Homily for Friday, August 10, 2012

Readings for Today

Go big or go home.  Go all in.  Leave it all out on the field.  There are any number of phrases that are used to describe that for things that are perceived to be really big, it simply is not possible to hold back.  For things that really matter, we have to make our commitment total.  No where is this more true than when we discuss our vocation.

Think about it.  We do not praise married couples if they only are sort of committed to each other.  It is not true parenthood if one is a sometimes parent.  We have experienced on many levels the deep pain betrayal of religious vows has been for the community in the Church.  When we see leaders more concerned for themselves than for others, we know it is not an “all in” statement of faith.

The first reading is very blunt.  The way to be all in is to be attentive to the poor.  God has a special place for the poor, and time and again we hear that it is our treatment of the poor that is essential as Christians.  More than once I saw on Facebook the saying that Christians certainly were not to be seen at a soup kitchen or a food bank.  And while we do not do things for show, we must consider carefully the words of Jesus that we will become known for our love.

Many Christians that I know are all in.  They volunteer in soup kitchens, donate to food banks, provide free medical and dental care to the poor, they literally try to live Jesus admonition that how we treat one another is the way we treat Jesus.  But this is not simply a club of community service.  It is important to find that time, that quiet reflective time where we allow God to shape us, to form us, into an even deeper reflection of himself.

“Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies”, unless we allow God to mold the worst parts of ourselves away in love, so that we can reflect the images of the divine in what we do, we remain less than we could be.  Many major religions have this dynamic as an important consideration of faith.  For Buddhists, for example, it is eliminating the things to which we are attached, that is the important task of a life of meaning.

Today’s readings, on this feast of St. Lawrence, who gave his life for the faith, reminds me that I too need to give all for the faith.  But that is not far away.  It is as close as the poor person in need, the person who reminds me to seek out always the face of Jesus in the poor.