Sunday, September 09, 2018

How Jesus heals us and our Church (Sunday homily)

The past few weeks, I’ve touched on some bad news we’re all taking in. 
And I was hoping to take a different direction this week.
But I couldn’t help thinking about all that discouragement 
as I read these words in the first reading:

“Thus says the Lord: Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!” 

We’re going to get through this.

But I thought about how much damage these scandals do.
And how many people are just laughing and mocking our Faith!
And I asked myself, how will people know Jesus is here?
How will they know this is God’s Church?

And it dawned on me:
They will know – not because of the sign in front of the church;
Not because of our history, important as that is;
Not because our church is pretty, 
or because we have sharp arguments for Catholicism 
that we learned from someone on the Internet.

No; they will know Christ is in our midst 
when they see the “eyes of the blind” being opened,
and deaf ears cleared, and those who are mute singing for joy.

In other words, maybe for the time being,
our focus isn’t on the Church; 
but on Jesus Christ!

Or, to put it another way: maybe for a while, 
it will be less about the words people hear us speak, 
and much more about the lives they see us live.

If there is blindness in our leaders – and there is – 
You and I aren’t going to fix it ourselves. 
If the voice of the Church is mute, because we’ve lost our credibility, 
only Jesus Christ is going to be able to heal that.

There’s a detail in the Gospel that maybe you noticed. 
It says, Jesus looked up to heaven, and he groaned!
Or it could be that he sighed. Why would Jesus react this way?

He’s feeling the weight of doubt and fear in the crowd;
The darkness and sin that hold so many captive.
All these things that need to be healed.
He feels the heaviness of all the lives
who need to be reconciled to God.

He knows that weight – he will carry it on Good Friday 
and it will knock him to the ground three times – 
but three times he gets back up and finishes his journey to the Cross. 
He sees it through.

Jesus knows the weight that is on your heart, on mine.
He knows; he feels it. 
Some of us need our eyes opened so we’ll see 
what we really don’t want to see – but we know it’s there.
The sin you and I aren’t quite ready to leave behind.
The help we are too proud to seek out.

Many of us have yet to find the words 
to speak to family, or fellow students at school, or coworkers:
Words of forgiveness, of apology, of reconciliation, of kindness.
If you ask, Jesus will loose your tongue and you will speak freely.
Ask, and the Holy Spirit will supply the courage.

So in other words, with the Church facing wounds and shame, 
what will lift our hearts? What will be light for us and others?

The healing I just described – and more beside – active in our midst. 
When folks see that, they will know we are Christians.

And if you can’t see any way to be part of this…
If you can’t identify anyone around you who needs any kind of healing,
and you can’t think of any way you can help make it happen…
If you can’t find one single person who needs Christ’s love,
Both in words and in deeds…

Then may I suggest that it might be you who needs to cry out to Jesus:
Lay your hands on me, Lord! Open my eyes, Lord! 
Help me to see how I can be healing to another!

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