Homily for January 17

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

Audio for homily

In some ways we are so familiar with the scriptures,
and in other ways so distanced from them,
that we can easily miss the depth and breadth and the sensuality
of the Lord’s word due to its familiarity - or its mystery.

And that’s a shame.

In Isaiah, the Lord is speaking here to Israel, his people,
as a lover speaks to the beloved.
He says, “I’m going to call you by a new name...”
In the same way lovers have special, even secret names for each other.
“No more,” says the Lord “no more
will you be called ‘Forsaken’ or ‘Desolate.’
I have a new name for you. I will call you, ‘My delight,’
because you make me happy and you are my joy.
I delight in you as a bridegroom is pleased by his bride,
as a bride is pleased by her groom.
As spouses delight in each other
so do I delight in you, my people, my chosen, my beloved.”

So the Lord spoke to Israel in ancient times,
and so the Lord speaks to us today, in Concord.
Without exception, the Lord delights in each and every one of us.
Whether we are short or tall, fat or slim,
whatever our color, whatever our race, whatever our creed,
whatever our failings, our gifts  - “whatever our whatever” –
the Lord delights in each of us,
even, and maybe especially, when we don’t delight in ourselves.

“Whatever our gifts...” - that’s Paul’s word to us today.

The Lord delights in the gifts each of us has
as the lover delights in the beauty of the beloved.
But maybe you listened to the list in Corinthians and felt left out.

Paul mentions gifts of healing, of mighty deeds, of prophecy,
and discernment, and the gift of speaking in the Spirit...
But Paul says that ALL gifts, different gifts, come from the Spirit!

The gifts named in First Corinthians are only a partial listing.
There are many others.
• Some have the gift of faith and others the gift of doubt
that leads us to question and grow in our faith.
• Some have the gift of healing
and others the gift of naming what needs to be healed.
• Some have the gift of mighty deeds
others the gift of smaller deeds, here and there,  now and then,
but deeds that make a difference nonetheless.
• Some have the simple gifts of a warm smile, a listening heart,
a kind word, a shoulder to lean on, a helping hand...
• Some have the gift of uttering the hard saying
and others the gift of speaking a word of comfort.
• Some have the gift of tears, others the gift of laughter.
• Some have the gift of leading the way
and others the gift of faithfully following.
• Some have the gift of loving generously
and others the gift of allowing themselves to be loved.

“But,” Paul writes, “one and the same Spirit produces ALL these gifts.”
Many different gifts but only one Spirit;
many different works but the same God
who produces all of them in us.
The Lord delights in our gifts, great and small,
as a lover delights in the beauty of the beloved.

The Lord’s first miracle was at a feast of love
- at the wedding celebration in Cana.
Consider all the miracles that might have been Jesus’ first miracle.
He might have solved a great mystery.
He might have cured the sick.
He might have raised someone from the dead!

But what is his first sign, his first miracle?

When the bar runs out of booze, Jesus steps in
and produces between 120 – 160  more gallons of wine!
Why does Jesus do this?
Because he wants so much to show us:
how lavish and generous is his help;
how literally overflowing is his kindness;
how much he wants to enliven our spirits;
how much he wants to inebriate us with his love.

What a shame it is that we have, over centuries,
reduced, shrunk and minimalized our notions of God’s love for us,
losing a sense of its intimate, sensuous beauty,
reducing it to a set of rules and abstractions
leaving some to wonder if God loves them at all.

What a shame if we’ve become blind to our own gifts -
that the gifts of so many are denied, ignored, and banned,
withering the body of Christ,
excluding gifts that have as their only origin
the very Spirit of God.

What a shame that we have become so accustomed to,
or distanced from the word of scripture
that many of you may think I’m simply exaggerating
the meaning of these passages.
I assure you I am not.

The intimacy and intensity of God’s love for us
is nothing short of that of lovers.

God has prepared for all his people a feast of word and wine and wisdom
and too often, too many leave the Lord’s Table thirsty and hungry.

The doors to the Lord’s feast must always remain open.
Those who try to shut and lock those doors
fail to understand God’s lavish love.
Only our sin bars our entrance, but God’s mercy is a ready key
to open the way for us to come in again.

None should be turned away:
the Lord has prepared a seat for each of us,
without exception, at the table of his gifts.

There’s always enough room to set another place,
enough wine to fill another cup,
because even today, the Lord has saved the best wine for now.

Pray with me, as the Lord feeds us here
with the intimate and lavish gift of his body and blood.

Pray that we find at this table
the Lord who delights in us
and who calls us to delight in him and in one another.


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