Sunday, August 26, 2012

Christ's marriage with us (Sunday homily)

(This is the homily I prepared for this Sunday.)

The Gospel teaches us about the Eucharist and the Mass,
so let’s get into that.

To review: we believe Mass is a sacrifice.

Three things make a sacrifice:

First, something is offered.
In the Old Testament,
they brought the best lamb
and slaughtered it on the altar.

That’s a sacrifice.

Second, the sacrifice makes a covenant.
If you and I have a covenant,
I owe you, you owe me;
not a set amount,
but everything—it’s total.
You are faithful to me, and I to you;
not just for a day,
or a time, but forever!

That’s a covenant.

And third, those who make
the covenant-sacrifice
do something to share it
to be part of it,
and to obligate themselves
to the covenant:

So, after they burnt
part of the lamb on the altar;
the rest they shared as a sacrificial meal.
Doing that pledged them,
solemnly, to the covenant.

And that is called communion.

The second reading from Paul
connects this to marriage.
Do you realize, what we believe
about Jesus’ sacrifice and the Eucharist,
is what we believe about marriage:
Total, forever, nothing held back—and note:
it is consummated how? By communion!

So in this context, we understand why our Catholic Faith
has always taught that contraception—
barriers and pills—are gravely sinful,
because they ruin the communion
of a married couple.

How can there be communion with a barrier?
How can it truly be communion,
if an essential part is deliberately excluded?
That’s not total—that’s not communion!

Now, let me connect to the second reading.
We get distracted by the men v. women aspect.
I think for a lot of people,
it seems like Paul is telling women
to let men have power over them;
so you get men smirking and women rolling their eyes.

But look again at the reading: it’s not about power.
That’s the last thing on Paul’s mind.
Paul, if you listen closely, is referring to the Cross:
He tells both men and women to imitate Jesus self-surrender.
That’s not power; that’s service.

So, men: you want your wife to serve you? Serve her.
Women: if your husband will give his life for you,
will you do the same?

That’s what a marriage covenant is;
And that’s what Christ does for us:
He gives himself totally to his Bride, the Church.

When we come to communion, this is not a casual thing;
it’s our renewal of the covenant-sacrifice
God made, on the Cross, with his people.

The last part of the Gospel ought to shake us up:
Notice that some of Jesus’ own followers,
As they heard what he said, were unsure they could go where he was going.

So before we take communion at this Mass,
We might ask ourselves: am I really ready?
Taking the Body and Blood of the Lord on our lips
is pledging to Christ what he pledged to us: EVERYTHING!

“Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.”

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