16th Sunday, Ordinary - Homily
Well, in about a week, it all starts. That’s right….training camp for the Washington Redskins! When Joe Gibbs came back as coach of the Redskins a few years ago, I imagined that he found a group of men who were lost. They didn’t have a leader. They were like sheep without a shepherd. I bet that one of the first things he did was to teach them. Teach them about football, about playing as a team, and about being like a family. The primary task, then, of a shepherd, is to teach…to lead others and show them the way.
It is a sad situation when we encounter a group of individuals who are lost…who don’t get it…who are ignorant. The prophet Jeremiah says that they live in “fear and trembling”. Jesus saw this when he saw the great crowds who were lost. They appeared “as sheep without a shepherd”. Christ was “moved with pity” when he saw this. What was the first thing he did? He began to teach them. He began to give them a clue.
He began to teach them about the way. He showed them the way…the way to go…the way to live. He is the Way. He began to teach them the truth….the truth about God, about life, and about us. He is the Truth. He began to teach them the life…the life of the Gospel…a life in love…what real love is. He is the Way.
So, my primary job, as one of your shepherds, is to teach. That is the first task of any priest. I will teach you about Christ. How do I know that what will I teach you will be the Truth? Well, Christ does say in John 14, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (v. 6). But, I look at the Resurrection. No one has ever risen from the dead except Jesus Christ. He is God. He is the Messiah. Everything he says is true. He is the way to heaven….the way to happiness, to peace, to joy, and to love.
Once we get it about Christ, we get it about life. He is God and we are not! Until we see that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we don’t know the way. We don’t know the truth. We don’t know the life. We are like sheep without a shepherd, and it is very sad.
The thing that will probably cause me the greatest sadness as a priest will be when people don’t get it about the Eucharist….when they don’t get it that it is really Him! That it is really His risen Body and Blood under the signs of bread and wine. That God loves us so much that He wants to be in us…in our bodies and in our souls. So, as we receive Jesus in the Eucharist in a few minutes, let each of us pray, “Lord, show me the way. Show me the truth. Show me the life. Show me the love of my heavenly Father.”