Homily for Sunday, December 7, 2014

Readings for Today

I do not know of anyone who likes being sick. I know I do not. But not only is it bad to be sick, when I am sick, I feel like a scared little kid. I want my mom. There was something reassuring about having my mom around when I was sick. Unless it was a school day. Then it was necessary first to prove that you were sick. Well, not too much. Sometimes the sickness was obvious, like throwing up or diarrhea. Other times it involved a fever which also usually provided enough of a clue. There was the time I missed a week of school to pneumonia, and my parents suggested that after a week maybe I needed to get up an around to feel better. I was so tired of being stuck in the house I agreed. The problem was that while it did feel good to get out of the house on Saturday, the next day, Sunday brought the compression of multi-ton concrete blocks on my chest that is typical of being sick with pneumonia. I felt awful. The time with pneumonia was the only time ever I think I did not go to a Sunday Mass. (I even insisted on the day of my First Communion, even though I really was quite sick, that I felt well enough to make my First Communion that day. Unfortunately, I was really sick, and got sick and had to leave church. Oh well.

In one way or another, we all seek comfort when we encounter something unpleasant. It is only natural that we try to avoid suffering. When I was sick with pneumonia, there were a number of ways I could have tried to avoid suffering. But it was only the skill of the doctor who knew which medicine would make me well that I was able to get well. Unfortunately, avoiding suffering does not always seem to provide such an obvious choice. We sometimes seek to avoid suffering in a way that cannot eliminate it. The choice is knowing where to look to receive the right type of healing that actually has worth.

We know there are a variety of options. But we know that what appears to be healing is not always so. Sometimes things are presented as a healing but rather than complete healing, it only provides partial relief. Sometimes not even that, as what appears to be healing can actually make things worse. People who seek to avoid pain by using drugs or alcohol often discover the solution ultimately is worse than the suffering. Or, sometimes we throw ourselves so much into work to get the most our of life, but they lose what is most valuable in their lives.

Sometimes someone experiences a great trauma early in their lives which causes a great deal of pain. Sometimes the pain is no where near as great. Whatever it is, again and again we can face choices about what will bring relief. Just as real healing from my pneumonia came from medicine, and not anything else, to receive real healing, real comfort we must seek for it in the right place.

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Homily for Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Today’s Readings

When I was first ordained a priest, I remember my aunt making a very simple request of me. She said, “Go easy on us, Father. Life is hard.” Like many quotes that seem simple at the time, it was only after having been involved in parochial ministry for a while that I realized the deep truths of what my aunt is asking. Life is hard.

People die. People get sick. The world can be a violent place. Too many people in our world to not even have the basic necessities of life. Moreover, we also worry about our children, become stressed over our jobs, find it difficult to balance the multitude of demands that are present in our lives, and perhaps most of all, seek to discover what all of this activity, all of the sadness, and all of the struggling really means.

So just as yesterday as we focused on the question of dryness, today our attention is drawn to the God who provides comfort. It is a gentle reminder to us that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it. Rather then remind us that we simply do not measure up, Jesus comes to provide us the deep comfort that only he can give.

Today’s reading from the prophet Isaiah, reminds us that while there are many things that do not last, God’s word, and God’s love, are not among them. They last. and the arrival of our God is not simply a weak moment where we might have to guess about the plan and purpose of God. Rather this coming of God will be known to all. For God comes with power, but the type of power where we know we are safe because we have a Savior.

The Gospel reading is that tender reminder that God always seeks us out when we are lost. This gospel is always about the one lost sheep. And when each one of us reads this gospel and hears these words of Jesus, we are once again reminded that we are the lost sheep. But it is not that we wander off and become lost without hope. Jesus is our hope. Christ is our hope. The confidence that we are called to have his well-placed. This is because we are called to be confident in God’s love for us, not doubting but believing.

And so, we’re called on this day, to turn our attention to that life-giving eternal relationship with God. That in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle of our lives, we are challenged to remember God. We are challenged to turn those areas of our lives over, those areas which produce stress, because we find ourselves relying too much on our own efforts. We are challenged to remember the God who provides comfort, because this God seeks us out always whenever we are lost.