Saturday, May 23, 2009

Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter


Word frequency in Constitution on Church in Modern World
Image by Many-Eyes
(Click on image for larger version)

This gospel can be confusing!
Jesus tells us that we’re IN the world,
that indeed he SENDS us into the world
even though we don’t BELONG to the world, and what’s more:
he’s not going to ask his Father to take us OUT of the world -
he will only ask to keep us from the evil one…

There’s a great document from Vatican Council II titled:
The Pastoral Constitution On The Church In The Modern World.

Here’s its first sentence:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and anxieties
of the people of this age,

especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted,

are the joys and hopes,
the griefs and anxieties
of the followers of Christ.

Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.

“Genuinely human…”
There, I believe, is the key to our understanding today’s gospel.

Our relationship with the world is meant to be our intimacy
with everything that is genuinely human within it
because we can be sure that whatever is genuinely human is from God
- and not from the “evil one.”

What belongs to God is genuinely human and therefore belongs to us -
and what belongs to the evil one - is not.

Knowing the difference between the two20is the task
and it’s not always an easy one.

Although my conscience should be a good guide here,
if I let my conscience get out of shape for lack of exercising it,
I can begin to blur the distinctions so important for discerning
what is genuinely human and so deserving of an echo in my heart -
and what is not.

How might I get my conscience back in shape?
Consider the ancient counsel that we should pray
when we rise in the morning and pray when we go to sleep at night.

If I pray as I begin my day,
I ask God to accompany me, to walk with me
through all the situations, circumstances, relationships,
conversations and desires my day may bring me.

Or are there parts of my day, things on my schedule, plans I have
I’d prefer God not be part of?
things God might prefer not to be part of?

If I pray for and plan my day to be genuinely human,
then there’ll be no part of my day
I’d want to exclude from God’s company.

And in the evening, when I look back on the day behind me,
how much of my day do I want to share with God, place in his hands
for safe-keeping through the night?

Or are their parts of my day
(situations, circumstances, relationships, conversations and desires)
I’d prefer to keep in my back pocket,
hoping that God won’t see them?

Chances are, moments I’m inclined to hide from God
may be less than genuinely human
and less than deserving of an echo in my heart
as I say goodnight to the Lord.

The same is true at the Lord’s table when we gather on Sunday,
sorting out a week’s worth of living in the world,
discerning the genuinely human by sharing what is genuinely divine
in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
At this altar, Jesus (himself so genuinely human and genuinely divine)
nourishes our desire to belong to him,
consecrating our humanity in the truth of the Word,
that our lives might echo the divine,
the will of the Father of Jesus, God of us all.

May the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties
of the people of our world
especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted,
be our joys and hopes, our grief and anxiety
as we follow Christ.

May nothing genuinely human fail to raise an echo in our hearts.

-ConcordPastor

6 comments:

Flit said...

Oh how happy I am to read your homily--we were away and heard that our world is the hostile world---so sad-so depressing--so not worth hearing-
Thank you again for all the time you give of your self in spreading the Good News

St Edwards Blog said...

This is amazing - I will be praying with this for awhile, thank you.

I am so glad that I will sit in the pews of your church this coming Sunday and that I will, at last, hear you preach... and on Pentecost no less!

Fran

Novo said...

What a simple suggestion that would guide many of us to better lives: a prayer in the morning and a prayer at night.

Anonymous said...

sometimes there are things I do in my day that the people of the church for many years have said are wrong, but in my heart I think God would not think they are wrong and I'm happy to share these thank yous with Him when I pray. How do I discern the truth?

ConcordPastor said...

There's the very hard part: discerning the truth, discerning what is "genuinely human" from what is not.

One place to start (and something that was at one stage part of my homily) would be to look at what is not genuinely human. At one point I was going to sort of review the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride). The value in this list is that, as some have said, a vice is a virtue run amuck. There are many instincts that are genuinely human but which become less than that when twisted in a selfish way.

Certainly, just because I feel something as a human does not make it true or good. I have many human feelings which lead me away from God's truth. I discern what's true through studying the scriptures, through understanding the Church's teaching and through prayerful reflection on my own life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your response. It's very helpful. I also like hearing what doesn't make the final cut in your homilies!