Homily for Super Bowl Sunday

Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

We just heard Jesus say,
“No prophet is accepted in the town where he lives.”
And why is that?
Because the home town folks know the prophet well,
even too well, or at least well enough
that they they’d be the last to believe
that he’s speaking  for God.

This is the flip side of the coin that says,
“The prophet is anyone who lives 10 mile outside of town.”
We’re often quicker to believe and accept
what the visitor tells us
than what we hear from someone we see every day.
In that spirit, let me call in a visitor as some back-up
to support what I want to say this morning about love.
I think most of you will recognize his voice:

“How are you able to focus despite the negative fan base-
AKA, the haters? 
I don’t know - what do we do about the haters?
We love ‘em!  We love ‘em back - because we don’t hate back!”
We love ‘em and we wish them the best in their life.”

In case you didn’t recognize the voice,
that was Tom Brady at a media event this week,
responding to a little boy who asked him,
“What do we do about the haters?”

I could stand here all day and tell you to love the haters
and it might not phase you -
but when TOM BRADY, the GOAT, says the same thing -
you sit up and listen!

And of course, St. Paul said the same thing Tom Brady said
- only St. Paul said it first
- and Paul was a more subtle than Tom.
Paul didn’t talk about “haters.”
Paul put the whole message in more positive terms.

Paul said, Love is patient, so no parents here, we trust,
would be impatient with their children…
no husbands or wives would be impatient with their spouse,
no children here would be impatient with their parents,
no pastor here, we hope, would be impatient with his people
- nor they with him.
No, we wouldn’t be impatient with these folks
- we’d love em…

And Paul wrote that Love is kind, not rude, not quick tempered
so we would hope and pray
that no pastor, parent, spouse, child or sibling,
no neighbor or friend would be unkind, brusque,
careless or short-fused
in dealing with any member of the family or the community
but rather - that we’d love ‘em…

And since Love is not jealous, not pompous
and so we would hope that among us
none would flaunt their wealth or status,
success or belongings
- and that none would be jealous
of others who might have more -
but instead, that we’d love ‘em…

And since Love doesn’t not brood over injury
we trust that none of us here
are nursing old wounds, grudges and resentments
against those who have hurt us
- but that, instead, we’d love em…

And because Love does not seek its own interests
but rejoices with the truth, we trust that in our families,
and where we work and go to school
-and where we worship-
that we rejoice not just in our own opinions and certainties
but rather rejoice in finding and telling the truth,
even when the truth we find is difficult to accept
and when telling the truth is the hardest thing to do -
that we seek and find the truth in others and from others
- because we love ‘em…

Our sins against the love of which St. Paul writes
are etched in the vulnerable hearts
of our family members, classmates, colleagues at work,
and our neighbors and fellow parishioner
when we fail to love them.

Consider the vulnerability of students
who are teased and rejected and bullied at school.
Consider that among us at Mass this morning
may be a student who’s the object of bullying
on the school-bus or in the classroom or cafeteria -
and that with us right here, at this same Mass,
may be that student's bully...
If the love I pray and sing and share here
doesn’t go home with me to school and to work,
then, as St. Paul wrote,
I am nothing, I have nothing, I gain nothing...

Bullying takes many forms, sometimes it’s very subtle
- and it’s not restricted to the school yard.
There's more than one way to run someone out of town,
to hurl someone off a cliff.

Gathered with us at the altar this morning
are folks who gossip about others
and sitting across the aisle may be the very persons
whose reputations are the stuff of that gossip.
Where is the love?

Some family members are here together this morning
who have carried with them the unkind words,
the cold silence,
or whatever hurt they may have visited upon each other
this past week, or while getting ready for church
or in the car on the ride to come here this morning.
How might the love we celebrate here
heal the hurt we bring with us?

In the gospel story today the folks in the synagogue
ran Jesus right out of town.

When we fail to love one another,
we run each other out of our homes, our work places,
our schools, our neighborhoods, our parish -
and most significantly - when we fail to love one another
we run each other out of our hearts.

It’s a good thing that at the beginning of every Mass
we stop to remember our sins
and to pray for God’s mercy
because you and I are called to live a love
that makes demands on us in every moment of every day,
in every relationship we have.

We are called to a love that bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

We are called to a love that never fails...

Such unfailing love is the love the Lord offers each of us
and it’s the love he calls us to have for one another
and it’s the love he’s about to share with us at this altar
in the gift of his Body and Blood.

On the Cross, Jesus must have asked his God,
“Father, what do we do about the haters?”
And the Father must have answered,
“Son, we love ‘em!  We love ‘em back
- because we don’t hate back!”

Sisters and brothers: 
let us love one another as the Lord has loved us,
for God is love.



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