Friday, June 08, 2012

The suffering of the whole Body of Christ (Corpus Christi homily)

OK, this is a lesson in what happens to parish priests.

All day I've been working on my homily for this weekend. The reason it took all day is because I had a number of phone calls, problems, visits, etc. Finally, about an hour ago, I finished it--it seemed reasonably polished--good!

For the last hour, I worked on a few other things.

Another phone call, 5 minutes ago. Leave me alone!

It was the retired priest at the rectory. He'd gotten a call about a visiting priest this weekend.

Head slap. "Oh, yeah, I forgot."

That's the priest who is making his mission appeal. At all Masses. He's preaching.

Meaning I didn't need to prepare a homily.

While I don't blame anyone but myself, can you imagine how frustrating this is?

Well...here's the homily I was going to preach. Why waste it?

And as my mother still says, from heaven, "offer it up." Amen, mom.

***


We often say, we want Mass to be a celebration. And it is.

Yet we’re gazing at the Cross. Our God suffering and dying.

We don’t like looking at the Cross. 
In the 70s and 80s, a lot of churches took it out; 
or we left it bare; or we took down the broken body of the Lord
and put up a smiling, resurrected Jesus.

But not only our bishops said, bring back the crucifix—
the sense of the faithful said it. And there he is.

Around the world, right now, religious persecution is a major problem. 
Hundreds of thousands are suffering or dying each year for their faith. 
Most of them are Christians. Major parts of the Body of Christ are suffering.

Here at home, we’re facing threats to religious freedom.

On August 1, the President’s order that health plans 
include contraceptives, sterilization and drugs that cause abortions 
will go into effect as law. 
Only religious organizations have been told they can wait a year to comply. 
Unless a court suspends the order, 
most of you will come under this in about six weeks; 
and all religious organizations, next August.

To comply, our hospitals, universities and charities 
will have to operate contrary to our Catholic faith. 
When we can’t run Catholic Charities in a Catholic way, 
it ceases being Catholic Charities. 
That’s why the Archbishop of Chicago said he’ll close the hospitals 
rather than be false to our faith. 
Archbishop Schnurr hasn’t said what he’ll do—
but he said, “we cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.”

Will Notre Dame will become the University of South Bend? 
Will Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton 
become Good Citizen Hospital, run by the government?

Many of our bishops and charities and colleges have gone to court. 
We have a good case. But nothing is certain.

This is why the bishops are asking us to keep a “Fortnight for Freedom”
—from June 21 to July 4—in which all 70 million Catholics in this country 
unite in prayer and sacrifice for the preservation of our religious freedom. 
And this is why we asked, last week, 
for commitments to pray or sacrifice in some way. 

So many of you responded! Thank you! 

But a lot of us haven’t committed yet. 
I admit I held back because I wanted to think about it, 
and write down my promises so I’d remember!

Commitment forms are in the pews. Feel free to fill one out now, 
while I’m talking. 
Or else take one home and bring it back next week. 
Again, I ask everyone, young to old, to make some commitment.

Even if we win the present challenge, more storms are on the horizon.

I said before that we don’t like looking at the Cross—but we can’t look away.

And it’s not just the Body of Jesus on the Cross—
it’s the whole Body of Christ on the Cross.

To be a Christian is to share in his suffering—
precisely because the Son of God chose to share in human suffering. 
And by the way—there’s our teaching on social justice summed up. 
Jesus chooses to stand with the poor and the persecuted—
so if we want to be with him, that’s where we’ll be.

There’s a film in the theaters right now called “For Greater Glory.”

It tells how, just 80 years ago, Catholics in Mexico 
saw their government declare war on them. 
I cannot say strongly enough: go see this movie! 
It is violent—that’s why it’s rated R. 
It’s the violence of how Mexico was crucified by her own Pontius Pilate.

Now, you could just see violence in that story and nothing else—
just like people look at the Cross, and simply want to look away.

But you can also see something beautiful. I went with a group of priests. 
We were crying. We saw why we became priests. 
For me, part of why I became a priest 
was because of the story of those Mexican priests, 
hunted down and killed during those years.

I remember when I learned of Blessed Jose Sanchez—
whose image we added to St. Boniface last year—
and it touched me powerfully, 
as it did our kids who suggested him. 
His story is part of this movie. 

To see that boy, stand for Christ, standing alone—
and really to be at Calvary, even though
it was Mexico, not Jerusalem, 1900 years later. 

I want to be Blessed Jose! I want that courage! 
I want to stand with Christ when the hour of choosing comes! Don’t you?

So when we see Christ on our crucifix…
we see our Lord on the altar, in the Mass…
when we feed on his flesh and blood…

Remember it is the whole Body of Christ. It’s our cross. 
When the priest offers the Lamb of God to the Father, 
we also offer ourselves. 
To the extent we really live our Christian lives before others, 
then folks who have never received the Eucharist, get their first taste.
They will follow us back to the Source.

1 comment:

Father Matt said...

That happened to me on Trinity Sunday. I prepared a homily, and on Thursday evening the Pastor informed me that he was switching me to the opposite parish, and that the MCP speaker would be replacing the homily. Oh well, I guess I'll just blog it.