Homily for September 2

Image source
Homily for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


This past week I wrote a prayer for my daily blog post
and that prayer came to mind as I sat down to write this homily.
Here’s the prayer:
I'm amazed, Lord, how, at one and the same time,
the human heart can hold so many different things:  
doubt and faith,
uncertainty and trust,
alienation and acceptance,
fear and courage,
anxiety and confidence,
discouragement and hope...
So, Lord, when I hold all these in tension in my heart
at one and the same time, I pray you’ll:
fortify my faith,
deepen my trust,
affirm my acceptance,
strengthen my courage,
bolster my confidence
and be my hope...   Amen.

The human heart can hold so many things,
so many different things - at one and the same time.
In the gospel today Jesus speaks of our hearts
and he speaks to our hearts
and he speaks of what we store in our hearts.

Let’s imagine the human heart, yours and mine,
as an interior house.

• A heart is a house with many rooms, some large and some small,
some used often and others not so much.

• A heart is a house with mudrooms and storerooms
and closets and kitchen drawers
where we keep things we need - and things we don’t need.
 (How odd that we make space for what we don’t need…)

• A heart is a house with a cellar filled with all kinds of junk,
much of it musty and rusting.

• A heart is a house with an attic where old treasures are kept,
some remembered and some forgotten.

• A heart is a house with windows and curtains and drapes.
Sometimes we open them and let in the fresh air and sunshine -
and sometimes we draw the shades
and sit in the darkening shadows.

• A heart is a house and so it has walls,
walls that protect and shelter our lives
and walls that “keep out” and keep us from others.

• And a heart is a house with many residents.
I listed a few in my prayer but there are others
and these many tenants can make for unlikely housemates.
My own heart houses a number of these “odd couples”,
- which ones live in yours?

Doubt and faith,                               
uncertainty and trust,
anger and love,                                 
alienation and acceptance,
indecency and modesty,                  
anxiety and confidence,
greed and generosity,          
apathy and zeal,       
folly and wisdom,
prejudice and openness,                 
duplicity and integrity,
deceit and truth,
resentment and mercy,                               
blasphemy and blessing,
lust and purity,                     
pride and humility,  
fear and courage,
sin and grace,                                               
disbelief and worship,
envy and contentment,                   
injustice and fairness,          
arrogance and kindness,     
discouragement and hope...

The heart is a big house with many rooms
and it can hold many tenants.
It ‘s amazing, isn’t it?           
All the human heart can hold, can house -
and at one and the same time?

Jesus, of course, is the landlord of the house of my heart
- and I’m just the caretaker.
But I’m the one who decides to whom and to what
I rent space in my heart.
I’m the one who decides whom and what I let in
and whom I evict and what I throw out.
As the caretaker, I decide what’s prominently displayed
in the living room and the kitchen
and I decide what gets stored out of sight,
hidden in spare rooms, closets and drawers,
down in the cellar or up in the attic of the house of my heart.

And in my heart there’s a guest room,
a place reserved for Jesus himself,
a room where he can dwell within me,
where he can make his home in the house of my heart.

And just as any of us would clean the whole house
when company’s coming for a visit or to stay with us,
so am I called, always, to ready that guest room for Jesus
and not just the guest room - but the whole of my heart.
Not just  spring and fall cleaning here  - but summer and winter, too.
I’m called to be always about the work of cleaning my house,
from basement to attic, inside and out,
tossing and trashing whatever I find
that has no rightful place in a Christian’s heart.

I know, and perhaps you know in your hearts, too,
how easy it is to keep a room or a closet, a drawer or some place
where we secret away those things we have to need or right to keep,
those very things that have a hold on us,  that keep us from Jesus
and from his word, his grace and his love.

Like the Pharisees in the gospel we can be experts
at cleaning, shining and polishing the “cups and jugs and kettles”       
that others see in our living rooms and at our kitchen tables
while hidden from sight are those very things
that most need our attention
those things most in need of being cleansed or thrown away.

The Church is a house of hearts, too,
and it’s time, it’s past time,
for a great cleaning of her rooms
that together we might be a house of faith,
a place ready to welcome our Landlord,
our most important and beloved guest:
Christ Jesus our Savior and Redeemer.

One way for all of us to help clean the house of the Church at large
is for us to clean the chambers in our own hearts,
making ever more ready and welcoming that place in our heart of hearts
where Jesus comes to stay with us, to dwell within us.

Here, in the house of God’s people at prayer,
the Lord himself has set his table
and he offers us the supper he prepared for us
in giving himself for our sakes on the Cross.

May the sacrament we receive here nourish and strengthen us
to clean the houses of our hearts and our Church
and be ever more ready to welcome Jesus as our guest.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!