Sunday, October 20, 2019

Get to work! (Sunday homily)

When I was a boy, all I wanted to do on Saturday mornings 
was eat big bowls of cereal and watch cartoons. 

My parents had other ideas:
Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, taking out the garbage, 
cleaning my room, helping get the house in order,
or working with my dad in the garden or with his business. 

Whether I liked it or not, I had to do my part in the family.
And our Father in heaven operates according to the same principle.

Everything I have, everything I am, was a gift.
My parents did so much for me! 
I didn’t earn what I received and I can’t pay it back;
And, again, it’s the same in the spiritual life.

None of us deserves God giving us life, 
and giving us salvation in Jesus Christ. 
None of us is worthy of having our Lord come to earth 
and live among us and giving himself for us on the Cross.

And then to have God continue to forgive us, over and over, 
in the sacrament of confession? 
To have the Lord Jesus give us his own flesh and blood, 
his own life, in the Holy Eucharist? 
To receive the help of the Holy Spirit, of the angels and saints, 
throughout our lives, all the way to heaven?
How can any of us dare to think we either deserve this, 
or can ever repay this love?

Even so, it remains that each of us has a job to do.
We’re part of a family. 
It’s only right that we contribute our part.

What is God’s work? It is redemption and conversion of hearts.
You and I are messengers, 
ambassadors for Christ in a world losing its bearings. 
Saint Paul told Timothy to pray and know the Scriptures, 
so that he could better share his faith 
and point people in the right way.

If you agree that God has been good to you, unbelievably good to you,
 maybe one of your chores is to know your Faith better?
So that when topics come up in conversation, 
you can give a helpful answer?

In the first reading, God’s People are in the thick of battle.
Moses is praying, his arms so weary that the priests are holding him up.

Jesus Christ is our Moses, who leads us, and intercedes for us.
Yet he also said: to be my disciple, “take up your cross.”
One of the most important ways you and I share in Christ’s work is with prayer.

When I was in Piqua, I had a priest visit who talked about
the power of spending time adoring the Holy Eucharist. 
And he said something surprising that I never forgot. 

He said: “we really don’t like to pray.” He’s right!
Sure, there are some of us have a gift for praying for hours.
But most of us, if we are honest, it’s a chore.
There’s always something else we’d rather do.
You and I try to pray, and we can’t keep on it – our mind wanders.
Maybe our back hurts or we get impatient.

What really wears us out is that we have to keep asking, asking, asking.
The same sins and habits every time you and I go to confession.
Don’t be surprised, and don’t be discouraged. It IS work!

What is true for our personal prayer, is true above all about Holy Mass, 
which is the supreme prayer of Jesus and of us, as his Church.

Where did people get the idea that Mass is supposed to be convenient, 
catering to our needs, and certainly not demanding too much?

Do you know what the Mass really is?

It is a lot like Moses being up on that mountain, begging God’s help;
and you and I are standing there, holding up his arms.

Because, in fact, it is not Moses, but Jesus: on the Cross, 
pleading for us and for the world, that grace will be poured out on us.
And none of us is a spectator. Jesus asks our help!

Look down on the battlefield, and tell me: how’s it going?
Does it look like our side is winning? 

Then there’s more work to do. For each one of us.

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