Sunday, May 14, 2006

'Is it in you?' (Sunday homily)

“Is it in you?”

That’s the slogan for the sports drink, Gatorade.

The ad shows an athlete, who’s running hard,
and sweating hard, sweating Gatorade.
It’s an odd image, but it makes the point.

“Is it in you?”

When Jesus calls himself the Vine,

and us the branches,
we know what runs between

the Vine and the branches:
the sap, the life of the vine.
And that “sap” of the Vine
is the very Life of God, the Holy Spirit.

Is that in you?

The Holy Spirit first comes to us in baptism;
as the new shoot grows into a branch,
and as we grow into adulthood,

more is asked:

“Do we want It in us?” and,
“What will you do to keep It in you?”

In the Gospel, Jesus says,
“Remain in me”—it’s not automatic.
We don’t like to think about it, but:
some of the branches do wither,

and they do die,
even while remaining on the tree:
gradually less and less

of the sap runs through them.
They may even look green for awhile.

But spring comes back around, you know:
there’s no new growth—they’re barren.

Jesus warns us—branches can die,

and go into the fire.
We don’t take it for granted.

It happens when we sin:
“Little” sins, venial sins,
are little cuts, that diminish

the life of the branch.

And we can get used to that!

As we get older, or out of shape,
we get used to having less physical energy.

That can happen spiritually, too:
we get used to a sin;

if others around us misuse Jesus’ name,
we may be shocked the first time;
but after awhile, we stop noticing.

At some point, sin becomes mortal—
meaning, it severs the life of the branch.

There are such things as “mortal sins.”
The fire Jesus warned us about is hell.

It can happen.

Now, you don’t commit

a mortal sin by accident:
And you don’t do it without knowing you did it.

But the reason they’re mortal sins
is they represent a fundamental contradiction
against the life of God in us.
Ultimately, they represent the branch
choosing itself over the life of the Vine.

Sometimes we might not understand

why a sin is mortal—
“no one is hurt,” “why should God care?”—
the answer is, because

God cares about us, the branch!
And the branch has no life in itself,
although we fool ourselves and think we do!

The purpose of the branch is to bear fruit!
We receive life in order to give life!

So if we wonder why our Catholic Faith
teaches that some of the choices we make,
with our bodies,

with our sexuality, with marriage,
are not only sinful,

but mortally sinful—this is why!
So, yes: alone, outside of marriage, or
where the possibility of new life is prevented?
(Yes, I do mean contraception

Yes, these are mortal sins!
The branch does not exist for itself!
Our purpose is to bear fruit—and a lot of it!

Are we fruitful in sharing

our gift of faith with others?
Are we bold in defending our faith

when under attack?

This week, on 800 screens nationwide,
our Lord will be blasphemed every two hours--
I mean "The DaVinci Code."

The courage we need for that

comes not from us,
but from the Holy Spirit,

the Life of the Vine.

And if we are fruitful,

Jesus said he wants more!
So we can’t be complacent.

Pray for me, your priest—
because this is where I am.
This is my temptation, to think,
“I’m a priest, I’m doing fine.”

So how do we become more fruitful?

Fellow branches,

it’s good to check ourselves:
Have we gotten used

to having less of his life in us?
In there sin—

do we need to go to confession?
What fruit are we producing?
There are lots of kinds of fruit—
what’s important is that his life,
the Holy Spirit, is in that fruit.

So, one of the best habits

we can ever develop
is the practice of giving each day to God,
of daily consecrating our ordinary stuff to him.

Say a prayer getting behind the wheel;
Say grace—at every meal,

no matter where you are!
If something good happens,

say “Thank you, Jesus!”
Something bad?

“Please be with me, Lord!”

That’s how his Life

works its way through the branch;
and makes everything we produce

truly fruitful.

And then, when other folks

see our fruit, taste our fruit,
they won’t have to ask:
“Is it in you?”


Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Martin,

I agree with Cathy - thanks for not skipping the tough topics - not beating around the bush - but putting them in context. They take us away from grace and Him. Our Father in Heaven is a good father who knows what will make us really happy - he's not making up rules to annoy us.

Thank you for being a good father and telling the truth - in all of it's beauty.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Father!!! Excellent homily! We need more like this.

Deacon David Oatney said...

I wish your homilies were in audio format!