Homily for Thursday, November 20, 2014

Readings for Today

I  have been teaching long enough, that my former students are now grown adults, raising families of their own. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction and pride, as I witness on the one hand, people that I remember as young adolescents seeking to find out how to live their life, and now watching them raise their own children. Many of you have seen the same cycle in your own lives. For those of you who are parents,  when your children are grown and have children of their own, I would suspect that there is a certain sense of pride as you see your own children rise to the occasion, becoming great parents, in raising your grandchildren. And  as you watch your grandchildren challenge your children in the very same ways that your children challenged you, you might even take a little bit of satisfaction.

Unfortunately, there are also moments, when grandparents witnessed their grandchildren, or their own children, or in my case a teacher who witnesses a former student, who winds up in a great deal of trouble. Sad to say, I have also had former students who threw very bad choices, have found themselves in a very difficult place. Just as there is a certain type of pride that exists when students succeed, there is a deep sadness that occurs when students do not. I know that this sadness exists also for parents when their children don’t live up to their expectations. I know for many parents, who have grown adult children, there can be a deep sadness when they’re grown adult children do not embrace the faith in the way that they do.

At this stage in the Gospels, Jesus finds himself looking over  Jerusalem. And as he considers what appears to be inevitably his fate, he is filled with sadness, as he realizes what could have been. Because God has made us free, and the people of Jerusalem were also free, they are able to reject Jesus. And so, is not unusual for Jesus to be sad. It is a natural human instinct to want to protect those we love. As Jesus becomes more conscious of the fate that awaits him, namely his passion and death on the cross, he is filled with sadness of those who might experience similar suffering.

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Homily for Friday, July 18, 2014

Readings for Today

Put your house in order.  Usually when we are told to put our house in order, it is not good news.  Something significant is about to come to an end.  Such is the case with Hezekiah in the first reading.  He is learning that he will die.  And his reaction is understandable.  He throws himself into prayer.  He is distraught, and reminds God of the powerful relationship God has made with him.

If we were told to get our house in order, what would we focus on?  For Hezekiah, it is his relationship with God.  He reminds God of all that has happened.  He reminds God of the many ways in which the grace of God has enable Hezekiah to do great things in the name of the Lord.  I am not sure that I could be as gracious at such a time.  I might be begging for healing, or wondering who I would leave my stuff too, or I might even be angry at God that such things were happening to me.  Some might even panic, wondering for the first time about their destiny.

How is it there can be two such different reactions, panic and grace?  Is it not because of God’s grace that Hezekiah is able to turn immediately to prayer?  Is it not because of the many things Hezekiah has done, his habit of considering God that has made such a difference?  After all, unlike his father Ahaz, who gave himself over to everything that was not of God, Hezekiah worked to make God a priority not only for himself personally, but also for the people he served as their king.

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Homily for Thursday March 6, 2014

Readings for Today

When we think of freedom, we often think that being free means to do whatever we want, when we want.   We can easily see that to be free is to have no limits to our activity.  And on one level, such a world might seem quite attractive.  But those who have made significant choices in their lives, like to get married, to have children, or even to have a pet, come soon to realize that while they were free in making these choices, they were not free in being able to do whatever they want.  They chose to be responsible in their choice to a new way of living.  Doing whatever we want might seem like freedom, but in fact, it is license.  And if we do not control our license, then usually it controls us.

We might like to eat all the candy we could possibly eat, we might like to be totally free in every relationship, or even being totally free in the way we treat others.  But if we were totally free, without limits, we would soon discover that this choices of license, choosing to eat candy or vegetables, would create in us a world were we would find these unfettered choices leave us less free.

The type of freedom that we seek, to be truly our authentic selves, means often that we need to set limits for ourselves, and choose to do things we might not want to do.  What parent really wants to get up at 2am to care for a sick child?  What person on a diet does not know they need to limit what they want to eat?  In this second type of freedom, it is not emphasizing what we want to do, but rather, whom do we wish to become?

It is this second type of freedom, where the focus is on becoming, not doing, that is emphasized in today’s first reading.  “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.”  I think these words are a good way to begin Lent.  Do we choose life or death?

The purpose of self-denial is really to help us to discover what is really important in our lives.  We might give up something we really like for Lent, in order to focus on something more important.  We might choose to give up Facebook for Lent, in order to focus more upon prayer.  We might choose to give up sweets, to help us focus more on the significant suffering others might have in their lives. We might seek to be more charitable to those in need, to be kind to the co-worker who drives us up the wall, or to find some time for silent reflection to examine our relationship with God.

Moses challenges us to choose life, that fulfilling life that is eternal.  Too often though, the temptation is not to focus on our relationship with Jesus, but rather to check off a set of rules.  This matters because when we focus only on the Ten Commandments, for example, we could become proud.  We might be able to say that we have not stolen, lied, committed adultery, murdered or blasphemed.  But have we really entered into that type of conversion which moves our friendship with Jesus deeper and deeper?

Choosing life means focusing upon making the most of the precious gift we have been given of ourselves.  God has made us in his image.  We are called to something more wonderful that we can possibly imagine.  And so we are asked, “Do you choose life or death, the blessing or the curse.”   Choose life.