Sunday, April 28, 2013

The City of God (Sunday homily)

In the second reading we have the new Jerusalem, the city of God.
What does this tell us about who we are and where we’re headed? 
Let’s look at it.

The thing about a city is there is a lot of interdependence.
When I got up this morning, I wanted hot water; I turned the knob. 
To fix breakfast, I had bread on the counter, 
and eggs and bacon, butter and milk in the fridge.

But all those wonderful things only happen 
because of other people in this city, who run the water plant, 
maintain the gas and electric lines, and who bring food in 
from farms and faraway places to the grocery store.

The City of God works the same way. We belong together.

Our American way of thinking emphasizes individualism.
We like being free to do as we wish.

So a lot of Catholics tend to think about faith as being an individual thing.
And when we, or our bishops, talk about the obligations of being a Catholic, 
it doesn’t always register.

I think this explains why so many don’t go to confession.
Why can’t we just tell God? 
And the answer is because our sins don’t just involve God, 
they involve his Body, the Church.
And so, also, our reconciliation is in and through the Church.

The opening prayer mentions “Holy Baptism.”
Baptism is when each of us became citizens of that City.

Most of us were born citizens of this country; 
but if you talk to people who are naturalized, 
they’ll tell you about the many steps they took, 
and they’ll talk about how powerful it was 
to swear their allegiance and become a citizen.

Well, it’s even more true with baptism. 
That’s why we renew our baptismal vows at Easter, 
and why we profess our Creed each Sunday. 

And being a citizen in God’s City, the Church,
means we live our lives in our Faith and by our Faith.
When you think of it that way, 
how can we have a part of our lives we live outside the City?

And yet, that’s where a lot of Catholics are. 
Go on the Internet--get outside; 
how we run our business, or treat other people, 
how we shop or how we vote: we go outside the City.

And this is why we come here every Lord’s Day.
This is where the city we are not yet--
but which God is fashioning us to be--is made present.
This city doesn’t have a mayor; we have a King.
And the King is here! Of course we come!

If you read further in the book of Revelation, 
you’ll see that in the center of that City is a Tree:
“the Tree of Life” that gives fruit for the nations twelve months a year.

That Tree is the Cross. 
And so that we can become who are called to be,
that Tree becomes present here, at every Mass, at the altar.
The Eucharist is the Fruit of that Tree!

This is the City of God. Of course we come!

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