Homily for July 6

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Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

(Following the text of my homily you can listen to David Haas'
You Are Mine which we sang in my parish this weekend at the
preparation of the gifts.)

Audio for homily

Over the last couple of days,
most of us have probably seen an image of the Statue of Liberty.
And perhaps we’ve read or heard the lines of a sonnet,
written by Emma Lazarus and preserved on a brass plaque
inside the statue’s pedestal base, these well-known five lines:

Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shores,
send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Those familiar words echoed in my mind over the Fourth of July
as I worked on my homily and pondered these words of Jesus:

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart; 
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

Both Lady Liberty and Jesus offer an invitation.
Both invite the weary, the burdened, the least among us,
to come to a place of rest and refreshment, a home, a haven,
to a heart open and ready to receive those who have nowhere to go.
It might be a good idea to have a bronze plaque installed
at the doors of every church, with the words of Jesus
inviting  the weary and burdened 
to come in and find rest here, in Jesus.

And of course, that’s just why many of us are here today – isn’t it?

We come here not just out of obligation
but because we find here a community of prayer to hold us,
a song to join in singing to lift our spirits,
a word of truth and wisdom to instruct and console us,
and a sacrament to nourish us
and heal the brokenness we carry with us.

We come here, all of us, wearied and burdened
with our failings, our hurt and disappointments,
our loss and our pain.

When you consider the heavy hearts so many of us bring:
bearing the weight of discouragement;
the excess baggage of worries;
the backpacks of guilt and anxiety;
suit cases of confusion -
you’d think the floor would collapse beneath it all
– but it doesn’t.

Because Jesus holds us all together.
The “floor” beneath our hearts’ sanctuary does not collapse
because our burdens are carried by Christ.

And yet, I wonder… 
I wonder if we are sometimes slow to take him up on his invitation
to come to him and find our rest in him…

In a community like Concord,
in a state like Massachusetts, in the US of A,
when we’re in trouble:
whom do we go to first,
whose help do we first seek out,
whose assistance do we first apply for
when we’re hurting, in need, afraid, worried and burdened?

We live in a culture of professional assistance. 
We raise our families in a society where more often than not
there’s always some expert to call for help.
Specialists in virtually every field are but a phone call away.
Within an hour’s drive or less
we have access to some of the greatest health care in the world.
And if there’s something we need that we can’t afford: we charge it.

By contrast, I think back to my several trips to Haiti,
meeting and visiting people who live in abject poverty,
in shacks or in single room dwellings with a dozen people,
owning nothing, depending on charity for their daily food
and medical assistance if it’s available.

But consider this: the Haitian people are people of great faith,
not because God has answered all their prayers – God has not…
But because in many ways God, and the love of God, are all they have
and when God is all you have – you have everything…

In so many ways, you and I have more than we need
– so much more than we need.
So, what becomes of God in our lives, yours and mine,
when we have so much?
When we have so many places to go for help,
what’s the Lord’s place on our list of emergency contacts?
In a culture of instant response and solution and remedy,
how will we raise our children, our “little ones” as Jesus calls them,
how will we raise our children to have faith as great
as their little brothers and sisters in Haiti?

We should, of course, praise and thank God for all we have!
We should be very grateful and not take for granted
all that is ours and available to us so immediately.
But, like Lady Liberty, we need to hold the golden lamp of gratitude
to light the way for the “huddled masses yearning”
for the freedom we enjoy,
for the “homeless, tempest-tost” who seek a place on our shores,
in our communities, in our hospitals and at our tables.
And we need to look again at how faithfully we turn to Jesus
when we find ourselves weary and burdened,
in need of rest and light.

And most important of all, we need to pass on to our children
our faith that when you have God in your life and in your heart
then, indeed, you have everything you truly need.

Pray with me that in this summer time,
a season for seeking light and rest,
pray that this summer you and I turn to the Lord
who offers us refreshment no other source can provide;
who makes room for us at his table,
who invites us to communion with him in the Eucharist,
offering us healing for our pain and amnesty for our sins
Pray that we learn from his meek and humble heart
and find ways to welcome others,
that we might more generously share the bounty that is ours.

You Are Mine
You Are Mine by David Haas on Grooveshark


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