Homily for September 23

Image source

Homily for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for Mass


Yesterday I celebrated the funeral of a young man, Nick,
just 29 years old.
At the liturgy, his twin brother, Andy, spoke in remembrance of him.
I want to share with you part of what Andy said about Nick:
Nick’s obituary said that he was all heart.  And that is true.
But it wasn’t just that. There was something more.  
Something special, innocent, and unguarded
about Nick’s love for others.  
Nick loved in the same way a child loves:
without guile, pretense, or expectation.
He loved simply, directly, without pause or hesitation.  
As we grew up, Nick watched the hearts around him, including mine,
grow callus and hardened by the world.  
He watched as irony, indifference and cynicism
became the marks of sophistication.  
And he learned, the way every child eventually does,
that the land of adults is darker and more difficult
than that of children.
But miraculously, heroically, magically -- Nick’s heart never changed.  
It never hardened.
He simply refused to lose his sense of wonder, his optimism,
his gentleness, his compassion,
his ability to play, laugh, and have fun.
Sure, he may have gone through the motions of adulthood
but he was somehow immune to its weight.

Andy’s words stand in such stark contrast
to what we heard today from the Letter of James.
James wrote of a world marked by jealousy and self-ambition,
a disordered world fouled by bad practice.
He wrote of conflict, war and embattled passions,
of envy and greed.
James wrote of sin in the world
in the same way Andy spoke of hearts hardened by irony,                    
by indifference and cynicism,
by that sophistication that poses as adulthood,
and seduces us from our innocence,
tempting us with a “maturity” that ages us
- not as a fine vintage, but as good wine now gone sour.

Contrast that with Nick’s gentle spirit,
his joie de vivre, his playfulness, his awe and wonder,
his gentleness and compassion.

Contrast the supposed “maturity” of our world
with James’ description of a pure wisdom, a wisdom that is
peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy,
constant and sincere,  yielding a harvest of good fruit.

Contrast James’ vision with our world as we know it.
Constrast his vision
- with the tragic state of affairs in our Catholic Church.
- with the daily news and our nation’s politics and values.
- with life in our schools and workplaces.
- with relationships in many families and neighborhoods.
Even within our individual selves, how many of us might need
to confess the conflict, envy,
and selfish passions at war within our own hearts?

Under the guise of a false maturity,
in defense of our self-righteous ideologies and political stances,
in frustration, disappointment, anger and rushed judgments
we tear each other apart and in so doing,
rend the fabric of community intended to knit us as one.

Then Jesus, taking a child, placed the young one in their midst
and embracing that child he said to them,
Whoever receives one child such as this in my name
receives me;
and whoever receives me, receives not me
but the One who sent me.

James and Jesus call us to see,
and Andy and Nick remind us,
how easily we grow callus
and are hardened by the world around us.

Oh, how much our world needs for us to discover again
the heart, the mind, the trust of a child.

How much do we all desire to live in a wiser world,
a world that is peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy,
constant and sincere,  yielding a harvest of good fruit.

How much do we need to learn again
to live without guile, pretense, or expectation.
to love simply, directly, without pause or hesitation.

How much we need to gaze on the Cross of the love Jesus offers us:
he loved us, indeed, without guile, pretense or expectation.
He loved us simply, directly, without pause or hesitation.
He loved us with the whole of his life,
with his body and blood, his soul and divinity.

And even now, today, he offers us that same love,
the same sacrifice of himself for others
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist we celebrate.

As we come to his altar, as we receive him in Communion,
let us receive him as we would take a little child into our arms
and in receiving Jesus, may we remember
that we receive the One who sent him.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!