Monday, June 17, 2013

Homily For 11th Sunday In Ordinary Time - 2013

2 Samuel 12: 7-10, 13
Galatians 2: 16, 19-21
Luke 7: 36-8:3

We are now in liturgical season called Ordinary Time, and I think we can see a different tone in today’s Scripture readings.  During the Easter Season, and on Pentecost Sunday, we see that the readings where full of hope, love, and peace.  In today’s readings, we see that three letter word that makes all of us uncomfortable: …sin.  My feeling is that the Church, after all the celebrations of Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi; when we all may be on a spiritual high; is giving us a reality check.  Yes, we are Easter people; we do believe and follow our Risen Lord.  But we are still human; we can still be tempted by sin. 

I found several definitions of sin in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Sin ”is a failure in genuine love of God and neighbor causes by perverse attachment to certain goods.” (1849)  “Sin is an offense against God…sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it.” (1850)

And we are all capable of committing sin; whether we are regular folks or among the bright, rich, and powerful.  We see that illustrated in today’s readings.  The first reading tells the story of King David.  David, who was one of the key figures in the history of ancient Israel.  God selected him to take over the throne of Israel from King Saul; had Solomon anoint him as King.  The hand of God was over David, protecting him, making him a powerful leader.  And after all that God had for him one would think David would acknowledge that, and obey God’s commandment.  Instead he wanted more, he wanted Bathsheba.  And he was willing to kill for her.  God, through the prophet Nathan, brings David to account for himself, to acknowledge his sin. 

In the Gospel, we read of a Pharisee, by the name of Simon, who invited Jesus to dinner.  Now the Pharisees prided themselves on keeping the Law of Moses, even to the smallest passage of the Law.  Yet, we read that he failed to extend hospitality to Jesus, which was required by Jewish custom of the times.  And he looked at the sinful woman, who came in to wash and anoint Jesus’ feet, and did not feel compassion for her, but disgust.  Jesus, very cleverly calls Simon to account for his sins.  

Yet, today’s Scriptures are not primarily about sin; but it is revealing to us the great compassion of God.  He is always ready to forgive us, no matter how great or small is the offense we may have committed.  But we, like King David, and the sinful woman, need to humbly come before the Father, and acknowledge that we have faltered in following his Son, and that we need his forgiveness and his healing.  It is for this reason that Jesus Christ gave us the Sacrament of Penance, the sacrament of Reconciliation.  Through the words of absolution pronounced by the priest, we experience what that woman experienced, the forgiveness of the Father.  And also, like that woman, we will experience the peace of Christ.

Yet, how many of us are willing to come to the sacrament of reconciliation; how many of us are denying ourselves this experience of the Father’s love.  Perhaps we need, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to reflect on the current state of our lives, examine our relationship with the Father, our families, and neighbors.  And know that whatever we realize about ourselves, our failures and sins, Jesus is there with us, ready to forgive us, ready to say, “Go in peace.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Homily Delivered At My Mother's Funeral

My mother, Margaret "Marna" Jones passed away on June 8, 2013.  I assisted at her Funeral Mass, and preached the following homily:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’” 

This past week, I have been reading a book by Paul Elie, titled: “The Life You Save May be Your Own, An American Pilgrimage.”   In it he tells the life stories of four American Catholics; social activist, Dorothy Day, Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, and authors Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy.  He describes each of their lives as being on pilgrimage.  Now according to Wikipedia,  the term, “pilgrimage,” has been defined as a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.  Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs.  If we take a look into the Bible, do we see many stories of persons on pilgrimage, seeking  an understanding of this relationship they have with God.  Abraham leaves his home to go to a strange country, because he hears this divine voice telling him to do so.  Moses leads the people of Israel through the deserts and wastelands, on a very difficult pilgrimage, so they may discover what it means to be God’s special people.  And can we say that Jesus himself was leading his Apostles on pilgrimage; going throughout Galilee and Judea, they watched Him heal the sick; reconcile sinners, and perform wondrous miracles.  It was a pilgrimage that would end in Jerusalem, where the Apostles would witness the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I would put to you that at the moment of our baptism, when we rose from the baptismal waters to new life in Christ; each of us began our own pilgrimage of faith; following Jesus who is the way.  Mom began her own pilgrimage of faith in such a way; she strove to love God and love her neighbor.  She, a born Catholic, fell in love with Bill, a convert to the faith; and together they continued their pilgrimage of faith.  They raised a family which they loved; they took care of my siblings and me; loved us, tried to share with us the experience of faith they both had.  With the renewal of the Church that came from the Second Vatican Council; Mom and Dad saw their pilgrimage taking a deeper, a more spiritual turn.  Mom would discover deeper prayer, sharing these experiences with fellow pilgrims of this parish.    Sadly, a couple of years ago, she found herself traveling on this pilgrimage alone, because Dad had passed away.  And the journey was becoming more difficult, the road getting rough, darker, obstacles getting in the way.  Sometimes the pilgrimage took such a toll on her, that we know she sometimes gave into despair.  But she was never alone on this journey.  Jesus was with her always, walking beside her and holding her up. He is the truth and the life; that came to her through Scripture, and through the Eucharist, renewed her soul and gave her strength.  And through each of us, her children, through the grace the Holy Spirit shared with each one of us, he let Mom know, that she was loved. 

And now I must share with you this belief that I hold deep within core of my being; that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, death is not the end of the pilgrimage for her, as it will not be the end of any of our pilgrimages; only now it will be a journey of joy, peace and hope.  We pray that at the end of her pilgrimage, she will find that place Christ has prepared, where she will be surrounded by the ones she loved.  And we pray she will be in the hand of God; the she will be forever in His embrace.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’”  

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.