Sunday, May 04, 2014

'Courage and conviction come only with encounter' (Sunday homily)

There are two subjects that seem natural to talk about 
during Easter Season. 
One is the Resurrection: 
not just the Lord’s rising from the dead, but our own.
One day, our bodies will rise from the dead.
We’ll have them back, new and improved.

And the second is the Eucharist, especially with this Gospel.

But what I want to do is to see how they fit together.

Sometimes we need to state the obvious. 
Easter – and our Faith – make no sense 
unless Jesus’ body came back from the dead. 
If not, he is not our Savior.

That’s the point Saint Peter makes in the first reading. 
King David’s tomb is still here and it is not empty. 

But Jesus’ tomb is empty.

Only this year, after visiting Peter’s tomb in Rome, 
did it occur to me why Peter, in particular, 
is such an important witness to the Resurrection.

It’s because he – like Saint Paul – 
is such an improbable witness to the Resurrection!

Peter is giving this sermon at the temple, 
on the day of Pentecost, 
50 days after the resurrection. 

Do you think there might have been those who said, 
Weren’t you just denying him, Peter?
How do we explain Peter fearlessly 
standing up for Jesus on this occasion?

That courage and conviction comes from an encounter. 

There’s the theme of this homily:
Courage and conviction comes from encounter.

Not just the empty tomb; but he saw Jesus, back from the dead, 
with his eyes; and perhaps he, too, touched the wounds.

Let’s look at the Gospel. 
We often focus on the line, 
“he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” 
That is, the Eucharist.

But notice something else. Jesus plans for all this to happen 
only after they walk together for awhile.
We don’t know how long, but it took some time.
And notice they were reflecting on the events; 
he took them through the Scriptures. Then they sat down together.
And only then – after they say, “please stay with us,” 
are their eyes opened and they see Jesus!

So that conviction – and that encounter – doesn’t happen on the cheap.
Don’t expect to find it if we aren’t willing 
to give some time to growing in our faith, 
and also to spending time, not with a book – but with him!

Permit me to be blunt.

There are a lot of us Catholics who will say, I don’t get it. 
And many will say, as I did when I was in college, 
that it was the Church’s fault – a priest’s fault, the sisters’ fault — 
that I didn’t know my faith better. 
Because they didn’t teach me, I said.

What do the Car Talk radio guys say? “Bo-o-o-gus!”

Whenever the Enquirer writes something about our Faith, 
you can count on them finding some opinionated, 
but ill-informed Catholic, who says, “I never heard that!”

It could have been someone else’s fault. However…
If we aren’t willing to spend time walking with the Lord, 
sitting with the Lord, we won’t see the Lord!

So, let’s be practical. If you take time to read the readings ahead of time, 
you’ll get more from them at Mass. 
If we want Holy Mass to be more than a ritual, 
make time to come and sit with the Lord!

We’ve never had better resources to learn our Faith. 
In the end, it’s a function of how much time and energy 
you and I choose to give it.

Every month, on the second Sunday, 
we have about an hour after the 8:30 am Mass, 
when the Lord is on the altar for adoration. 
But our doors are open every day, all day. Seven to 7. 
Come and sit with him. 

Holy Mass is far more than the ritual.
The Eucharist is not bread and it is not wine, 
even though that’s all we can see and taste. 
It is Jesus; his resurrected body and blood, the life of God himself, 
given to us so that the power of his resurrection 
is the power of our life. Life at a higher level. 
What we see in a fearless Saint Peter, 
and all the saints and martyrs.

No one can make you want this. 
And don’t count on it happening 
if we only spare a few minutes for the Lord.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

It is true that no profound spiritual or psychological change for the better can happen on the cheap. We must be willing to pay with everything we have. It is up to us individually. There are no excuses.