Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lent, 3rd Sunday - homily

Friday night was amazing here in the Church! We had Adoration for an hour, as we do every Friday. There were about 100 people here, among them some very special guests. A large group of our third graders came with their parents, and were here for about ¾ of the hour. I told the parents that how grateful I was that they brought them there. It was a very meaningful night for me because it brought together the two loves of my life: the Eucharist and youth.

I explained to the kids what Adoration is…that we bring Jesus out of the tabernacle and onto the altar, placing the Eucharist in a vessel called a monstrance. We can then see Jesus, and adore him in the Eucharist. It’s an invitation to be with and talk with him. At the end of the hour, I processed the monstrance through the Church, having explained to them that it’s really Jesus walking among them. As the Eucharist came by them, they were very prayerful and reverent, making the sign of the Cross as he passed by. Several of them came up to me afterwards, and said how much they enjoyed it. One girl struggled for words, and said she was “inspired”. One of the parents has told me since that these kids “get it” about the Eucharist. Amazing!

I tell this story, not just because it is a great story about our kids, but because it is directly related to our readings today. Moses had a similar experience to the third graders. He has an encounter with God in the burning bush. He finds himself in the presence of God! He hears God speaking to him from the bush, and they engage in a conversation. He buries his head out of fear of the Lord…respect for God. God calls him to be his spokesman to his people, telling them that he will save them from their suffering.

Moses will go on to tell God that he is not the right person for the job. He says that he is too young and not an eloquent speaker. God assures him that he is the man for the job, and that he will help him. This encounter with God changes Moses’ life forever! He has an experience of the realness of God. He is in the presence of the Almighty in a real way. He can hear him, and talk to him as he would his best friend. This experience leads him to give his life to God. The hope from Friday night is that the lives of our third graders are changed forever, and that they will give their lives to Jesus.

Christ calls us to repent - to change our lives - in today’s Gospel. He calls us to give our lives to him so that we will not perish. He uses the image of a tree to symbolize the life of each of us. He says that our trees - our lives - need to be bearing fruit. He doesn’t just tell us to change, and then leaves us on our own to do it. He says that he will cultivate and fertilize the soil of our trees. He cultivates our soul through prayer and fertilizes it with his grace.

For the third graders (and all of us who come to Adoration) and for Moses, the encounter with God in prayer is a life-changing experience. When we put ourselves in God’s presence, he changes us. He changes our minds and hearts if we are open to Him. We begin to see things as he sees them, and get a bigger perspective on our lives. Ultimately, we hear God speaking to us, not in a voice like Moses did, but in our hearts. He gives each one of us a calling. He reveals himself to us. We have a real experience of his presence, his love, and his life. This changes us.

He fertilizes our soul with his grace, primarily in the sacraments. The two main sacraments of conversion after Baptism are the Eucharist and Confession. We certainly experience a change in the Eucharist, but also with Confession. I have heard of two stories of conversion recently involving people who heard really bad news about their health. One of the first things they did after receiving the news was to go to Confession. They had heard this Gospel in their hearts. They realized they had branches that weren’t bearing fruit, so they brought them to the Lord in Confession because they don’t eant to perish as the greatest sinners do. That’s what happens in that sacrament – we bring all the stuff that’s not bearing fruit, and give them to the Lord to throw them into the fire. We just want to have the good branches on our trees, and have them grow. Christ calls us to change. He calls us to conversion. Christ calls us to Confession.

Finally, I would recommend that each of us reads chapter 15 from John’s Gospel. It talks about a different kind of tree – a vine, actually. Christ says that he is the vine and we are the branches, and that apart from him, we can’t bear fruit. He says that if we remain in him and him in us, we will bear much fruit and live forever. This is the same language he uses in speaking about the Eucharist in John, chapter 6. In a few minutes, we will eat his flesh and drink his blood – he will remain in us and us in him. When Christ remains in us and us in him, we will bear much fruit, and live forever.


At 3:23 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

Went to an amazing talk and healing Mass at my parish!!!!

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

"Christ calls us to change. He calls us to conversion. Christ calls us to Confession."

I spoke to someone who is a Protestant about what it meant to be Catholic and she replied " I had no idea how commited one had to be."

Have a great day everybody! I definately will!

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

Um, is there something like doing "too much" in the spiritual journey? I sat down to look at what I am doing and I think if I take on some more things I will be doing a bit too much. Is it okay to say not right now. Is that a sign of weakness?

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

I may be off base, but growth takes time... you can't rush it but at the same time you can't go too slowly either there has to be a balance of some sort... I know it helps for me to have Fr. Greg to talk to because when I start slowing down too much he sort of gives me a spiritual "shove" or talking to get me to stop stagnating, especially in the relm of prayer.

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

Um, is there something like doing "too much" in the spiritual journey?

Sure. It's the same with any journey. If you're driving to California, will you get there faster driving 80 mph than 55 mph? Not in my car. I might get to Tennessee faster, but then I'd cool my heels for a week while they replace the engine.

You can't love God too much, but you can do too much in too little time in getting there.

Is that a sign of weakness?

Did you ever see that "Calvin and Hobbes" strip where Calvin asks his dad how they decide on the weight limit for a bridge? His dad tells him they drive heavier and heavier trucks over it, and when it breaks, they rebuild the bridge and say the limit is the weight of the last truck to make it across. (In the last panel, the mom says something like, "Dear, if you don't know the answer, just say so.")

Is "Weight Limit 5 Ton" a sign of weakness in a bridge? Maybe, but better to put it up than to try driving a 10 ton truck across it.

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mommy test
> I was out walking with my 4 year old daughter. She
> picked up something
> off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I
> took the item away
> from her and I asked her not to do that.
> "Why?" my daughter asked.
> "Because it's been on the ground, you don't know where
> it's been, it's
> dirty and probably has germs" I replied.
> At this point, my daughter looked at me with total
> admiration and
> asked, "Mommy, how do you know all this stuff? You
> are so smart."
> I was thinking quickly. "All moms know this stuff.
> It's on the Mommy
> Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a
> Mommy."
> We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she
> was evidently
> pondering this new information.
> "OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the
> test you have to
> be the
> daddy."
> "Exactly" I replied back with a big smile on my face.


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