In the first reading,
Ezra the priest told folks “this day is holy to our Lord.“
Do we treat the Lord’s Day--today--as holy to our Lord?
Obviously, you’re at Holy Mass!
But keeping this day holy goes beyond that.
When God gave Israel a Sabbath, he said,
“Remember that you were once slaves.”
The Sabbath rest says, “you are slaves no longer.”
When the Christian Faith first began to spread,
The day of Resurrection--today--was just another work-day.
In order to attend Mass, Christians--many of whom were slaves--
had to get up very early, or go very late--after work.
Have you noticed? As our society forgets its bearings,
There’s another way we’re becoming more like pagan Rome:
The Lord’s Day is more and more just another day.
The point of refraining from unneeded work on Sunday
isn’t because work is sinful--
but to set aside time to prayer and reflection and rest.
The other thing Ezra said was to rejoice in the Lord.
Does our Faith give us joy?
Are we proud to say, “I am a Catholic?”
Are we eager to share our Faith?
Last Friday, I was in Washington for the March for Life.
I went with several priests and many of our seminarians--
along with hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Those who go aren’t all Catholics--thank God!--
But when you see how strongly the Catholics are represented,
It does make me proud of our Catholic Faith.
Sometimes people will ask, what’s the value of the March for Life?
I think the main value is as a time of prayer.
And like a pilgrimage or a retreat, it’s life-changing for those who go.
For me, this year marks ten years as a priest.
In 2003, there was a shadow over us as Catholics, and over priests--
because of the terrible things a handful of priests did.
And I remember a reporter came out to the seminary,
and asked me, was I going to be hesitant or “ashamed”
to be seen in a roman collar?
I said, no way! And I made a resolution that day,
that my response was to strive all the more to be faithful.
So I’d ask you the same question that reporter asked me.
Whether it’s Catholic institutions
that seem to care more about the world’s esteem
than what our Faith teaches…
Or politicians who brag about how Catholic they are,
until it comes time to defend the unborn or to defend marriage…
Or clergy and religious who lose their way…
Are we going to let that be the last word
on what it means to be a Catholic?
When some parts of the Body seem limp and lifeless,
That’s when you and I are called
all the more to be on fire for Christ! All the more!
The Spirit of the Lord has anointed…you! You!
Let rejoicing in the Lord be your strength.