Sunday, October 12, 2014

'Where everyone is invited to bring everything we have, best and worst' (Sunday homily)

This weekend we have our annual Forty Hours, 
in which we adore our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, on the altar. 
We began Friday morning, 
and many were here through the night and through Saturday. 

By the way, there are a few hours needing coverage 
tonight and tomorrow, perhaps you can check the schedule 
before you leave?

The readings sure seem well suited, don’t they? 
Isaiah speaks of a great feast on the Lord’s mountain, 
and the Gospel speaks of a wedding feast. 

Let’s start with the Gospel. How does that connect to the Eucharist?

Recall what our Lord Jesus called himself many times: 
“I am the Bridegroom.” 
In the Book of Revelation, there is a vision of a great wedding feast, 
when Jesus, the Lamb of God, celebrates his marriage with us, 
his people. All God’s people are the Bride.

We are also the guests. 
Notice how the Gospel says they went out and invited in everyone. 
We couldn’t be at the Passover Supper of Jesus and the Apostles, 
on the night before he died. 

At the cross, only the Apostle John, Mary the Lord’s mother, 
and a few others were present. 

But for Holy Mass? Everyone is invited. 
The Mass takes place all over the world, at every hour of every day. 
See how God seeks to bring everyone to the wedding feast?

Yet notice what happened in the Gospel. 
The king found someone not wearing a “wedding garment.” 
You might say, but he didn’t have time to get properly dressed; 
but that’s not the point here.  
This is a symbol of our readiness to do what the Lord commands.

When we come to the Lord Jesus, 
we only need one thing: faith. But what does that mean?

Here’s where there’s a great misunderstanding. 
Many people think faith is simply belief: 
I believe in God, so that’s enough. But they are mistaken. 
Faith includes acting on that belief. 
It includes the response of our obedience. 

The Lord says, “You shall not lie.” 
Yet I have lied; my wedding garment is stained by my sins. 
Jesus says, “Repent and believe!” 
So I repent, and I go to confession. 
My wedding garment is spotless!

Of course, sometimes repentance and obedience is demanding. 

To give generously as Jesus says? Not easy. 
As our culture and government becomes more and more hostile 
to our Faith, it will become harder 
to run a business according to Gospel values. 

In a time of war, it’s hard to avoid wrath. 
With our society soaked with sensuality, the virtue of chastity – 
either single or married – is often laughed at as impossible.

Let’s look at the first reading. 
It is more of a prophecy for the Eucharist than we may realize. 
Note that it takes place on a mountain. Why is that important? 

In the Bible, mountains are often where God and his people would meet. 
There are many examples – Mount Sinai, 
the Mount where Jesus revealed his glory to the Apostles, and others – 
but let’s focus on two in particular. 

First recall Mount Zion, where the temple was built. 
That’s where the sacrifices were offered, day by day, year by year, 
to atone for sin. 

And then, of course, there is the hill of Calvary, 
where our Lord was nailed to the cross. 
That, of course, is the true and final sacrifice offered for our sins; 
and it is what Holy Mass makes present. 
The Eucharist—the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, 
which comes from the Sacrifice of the Cross—
is the great feast Isaiah foresaw.

After all, Isaiah also said that 
“on this mountain the Lord will destroy…death forever.” 
That is what the Cross did! 
That is why we come to Holy Mass; we are the people Isaiah foresaw, 
who gather at the Cross to receive life! To live forever!

The image of the wedding guest being thrown out 
isn’t about where we are now, in this life, trying to find holiness. 
It’s about Judgment Day: will we be found ready?

A better image for our “right now” is the Cross. 
There were saints and sinners there. 
Many didn’t want to be there. Many, perhaps most, 
had no real idea of what was happening. 
There was a criminal next to the Lord 
who offered what he could – and he entered Paradise. 
There was a soldier who helped kill the Lord, who was converted.

Again, the Cross is the Mass; the Mass is the Cross. 
Here Jesus makes the offering that destroys death and gives life.

So one of the most important things to appreciate here – 
and for you to take away from this homily – 
is how we realize all the power of the Mass, not just part.

The Eucharist is sharing in the sacrifice – and of course we want that. 
It’s right to want that. 
If only I hungered more for the Eucharist than I do!  

But there is another sharing in the sacrifice, equally tremendously* powerful. 
And that has to do not with what we get, but what we bring.

We’ve all heard people say, “I didn’t get anything out of Mass.” 
Maybe the homily was boring, or you didn’t like the music. 
Perhaps someone distracted you. 
And sometimes, when people cannot come to communion, 
they won’t come to Mass at all.

The truth is, everyone, without exception, 
“gets” something from Mass, if you want it. 
You and I get grace: God’s presence and power, poured into our life. 
We “get” to be in Jesus’ presence. 
We get to unite our hearts to his. Everyone gets that. 

Yes, even the infants; 
I am absolutely certain they meet Jesus here in a real way. 
He created them and they are his. He knows his own sheep. 

We think they don’t “get” anything 
because we measure that in grown-up terms. 
That’s our mistake!

But back to what we bring, instead of getting. 
We bring our own offering: as the Morning Offering prayer says, 
we bring our “prayers, works, joys and sufferings.” 

It isn’t limited just to the good stuff. 
We are invited to bring everything. 
Our hurts, our shame, our failures and sins. 
Right here, to the Cross. 

That’s what the Cross is: 
the worst thing in the world, that became the best thing in the world.

Where everyone is invited to bring everything we have, 
best and worst – but especially worst…

Where evil is transformed into good…
Where we are saved – and where we gain life forever.

* Changed after 5 pm Mass.


truthfinder2 said...

If the Mass is the Cross, then some of the lyrics and hymns I've heard recently (not just in my own parish) seem to be shortchanging the vertical bar (God-to-me. Me-to-God) in favor of the horizontal one (Me-to-others. Others-to-me). There is an altar for the Holy Sacrifice, not just a "Table of Plenty" where "All Are Welcome", correct? When I was a Protestant, in some denominations the "love feasts" and the "fellowship" were often emphasized to the exclusion of the idea of worshiping a thrice-holy God. I know that both the vertical and the horizontal present the truth. ~ Rosemary A.

Unknown said...

Thank You, Father! This was an excellent homily. I especially liked the part about bring kids to the Mass. After hearing what you had to say about the graces recieved, I thought "how can you not bring your kids to Mass?"!

Paul said...

Fr. - I check into your blog about every other week. And I read it. I try not to comment so that I don't become conceited.
Don't worry, you're read and you're one of the better priest bloggers - right up there with Fr. Z.