Sunday, August 28, 2016

Approaching Holy Mass with humility (Sunday homily)

Let me begin by pointing out something you may have noticed: 
the second reading today was also the second reading last Sunday! 
You may be wondering, how that happened. 
It happened this way: 
while the readings most weeks are assigned, last week’s were special, 
for the anniversary of this church being consecrated, 
and they were chosen by…me. I didn’t notice the coincidence.

In any case, it gives us a chance to really reflect on that reading, 
which is really about the Holy Mass. 
It describes us approaching the heavenly Jerusalem, 
where the angels and saints gather 
in celebration of the salvation won by the blood of Jesus.

So what that describes is heaven – but how do we approach that? 
We do so in the Holy Mass.

Meanwhile, the first reading and the Gospel say a lot about humility. 
And let me point out, in passing, what humility is, and is not. 
Humility is not allowing yourself to be a doormat; 
nor is it denying that you have gifts. 

To be humble is to be at peace with who you and I are, 
with the gifts God gave us. 
The more you and I realize what it means to be a child of God, 
the easier it is to have that genuine humility. 

If I need to build myself up, 
then rushing to get the place of honor makes sense. 

But if I know, deep in my heart and being, that God loves me, 
that I am destined for heaven, 
then who cares where I sit around the table? 

So how does humility come into our approach to Holy Mass?

Here’s one thing that comes to mind: 
sharing your talents generously and without false modesty. 
I didn’t ask Carla if she wants new members of the choir, 
and new singers to help at Mass, but I’m guessing she’d love that. 
Being generous with your gifts, for the benefit of others, 
is true humility. 
If you’d like to share the gift of your voice, let Carla know!

Let me thank you, parents, for the efforts you make 
to bring your families to Mass. 
I am sure there are times when you are frustrated, 
when you feel you cannot enter into prayer during Mass, 
and you wonder if it even “counts.” Be assured, it does. 

Let me highlight another way humility is at work in the Mass – 
and that is in how those, who have particular roles in Mass, 
approach their tasks. The readers come up here, 
not to put themselves forward, but God’s Word. 

The altar servers are like the seraphim and cherubim in heaven, 
who attend to the Lord’s needs, and bow down before him. 
The musicians are here to let the light of Christ 
shine through their voices and talents. 

And the priest is here, not to put himself forward, 
but to surrender 
so that Christ is clearly the priest, the prophet, and the king. 

So that’s why, for example, many – 
such as Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah and others – 
have recommended a recovery of the practice 
of the priest and people facing the same way, 
when the priest is offering the Sacrifice at the altar. 

As you know, I’ve been celebrating Mass this way on Saturday mornings
 and I’ve started doing the same on Tuesdays. 
I’m not claiming there are no merits to the priest 
facing the people at the altar – which is how it will happen at this Mass, 
and how you’re used to seeing it happen. 
And I understand everyone has different preferences, 
and I respect that.

But when the priest and the people face in the same direction, 
it helps emphasize where our focus is – on the Lord. 
And I can tell you, for many priests, 
we are tempted to ego and to draw attention to ourselves, 
and we need help being humble before the Lord.

Finally, take note of what Jesus said in the Gospel, 
about inviting those who are poor, or blind, or disabled. 
This applies to Mass. 

If you know someone who has difficulty getting to Mass, 
what can you do, what can I do, to help them get here? 
Does someone need a ride? 
Or, do you know those who want communion brought to them at home? 
Let me know, please. 

But this also applies to anyone who thinks, oh, I’m not worthy. 
Or, I don’t have the right clothes. Or who feels out of place. 
Everyone here is unworthy. 
Clothes aren’t that important; we do what we can. 
If you know folks who haven’t been here, 
don’t beat them over the head about it, but do check in with them. 
Be a friend, including a spiritual friend, to them.

Something awesome happens at this and every Mass. Let’s share it. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Again I say it: thanks, Father! So much better a homily than the one we heard yesterday at our parish...
We got chastised and browbeaten about financial support. Humility was neither spoken of nor modeled...