Sunday, April 14, 2013

From the homily cutting-room floor

It may or may not be obvious that when a priest prepares a homily, there are things he thinks about including, and ultimately leaves out. Sometimes because he decides to take a different direction; sometimes because it gets too involved and too long. Many times because it's not really homiletical--i.e., there's a lot of interesting things I'd love to share about a reading, but it isn't necessarily all that helpful for folks at Sunday Mass figuring out how to live the word of God they just heard.

Because I write my homilies--and because I can write fairly fast, and writing things down is a way I crystalize and organize my thoughts--I often write quite a bit more than ever makes into a homily. My rule of thumb is one hundred words a minute (because long ago, I timed myself; and as far as I know, it's still a reasonable benchmark); and I can pretty easily write a thousand, fifteen hundred words on a subject, just typing away. But that doesn't mean its all edifying! For me, writing long is easy; cutting it down is the hard part. (So...when you see some of my really long posts...? Now you know the rest of the story!)

Sometimes I'll post that unused material. Here's what ended up on the cutting-room floor this weekend. Feel free to ask me why, or offer any observations.


Last week we saw how Jesus got most of the Apostles back in the fold. 
Remember, all but John ran away.
And we saw how the Lord reached out to Thomas.
So now it’s Peter. Remember how the leader of them all had not only run away, 
but actually denied the Lord--three times!

Notice how the Lord restores Peter.
He doesn’t ask, three times, “are you sorry?”
Nor does he ask, three times, “Are you my follower?” 
or, “Do you believe in me?”

He says, “Do you love me?”

And when Peter says yes, Jesus says what?
“Tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”

Of course, the first reading happens after the Gospel. 
Maybe just a matter of months.  

Do you think as Peter stands before the Sanhedrin, 
He remembers? Both the three denials, 
and then the three times he said, “you know I love you”?

May I suggest that the only way we will find the strength and courage 
similarly to stand up and bear witness, despite all,
Isn’t because we fear God--that helps--
but because we have a powerful recognition 
of what it really means to say, “I love you Lord.”

This is what love really means. It’s not just in how we feel--
but the choices and sacrifices we’re prepared to make;
Often without any applause--often indifference.


As Catholics and Christians 
we are getting an increasingly hostile reaction around us 
when we talk about some matters. 

You might say, prolife--and I’d say yes, to some degree;
On the other hand, we actually get something of a hearing on that.
There are at least some people who, not agreeing with us 100%,
Will at least give us a partial hearing.

What about laws re-defining marriage? 
That is one where the culture is rapidly changing around us, 
and it seems that a lot of Christians and Catholics, specifically, 
are sort of shrugging and saying, “so be it.”

But at the root of that question is, indeed, 
something that seems impossible to talk about anymore.
And yet, that silence means misleading people 
about what we as Catholics believe. 
Now, I’ll be brief--and I’ll be delicate given the context.

What I’m talking about is why we believe--
why the Church teaches--
that a certain type of intimacy belongs only in marriage, 
and only between a man and a woman.

Where does this come from?
We believe it because of, one, what our Lord himself said; 
Two, what the Scriptures as a whole say;
Three, because it’s what Christians have believed from the beginning, 
And four, because of what nature itself tells us.

If I had more time, I’d develop that fully; 
but for the sake of brevity, let’s just make some brief points.

This is all bound up with our being made 
“in the image and likeness of God.”
Even though each of us, as an individual, is an “image of God,” 
nevertheless, that image is incomplete.
It is man and woman, in the way each completes the other;
but even then, it goes still one more step.

This is what Pope John Paul taught in his “Theology of the Body”: 
When a man and a woman come together in that special way,
their love--by it’s very nature--
is designed and intended by God to go beyond themselves--and do what? 
Do the most Godlike thing a human being can ever do:
To create new life!

So, to draw out the implications of that:
Any time this special gift of sexuality 
is used or expressed contrary to this design, it is gravely sinful.
And that’s why it’s for man-and-woman only--and only in marriage; 
and always open to the gift of new life.

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