If you learn nothing else – Homily for Thursday, January 19, 2017

If you learn nothing else

Readings for Today

As a teacher, I have had those moments when trying to make a point I say, “If you learn nothing else …” Usually what that means is that I am trying to make clear the point is important.  You need to pay attention.  This will be on the test.  Write this down.  Learn this.

In the Letter to the Hebrews today, this point is made.  Pay attention, because Jesus is a high priest unlike any other.  The sacrifice will never again be offered over and over.  Christ the High Priest has offered the sacrifice once for all on the cross.  There is no need to do this over and over again,  because no human action can compare to the divine action of the Christ.

This was a particular point of controversy during the Middle Ages, specifically at the Council of Trent.  Some made the claim that by celebrating Mass every day, Catholics were sacrificing Christ over and over again.  But, such is not the case.  At Mass we enter into the one sacrifice of Christ, made once for all.  The word used is anamnesis, a time when we enter into the timeless mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

And so, if you learn nothing else, remember that today you and I are once again invited into the beautiful and divine life of God.  And that is indeed quite important and very beautiful.

Homily for Friday, May 29, 2015

Readings for Today

For most, the worst thing to happen is to be forgotten. Think of a children whose parents forget to pick them up. Or how about when a person is forgotten when a relationship comes to an end. It is not a pleasant feeling. It can make us angry, frustrated, sad, depressed.

There are many instances when we seek to remember others. We just celebrated Memorial Day. We take time to make sure that our heroes are not forgotten. It is not unusual to have Masses offered to remember deceased loved ones. We remember specific anniversaries of significant events.

At wakes, we often tell stories we remember about the deceased loved ones. We do not want to forget significant events we remember about those who we love and care about. By the use of the great gift of memory, past events become real, if only for a time. Since human beings are in need of connections, it is often an important priority to seek to remember people that are dear to us.

But we also know there can be times when people do not remember us. We know there can be those persons who are forgotten. Even we ourselves can feel that we do not matter in the lives of others, if only for a time. But today’s reading reminds us that as much as humans have the need to be remembered, we can feel forgotten. We can feel sometimes like no one cares.

But God can not forget. We hear this message throughout the Scriptures. Even if human beings forget, God can never forget us. The love of God is too great. The immensity of God simply cannot forget those he created in love. Isaiah the prophet tells us that even if a mother can forget, God cannot. Jesus assures us in the gospels he did not lose even one of those given him by God. And each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we discover again and again that God remains real to us in a way more powerful than anything. So, while we might forget, while we might feel forgotten, we simply cannot be forgotten by God.

Homily for Monday, December 29, 2014

Readings for Today

Whenever families get together, invariably there is the telling of stories. One of the most precious faculties given to human beings is memory. Using our memory, we can make real, at least in some way, events in the past. In a way, our memory is a time of time machine. Memories often come alive with the telling of stories. The gospel today presents us with a powerful example of a person who remained true to the experience of God, both in the present, and in the memory of the promise made some time ago.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.” Over and over again Simeon wondered, I suspect, if today was the day. But it also seems clear that day after day Simeon remained faithful to God and the promise. We learn that Simeon was righteous and devout. And his constant search for God comes to fruition when he encounters not only Mary and Joseph, but recognizes in their son Jesus, the Christ. God has kept his promise.

Simeon could believe the promise because his memory made this promise real. He was able to experience again the encounter and voice of the Holy Spirit because he remembered the day, the moment, the encounter. His memory of God, and his present experience of God made clear the meaning and purpose of his life. In fact, we really know very little about Simeon. What gets remembered is his faithfulness to God and the encounter with the Holy Family.

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