Sunday, November 04, 2007

31st Sunday - homily

I am preparing a couple for marriage who are friends of a friend. I recently did with them what I do for all couples in marriage prep: interview them separately by going through a questionnaire. When I got to the questions about practicing our Catholic faith with the man, he candidly revealed to me that he really struggles with the whole question of who Jesus Christ is. He said something that we normally hear from people of non-Christian religions: Jesus was a great teacher and prophet, but I don’t think that he is the Son of God.

I began to talk about the resurrection because that is the main event when it comes to knowing that Jesus is the Son of God. I used the famous quote from CS Lewis: “If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, he is a liar and a blasphemer”. When I said that, the man was clearly affected, and said, “Gee, I never thought about it like that”. The point being that Jesus said he would rise, and if I didn’t he is a liar. Also, he called God, ‘Father’; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then he is just a man and not God’s Son. This man seems to be right where he needs to be: seeking to see who Jesus is.

Zacchaeus is in the exact same point in today’s Gospel. Scripture says that this rich tax collector was “seeking to see who Jesus was”. Whatever is going on in Zacchaeus’ life, whatever led him to climb a tree to see Jesus, he is truly intrigued by the person of Christ. Hopefully, we are all that point or at least have had Zacchaeus moments where we are seeking to see who Jesus is. The question of who Jesus is one of the most important, if not the most important, questions in our lives.

The study of the person of Jesus Christ is called Christology. It is one of the most fascinating subjects. It is ultimately dealing with a mystery: Christ is one divine person with two natures. Christ is fully human and fully divine. This “hypostatic union” is a mystery – two distinct natures in one divine person. And yet, we can approach the person of Christ and gain some real insights about God an ourselves. For example, Christ reveals the Father and He reveals man.

Anyone who sees Christ sees the Father. He or she sees the Father’s love, sees the Father’s mercy in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. The Son reveals to us who the Father is and offers us everything the Father has given Him. Anyone who knows Christ knows the Father. Also, anyone who sees Christ sees themselves. In other words, when we get to know Christ, we get to know ourselves. It is in Christ that we are most ourselves. Whenever we are Christ-like – when we are kind or generous or forgiving or loving – that’s when we see who we are and what we truly desire to be. We have all been created through Christ; he gave us our hearts. Our hearts truly desire him. It’s what St Augustine once said, “our hearts are truly restless until they rest in Him”. That’s exactly what’s going on with Zacchaeus, with the young groom-to-be, and with each one of us.

My hope is to go deeper into the person of Christ with a series of reflections in Advent during Friday night Adoration. I would like to offer a few reflections on who Jesus is; we’ll advertise it the same way that we’ve advertised the concert this Friday night during Adoration: as a flyer in the bulletin.

Finally, Zacchaeus seeks Christ but Christ seeks Zacchaeus, too and enters his house. We will have the same opportunity to welcome Salvation into our houses in a few minutes with the Eucharist. Jesus will enter our hearts and bodies and souls in the Eucharist. Let us welcome Him, let us welcome Salvation as Zacchaeus did: let us welcome Him with joy.


At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've noted many times here that many people do not believe that Jesus was God, some of whom have never given it any thought. What does the Church believe about some people's failure to consider Christ or believe in Him? Does God reveal Himself to some and not others, or is it due to some failure on the part of a person who does not believe?

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The question of who Jesus is one of the most important, if not the most important, questions in our lives."

Obviously it's an important question, but I think one that is equally important is where and how is He is our lives. It's a question that separates many of faith, and also is a question I've had posed to me by those who do not believe Him to be the Son of God.

I know how I would like to realize Him in my life, and I do accept very specific ways in which He is present, but the question (where and how is He) in a broader scope, challenges me often. It's hard, sometimes, to see Him in the coarse of my daily grind, not to mention the hard times.

I believe Him to be present in the Eucharist- no question. So, I do know where to go to "find" Him. I do have a harder time seeing Him elsewhere- here and now, where I am, and I'm not sure if that makes sense.

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 12:42 -- I appreciate your comments so much because they admit to not knowing. So many people I talk to about faith and many things I read claim to "know" so much. I know so little, and I often feel that I am alone in that. I have far far far more questions than I do answers. I look for Christ in my life. All that I can say is that I often find where He isn't. I have not even come around to a belief that He is present in the Eucharist. I know I have comrades out there somewhere, but they're generally not very vocal. Thanks.

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anon of 2:47-

I understand many questions, and one of the reasons I like this forum is b/c many have been willing to answer mine- or at least comment. That, and comments such as yours, in and of themselves, mean that I am far from alone in my perpsective on things of faith.

I have come around to believe that He is present in the Eucharist because several people with whom I have spent some time have said it, over and over. That brought me to one basic realization- Jesus isn't a liar. Words in the bible are truth. For me, refusing to accept certain basic truths (simply b/c, in my limited frame of reference, it may not seem to make complete sense) would mean that I must know more.

One of the things my many questions have served- especially the ones I actually ask- is to show me that I don't know more. Maybe that is ultimately the purpose of the naggiung questions some of us seem to have- to show us that we don't know and point us in the direction of the answers.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger fran said...

My daily travels up and down Georgia Ave. take me past a number of churches which display uplifting or thought provoking messages. One of those messages currently reads, "Faith is not a destination, it is a journey."

I don't necessarily think any of us "knows" any more than another, when it comes to faith. I prefer to think of it more in terms of where each of us is in that faith journey. In other words, we are all at different points yet on the same path. That being said, those that may be further along can support, advise, and counsel those who are still finding challenges along the way, that keep them from seeing or accepting certain aspects of the Catholic faith as they wish to.

I like what anon 5:41 had to say about how he/she "came around" to believing in the real presence in the Eucharist, simply because people with whom he/she had spent time kept saying it over and over.
I think a lot of messages regarding faith are repeated here. I also think that such repitition is important. It is often just what it is needed, for some, to come to an understanding of something which once stood in their way of fully embracing what it was they were seeking.

I, too, enjoy this site. I think it is the perfect example of Christ working through others, in many different ways.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger fran said...

Inspirational words from "Walk By Faith," Jeremy Camp.

"Will I believe you when you would say
Your hand will guide my every way
Will I receive the words You say
Every moment of every day

Well, I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see
Well because this broken road
Prepares Your will for me

Help me to rid my endless fears
You've been so faithful for all my years
With the one breath You make me new
Your grace covers all I do

Well, I'm broken - but I still see Your face
You've spoken - pouring Your words of grace..."

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That being said, those that may be further along can support, advise, and counsel those who are still finding challenges along the way, that keep them from seeing or accepting certain aspects of the Catholic faith as they wish to."

I think the "as they wish to" is key. We often find what we are looking for, but we aren't always clear as to what that is. If we seek to validate the reasons that we struggle to believe this or that- we'll probably find them. I think that's what's been happening with me recently. I haven't understood why specific things have happened, and rather than accepting what I think I know to be true in the "why's" and "how's" of those things, I've looked to validate another perspective. It was rather easier to find people/things to support that validation.


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