Sunday, December 21, 2014

Whose house? (Sunday homily)

In the first reading, King David wants to build a house for God. 
God tells David: he doesn’t really need it. 
Instead, God says that what David really needs to do 
is to allow God to build Israel’s “house.”

What does that mean?

First, it means that David – and those who would be king after him – 
are to be concerned with the spiritual welfare of the nation. 
If the nation is founded squarely on God, and centered on God, 
the nation will be secure. 
Then the house of God to be built will serve its purpose.

That was advice David’s son, Solomon – 
who ultimately built the temple – failed to follow. 
And so the kingdom of Israel gradually turned away from God; 
and the temple was destroyed.

All this applies just as much to us.

This church, which is beautiful, 
thanks to the sacrifices and care of this community over many years, 
is not something God needs. 
It is something we need, however. 
We need this house of prayer, this place of sacrifice. 

But having a beautiful church 
doesn’t assure that God stays at the center. 
That depends on us, and the choices each of us makes every day.

Above all, it depends on doing as we see Mary doing in the Gospel. 
She makes herself a house of God; a home for God.

As Saint Augustine said so beautifully of our Lady: 
she first conceived Jesus by faith in her heart, 
before she conceived him in her womb.

Your task and mine is to make our lives homes for Jesus. 
That is, someplace he lives – as opposed to being a guest.

I wonder: is Jesus really welcome to live in our lives? 
Or is he merely an occasional house guest? 

If you invite someone over for dinner, or even for a weekend, 
you assume your guest won’t go into every room, or open all the doors. 
That would be rude, wouldn’t it?
Even if we look, we don’t say anything. 
It’s not our home, after all.

A guest is happy to have whatever is served for meals. 
A guest may be given the nicest room in the house; 
but she knows better than to stay too long. 
And good guests know to follow along with the rules 
and customs of the house.

Is that how we treat Jesus in our own lives? 
Do we say, here’s the guest room, here’s the living room, 
the kitchen and back porch – 
as if to say, the rest of the house, that’s our private area?

What would change in our lives – 
or for that matter, in our actual houses – 
if, instead of greeting Jesus at the door as a guest, 
we instead handed him the keys?

“It’s your house now, Lord; do what you wish with it.”

So with our house; so with our car; 
so with our talents and gifts; 
so with our money and savings; 
so with our time, every day. 
So with all of our lives.

“It’s all yours Lord. Do with them as you wish.”


northernhermit said...

That's an especially good sermon, it makes a lot of sense.

Jennifer said...

Thank you. Very meaningful!

Shouting Thomas said...

I am looking forward, Fr. Fox, to your comments on the Pope's 15 Ailments of the Curia.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Don't hold your breath.

rcg said...

Excellent response, actually.

Shouting Thomas said...

OK, perhaps I mis-phrased that...

I'm looking forward to your comments on the insistence in the press that the new Pope is not really Catholic!

Fr Martin Fox said...


I was having a bit of fun with you.

As far as the holy father's remarks to the Curia...the Curia probably deserves a good deal of criticism, but I am not sure I would have recommended Pope Francis handle it that way.

My policy has always been that I never dress down a subordinate in public. (I am not claiming 100% compliance, but I think I've hewed closely.) If I have something critical to say about someone who works for me, or reports to me, I do it privately. In public, if someone has a complaint about any part of the operation over which I am responsible, I take responsibility for it, rather than point fingers. Then I discuss the matter in private with those who may or may not be responsible. (I've learned many times that what I assume is a subordinate's fault, often turns out to be my own.)

And, as far as the media? Yes, the pope remains Catholic.