Saturday, August 27, 2005

Intimacy (Sunday homily)

That first reading is surprising:
Do you and I talk to God this way?
“You duped me!” I am miserable because of You!

If you think about it, that’s a conversation
between two who are very, very close.

That’s intimacy.
That’s what I want to talk about today.

“Intimate” means what is most personal and private;
what is closest to who we really are.
So “intimacy” is sharing that with someone else;
It’s when we feel free and safe doing that.

Jeremiah felt free and safe to yell at God!

Now, “intimacy” is often used to describe
a physical relationship: acts pertaining to marriage—
adults, you know what I mean.

Now, that’s valid; but it’s misleading:
Because if the main thing we associate with intimacy
are those special physical acts of man and woman,
then we risk not discovering what true intimacy is.

What about intimacy with a best friend?
A brother or sister? A parent?
What about intimacy with God?
True intimacy can’t be primarily physical:
Married people: is that not true?
If all you have is physical—without intimacy—
what’s that?

On the other hand, if you have true intimacy—
True closeness of what’s private, and personal—
Even without the physical part…
it’s nourishing, it’s life-giving, is it not?

Now: why am I talking about this?

Because I submit a misunderstanding
of what true intimacy is,
is easy for us, because true intimacy is hard;
and missing out on true intimacy
is at the root of many of our problems.

I submit everyone needs intimacy—
again, not the physical;
and, if we don’t get that intimacy,
we will feed that need the wrong way:
with food or gambling; with drugs, or with a bottle.

This is part of why the Church teaches
that we wait till marriage
for that special, physical relationship.
The physical part is relatively easy,
and awfully satisfying. But it’s not enough.

True intimacy is a lot harder.
It’s a lot riskier to bare ones soul than ones body.

So I don’t apologize for telling couples,
For telling single people, to wait!

God’s commandments are for our wellbeing.
If we get the physical before the deeper intimacy,
We may never get to that real intimacy.

Could that be connected to marriages
getting into trouble?

So, why did God make that physical part so much fun?
Because, built on the right foundation,
The physical is powerful and it reveals Christ’s love.

But the surface can’t be the foundation.
But it can be where we stop.
We can be so happy in the shallows,
we never take venture into the deep.
Christ confronts Peter with this truth in the Gospel.

Peter is beginning to have intimacy with Christ.
Like most, Peter sees the hope of a Messiah
in terms of worldly power and glory.
Jesus knew it would mean the Cross.
And Peter isn’t ready for that.
He isn’t ready for intimacy so painful and risky.

And so the Lord rebukes him, saying:
you can’t know me, until you know me,
not just in the good stuff,
but in the horror and pain as well.

You can’t know Christ without his Cross.

Intimacy isn’t just about good stuff, the fun stuff,
Without the deeper stuff, the really risky stuff.
Without pain and cost.

It is risky—but is it worth it? You tell me.

Is it worth it having a close friend, a life-partner,
having that place of trust and safety?

One final point.

If this intimacy—hard as it is,
is worth having in this life on earth,
Then what about eternity?

Talk about being happy in the shallows,
And missing out on what’s in the deep!

There is an intimacy we can have only with God:
that is the foundation for all the rest.

And the best part of what Jesus shows us in this:
that we can know him, not just in the good times,
but even more, in darkness and suffering!

That’s the power of the Cross!
That’s why Jesus told Peter, there had to be a Cross!

If there were no God, we’d still have the Cross:
There would still be pain and ugliness.

Christ came to tell us he’s real;
but even better, that he’s with us all the way!

Aren’t you glad he didn’t just come for the good stuff?

Jesus told Peter:
Without the Cross, you can’t know me!
There’s no one here who won’t experience the Cross.
That’s where we’ll know him best!
Aren’t you glad? That’s hope! Aren’t you glad?

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