Homily for February 21

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Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

So… the pope and Trump: Francis and the Donald.
Never thought I’d begin a homily with those two names
in the same sentence.

I have no intention of adding to the political commentary
on what the pope and the candidate said this past week
about building walls
but I will comment on the theology of the pope’s remarks
because he echoes so clearly a thought in today’s second reading.

The last thing the pope was trying to do was to give advice
on whom to vote for in the caucuses and primaries.
He said, and I quote, “I’m not going to get involved in that.”

Francis was echoing what we heard from St. Paul this morning
where he wrote:  
“Our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
That’s the context out of which Francis speaks.
When he hears about building walls he thinks of Jesus saying:
 I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me…”
“I was hungry and you gave me food,
thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
That’s where Francis is coming from.
He’s concerned with what’s in our hearts
and with how open our hearts are to our neighbor
because our neighbor is Christ himself.

Politically, the pope is a citizen of Vatican State.
Theologically, spiritually, his citizenship is in heaven.
And he’s calling us, all of us, to acknowledge the same,
that our first allegiance is to the Lord – above all others.

No, the pope’s passport doesn’t say he’s a citizen of Heaven:
his passport lets his person, his body, pass from country to country,
across borders and through customs.
But his heart’s passport is the gospel
because his heart has another loyalty, a first loyalty
the one which St. Paul names as citizenship
in the Lord’s kingdom.

There is nothing wrong in Christians being citizens of their native land,
provided they acknowledge a primary and deeper loyalty
to a homeland they are spending their lives preparing
to enter one day.
The documentation we’ll need to cross over to that homeland
is not a passport carried in one’s pocket, but rather
a heart open and disposed to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

Certainly there are many ways to think about national borders
and the plight of refugees.
Some of those ways will be more Christian than others, some less.
More important than one’s plan or scheme for handling immigration
is the question of whether and how much
one’s heart is open –or closed-
to welcoming and serving Christ who stands at the door and knocks,
Christ who is the hungry and homeless stranger, the alien, the refugee.

How can we not think, here, of Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall”
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.

Such a caution should find a place in every human heart
and certainly in every Christian heart.

Perhaps this Lent we might invite Christ
to open our hearts for us to probe a little and to ask, each of us,
 “To what homeland do I owe my deepest allegiance?
In what homeland do I claim my citizenship –
not the one on my passport, but the one in my heart?”

Might we look at the walls we’ve built in our own lives? in our hearts?
And might we ask,
What and whom am I walling in?
What and whom am I walling out?
Can we not find at least something in our hearts
 “that doesn’t love a wall?”

When we look at Christ upon the Cross we see no wall at all.
All is open, all is laid bare, all is there for all to have.
All are welcome to enter into the kingdom he won for us
by laying down his life for us.

At this table we celebrate, even now, the place we hope will be ours
when we reach the homeland of our hearts
when this life ends and eternity begins.
This table is open to all who would invite Christ into their hearts
even as he invites us into his.

Pray with me this Lent that any walls we’ve built
between us and God, between us and our neighbor,
will begin to come down,
and that we’ll find that in a Christian’s heart
there is indeed something “that does not love a wall.”


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1 comment:

  1. The pope, Donald Trump, and Robert Frost walk into a bar. But there's a wall separating the bar from the stools. Donald Trump said "The wall is to keep us out". The Pope said "But I have a Harvey Wallbanger." Robert Frost asked, "Are we walled in or walled out?" Donald Trump left the bar and the Pope and the poet drank to that.


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