Sunday, January 29, 2017

Jesus is speaking directly to you, right now (Sunday homily)

Notice what we just heard: Jesus went up a mountain; 
he sat down; and he began to teach. 
In these actions Jesus is showing himself to be the new Moses. 
Moses went up the mountain, he received the Law of God, 
and then he gave it to the people.

But here is a difference: 
Jesus does not receive anything on the mountain, 
because he already has it – because he is more than Moses. 
Moses received the Law from God. Jesus is God! 
That’s why Moses would say, “Thus says the Lord,” 
while Jesus simply says, “I say”!

This moment on the mountain is what Moses and the Prophets 
and God’s People all looked forward to.
And you and I are there with them, hearing Jesus speak to us.
He is speaking directly to each one of us.

So what matters here, right now,
 isn’t what Father Fox or anyone else says about this passage, 
but what Jesus says, to you and me, to our very hearts.

What is Jesus asking of you? 
How does your life measure up to these commandments of the New Law?

These words are like an examination of conscience for each one of us. 
Jesus tells us: this is what my Kingdom is like. 
Do you want to be part of my Kingdom? 
Or, to put it another way, do you want to go to heaven? 

Yes, Lord, we do, of course we do! 
This is how. These beatitudes – these ways of being – 
define what it means to be heavenly, to be citizens of heaven. 

If you and I want to be in heaven, live this way, now. 
Be these things, and you will fit into heaven; 
Ignore them, leave them aside, and heaven will be alien to you. 
You won’t go there, because you won't want to go there; 
It will be an alien place where you will be in torment.

These beatitudes define what it is to be happy in heaven – 
and it starts by living these laws here and now. 

“Poor in spirit” means living as one 
who is radically dependent on God, and knows it. 
Is that who I am? Is that how you and I live each day? Each hour?
Is each day “my” day? Or is it God’s?

Who does God ask me to mourn for? How far does my concern reach?
To put it another way: am I accepting my task, each day, 
of being my brother’s keeper? 
And do I know that every man and woman, without exception, 
is my brother and sister?

Am I meek, or am I proud? 
The proud inherit nothing – they have no share in the Kingdom to come.

Many of us live strongly by the hungers and thirsts 
we feel hour by hour – for food, for recognition, 
for entertainment, for getting our own way, for pleasure. 
We go to great lengths to satisfy these hungers, 
sometimes in shameful ways. 

Jesus says, hunger rather for righteousness. For justice. 
And not just for myself, but for my neighbor. 
Especially, above all, for the neighbor who looks different, 
acts suspiciously, isn’t welcome and is easy to condemn. 

What justice is owed to the stranger, the foreigner, the lawbreaker? 
Do I hunger and thirst that justice be done for them, too? 
Do I thirst enough for it to speak up when no one else will?

The merciful will be shown mercy, measure for measure. 
If I give only a thimbleful of mercy to others, 
that’s all I will get from God; 
but a good measure, pressed down, running over? 
What I give, will be given to me. 

Who will receive mercy from me – not because they deserve it, 
but simply because Jesus commands it? 
Will I work for my nation to be merciful, 
foreswearing torture and the death penalty, 
not for the sake of the one who deserves punishment, 
but for the sake of Christ, who asks it of me?

“Blessed are the clean of heart.”
Will I banish from my words, from my heart, from my entertainment, 
my computer, my phone, all that is not clean, so that I may see God? 
Teach us, Lord, to see each person, as made in your image; 
to see you, God, in every man and every woman, born and unborn.

What price will you and I pay for peace? 
Not only in faraway places, but at our jobs, in our homes, 
in our families? 
What words will I swallow, what pride will I set aside, 
How many extra miles will I walk, to bring peace?

Jesus has spoken to each of us today. 
He claims you and me as his own. 
How do we respond?
What are you, what am I, willing to let go of, 
to throw away and be rid of forever, 
to be empty of, so that we may be filled up with his word? 
To become those children of God 
whom Jesus calls “blessed, blessed, blessed”?


Anonymous said...

Father: That's another excellent homily, clear and unambiguous in its language while still being thought provoking. Thanks for publishing it.

rcg said...

Deceptivly powerful stuff.