Homily for March 17

Image source

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

The problem with mountain-top experiences,
like the one in the scripture we just heard,
is that most of us don’t live on top of a mountain!

So if we make it to the mountain’s top,
once we get there,
we inevitably have to come down, and once we descend,
we tend to lose the exhilaration
of what we experienced up above.

Of course, the point of going to the top of the mountain
is  to meet, to encounter,  to experience something
we don’t ordinarily find in the day-to-day.

That’s what happened for Peter, John and James.
They met, encountered and experienced Jesus
as they never had before.
Jesus transfigured in brilliant light right before their very eyes!
The unexpected appearance of Moses and Elijah
and the sound of God’s voice!
These all connect, unite and identify Jesus
with everything Peter, John and James know of God and faith.

It’s clear now, without a doubt, that this Jesus from Nazareth
whom they’ve been hanging out with,
this carpenter’s son is one with the eternal God,
and one with the belief and history of God’s chosen people, Israel,
evidenced in the appearance of Moses and Elijah
(the law and the prophets).

That was the experience Peter wanted to capture, to contain,
by building three tents to harness this mountain top experience.

But what does all this mean for us? 
We’re not on top of the mountain.
We’re down here in the deep, dark purple canyon of Lent.

Well, Lent is a time for climbing the Lord’s mountain.
And you don’t have to budge from your recliner or sofa to do that.
The Lenten journey up the mountain is an interior journey
and our purpose in making this trek is the same as it was
for Peter, John and James.
We need to find out again, who Jesus is in our lives.
We need to find ways to leave the day-to-day behind for a bit
and refresh our experience - or even find out for the first time -
who Jesus is in our lives.

A few days ago online, I came across some words
from one of today’s finest theologians, Stanley Hauerwas.
Here’s what he wrote:
“That which makes the church "radical" and forever "new" is not
that the church tends to lean toward the left on most social issues,
but rather -- that the church knows Jesus 
-- whereas the world does not.
In the church's view, the political left
is not noticeably more interesting than the political right
because both sides tend towards solutions
that act as if the world did not begin and will not end
- in Jesus. “
(in Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony)

The world beginning and ending in Jesus,
in Jesus, the eternal Word of God,
 “through whom all things were made.”

Now there’s a question for you and me to grapple with this Lent:
“Where, in whom, does your world and mine begin and end.”

For the Christian,
there’s only one correct answer to that question:
if the whole world began in Christ,
(the Word of God through whom all things were made)
- and if the whole world will end in Christ,
 (who will come to judge the living and the dead)
then your life and mine began in and will end in - Jesus.

But we often set much more narrow limits
on the origin and culmination of the world and our lives.
For instance:
• life doesn’t begin or end according to the length of the term
of which administration may be in office at any given moment.
• life doesn’t begin or end with finding a job or retiring.
• life doesn’t begin or end in any relationship I might have -
except for my relationship with God.
• life doesn’t begin or end with graduation,
or becoming engaged,
or getting married or getting divorced,
or winning the World Series or a Super Bowl,
or buying a new home or car.
• life doesn’t begin or end with my being right or wrong -
even about something very important.
• life doesn’t begin or end
with things going the way I want them to -
or things going in exactly the opposite direction.
• life doesn’t begin or end with the bottom lines
of my savings and checking accounts.

In fact, for the Christian,
life does not begin with our conception or birth,
nor will it end with our death.
Since before all time we have been in the mind and heart of God
and long after we die, we will live forever,
hopefully, at peace with the Lord.

When you die, when I die,
each of us will stand before the Lord naked, our hands empty,
our hearts exposed and our souls bared.
It will be just Jesus and you.
It will be just Jesus and me.
It will be the greatest and highest of all mountain-top experiences.

And, you and I hope and pray that when that time comes
we will know Jesus and know him to be the one
in whom the world began and in whom the world will end;
to know him to be the one in whom each of our lives began,
and the one in whom each of our lives will end.

Lent is a time for climbing the mountain to find Jesus,
and for leaving behind the notion that Jesus is someone
“added to,” “pinned on,” or merely “associated with” my life -
but that, indeed, the whole of my life
since before its beginning and eternally forever after my death,
is a life to be lived in Christ.

Does that exclude my loved ones, my friends, my work,
my sorrows, my joys, my worries?
Of course not!

In fact, the message of this gospel reminds us that each of us
has a place - no not a place but a person - a person to whom we go
with all that life brings us
and the person is Jesus, our beginning and our end:

- Jesus, through whom all things were made, and in whom
all things in our lives will find their completion and fulfillment:

- Jesus, who climbed a mountain, the hill of Calvary
and who, on the Cross, revealed
the depths of his love for each of us;

- Jesus, who on the night before he died,
left at our table, this altar, the gift of his Body and Blood,
to strengthen us, to nourish us, to feed us with himself,
transfigured in the Eucharist as our Savior and Brother,
our Friend and Redeemer, the Word of God,
through whom all things were made.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!