Tag Archives: Sunday Mass

14TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR, 2017

A man by the undistinguished name of Robert Kent, who had worked for the same company for 33 years, was given several years ago a grand dinner party upon his retirement. At that celebration, several of his co-workers noted that what they loved and admired most about him was his optimism. In an article in a Connecticut newspaper he wrote, “If indeed I am optimistic, I got to wondering where that sense of optimism came from.”

After noting that the firm had gone through some very difficult times, he went on to say, “I finally concluded that whatever sense of optimism I have comes from my Christian faith. Christianity, at least as I understand it, is rooted in optimism. We are optimistic that God is with us and loves us; we are optimistic about life after death; and we are optimistic that God will be with us in good times and in bad. It seems to me that having a life based in faith leads to an optimistic attitude. Without faith, I don’t know how anyone can be optimistic. One of the reasons I like to go to church is that I meet the most wonderful people there. By and large, they are optimistic and caring people, filled with love and concern for their fellow humans. Each Sunday our faith and optimism are renewed through our liturgy…”

It was the enthusiastic exhortation of this Sunday’s first reading, those few lines from the Hebrew prophet Zechariah, that inspired this homiletic approach and the following commentary.

We celebrate Mass every Sunday not to make installments on a spiritual insurance policy, not to beg God to forgive our sins and wrong-doing, and not because we are required by Church law to do so.

No, Sunday Mass is is simply our time-honored way of thanking God for what we are and what we have, of being renewed & strengthened for the next lap of our earthly journey, and, as St. Augustine so well put it, of receiving more of what we already are.

But what are we? We are the body of Christ in the world of our time & place. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so do I send you.”

When we receive Holy Communion, it is not to be understood as reward for good behavior; it is not essentially an act of adoration we are performing. We are receiving into our hearts, minds, and entire lives more of what we already are – nothing less than the body of Christ! We receive his person, his Spirit.

The question arises then: What does my being the presence of Christ demand of me, do for me? It demands of us that we act in all circumstances as he would have us act. It requires us to be open to the direction and empowerment of the same Spirit that directed and empowered Jesus.

Think about that, please. Let it obsess you. Can you imagine how peaceful, how loving, how beautiful our homes and our lives would be if we were increasingly acting according to his example?

Let’s pray that a wave of change pass through our community, transforming every heart and every home precisely as needed!

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HOMILY FOR 20TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR, 2015

Is it possible that we are making too much of the Eucharist?  I must admit that the thought crosses my mind quite often these days.  Am I losing my faith, I ask myself, or is it that I am coming to understand better the message and the meaning of Jesus? I pray, I hope, I read, I consult – and return to prayer once more.  And then the certainty, the absence of doubt, the clarity of mind and firmness of belief with which I want to compose the homily at hand —–once again elude me, and I am left to bare my soul once more as the struggle to believe continues.

I don’t mean that I doubt the real and sacramental presence of Jesus in the sacrament.  I hold to that firmly, as I always have, even though my concept of that presence has evolved over the long years of my faith life.  I believe that Jesus, before his excruciating death, did direct that a meal of remembrance of him be celebrated for all time by those who believed in him as the revealer of God in our midst.  I do believe that when we engage in that sacred and social event he is with us in an unparalleled oneness of spirit in which we pledge, publicly and solemnly, to represent him as fully as we possibly can in every circumstance of our ordinary lives – his love, his forgiveness, his compassion, his hope, his peace, his integrity, his joy.

That’s what Sunday Mass is: A gathering in which we express our thanks —

  •  for having come to know and to follow Jesus as the ultimate standard of our lives;
  •  for having been blessed with the friendship and companionship of our families and friends and our fellow congregants, however we have come into association with each other;
  •  for life and love and all the priceless blessings with which both are filled;
  •  and for having heard and accepted Jesus’ conviction that life and love do not end at the grave, but instead are transformed into an entirely new way of living in God and sharing in God’s immortality.

Then why my concern about our possibly making too much of the Eucharist?  I think the reason is that we have been taught to objectify the sacrament: to regard it as a thing, no matter how sacred a thing.  We have been taught to adore the sacrament as the Real Presence of Jesus.  But, as far as I know, Jesus never asked for adoration; he invited us simply to follow him, to put into practice what he was teaching us by word and example, to learn to sense the presence of God in everyone and everything in our lives, and thus to live in union with the Creative Spirit in all the circumstances of our earthly existence.

We come then, not only to receive, but to DO Eucharist, a fluid ritual of personal commitment and common profession of faith.

The presiding priest wears this long white garment, the alb, which you see underneath this green chasuble I have on.  It represents the baptism of each and all of us.  In a way, as St. Paul expressed it, we “put on” the Risen Jesus when we were clothed with this robe at the reception of our first sacrament.  We are here at Mass to do what Christians have done for two millennia: no matter our state in life, our occupation, our financial situation, or our social standing, we eat and drink of him mostly by absorbing his words and trying to incorporate his values into our lives.  We receive him from each other in the course of our ordinary daily encounters.  We experience him in our midst when we gather to pray together.  He comes to us in sacramental reality in the sacred ritual of Eucharist.  Our Creator is not distant or remote.  God is with us in an endless variety of ways, but in none more intimately or intensely than in the person of Jesus, the nourishing, healing, life-giving bread of our lives.