Homily for August 26

Homily for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


This past week,
with items about the Church still clouding the daily news,
I enjoyed the great joy and blessing of being part of our parish VBS,
Vacation Bible School,
9 to noon, Monday through Friday,
with 44 young VBS campers and 37 teen and adult leaders.

Our VBS was a daily reminder for me, actually more than a reminder,
it was an experience for me of what the Church is called to be
and called to offer to its families and its youth
and that even in the darkest of times,
church life continues to thrive and flourish.

I needed that experience last week
and I wish all of you could have shared in it with me.

Our Vacation Bible School was a living example of Joshua’s words
in today’s first reading:
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua is speaking to the tribes of Israel, inviting them
to choose God above all else and to renew the covenant
God had made with them.
Joshua speaks first for his own family,
 “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Then the whole people of Israel say the same.

That line of scripture was a favorite of my mother.
Right inside the front door of our home
was a framed copy of that verse from Joshua:
 “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

So I was pleased, about 20 years ago
when I found this throw with an image of a house
and the quote from Joshua.

So, except for this morning,
this throw is on my recliner in my living room
where I crash at the end of the day
and fall into Joshua’s words
and remember my mother.

In today’s gospel we heard how,
when  the message of Jesus became just too much
for some of his followers to accept and live with
- they left him - and went back to their old way of life.

As the number of his followers slowly diminished,
Jesus asked those closest to him,
 “So, are you going to leave, too?”
I’m sure that they were sorely tempted to do just that.
But Peter speaks up and says,
 “Where would we go, Lord? Who would we follow?
Only you, Lord, have the word of eternal life.
We’ve come to believe in you and we’re convinced
that you are God’s Holy One.
We’re sticking with you.”

Well… where are we going to go?
Who are we going to follow?

We find ourselves in a time of crisis,
a time of disillusionment and deep disappointment.
a time when we may not be sure who to follow,
not sure who we want to follow.

Of course, most Catholics can distinguish between
their faith in Jesus and their confidence in church leadership
but they also know that while the fullness of Christ’s presence
is found in the Catholic faith,
Jesus is not limited to,
nor his presence and power circumscribed by
the Roman Catholic Church.

So here’s where we need to remember the words of Joshua:
 “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

And for weal or for woe, in good times and in bad,
the Catholic Church is our household of faith.

I’m keenly aware of how many of us Catholic people
have lost trust and confidence
in our pope and bishops and priests
- and for good reason.

But that prompts another question:
 “Have we also lost confidence in the people of God?
Have we lost trust and confidence in our household of faith,
in the people of the Catholic Church?
I hope not.  I know I have not.
In fact, the people of the Catholic Church are my hope.

I hope -and I pray-
that you’ve not lost confidence in God’s people.

I hope  -and I pray-
that you’ve not lost trust in our household of faith.

I hope  -and I pray-
you’ll remain members of our household
where we, together, pledge and  promise to serve the Lord.

We need to remember
that the Church is not the hierarchy. 
The Church is not the ordained.
The Church is the Body of Christ and by virtue of your baptism,
YOU are the Church, you are the members of Christ’s Body,
and Christ, not the pope, not the bishops, not the priests,
he, Christ Jesus, is our head.

In a few moments we’ll go to the altar,
to the Table of our household of faith.
And there, Christ Jesus, the head of our household
will nourish us with his very life
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

Pray with me that he who is our Good Shepherd
will lead us safely through this dark valley
and bring us again, his household of faith, to light and peace.

In the meantime, may we, the People of God, our household of faith,
may we pledge to serve the Lord as his Body, in the Church.


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