinai!
Even the design of our churches for 2,000 years,
reflected what came from Mt. Sinai!

So that suggests that the right form
of celebrating the liturgy
deserves serious attention.
Is it the only important thing? Of course not;
But it may be more important than we think.

I know I’ve stirred up some people.
Some say, “I love this,” or, “I can’t stand that!”
May I suggest that misses the point—both ways?

When we come together, we are entering into a mystery.
The most important realities of the Mass
are hidden from view—although what we see,
points to what is unseen.

The Mass really isn’t about what we like—
or what we want.
It’s about what we need.
And we, ourselves, don’t fully know that.

What we need is Christ himself to offer worship;
Christ himself offers the Sacrifice.
He is the Passover lamb; he is the priest.

Letting Christ do that—
and realizing it is Christ who does it—
we don’t have to worry;
every Mass will provide all we need.

1 comment:

Greta said...

"If your spine is aligned, everything else falls in place.
It’s the same with worship."

I think it is also true that if your spine is too straight, worship can suffer. I have grown to love the humility I so deserve that tends to curve the spine just a little.

It is funny how you hear a sermon or in this case read it and someone, I think God finds a way to speak to a hundred different people in a hundred different ways when all are hearing the same sermon word for word. We are all in such a different place on our journey. Today I needed to be reminded of the straight spine and yet God seemed to add a twist.

I thank you for your sermons. I read a lot, but post only a little in comments. I thank you also for being a priest and from everything I see, one who is struggling for day to day just like everyone else. Priests are placed in many different places. I am often reminded of the shock one of my students had when he saw me in a resturant. I truly believe the kids think I live in the room they see me in each day. Anyway, thanks for everything. I try to come to the blog each week to see if you have had time to post you sermon. I print it out and take it with me to mass so I can read it before mass to get my drifting mind more focused on what I will hear.