Sunday, June 01, 2008

9th Sunday - homily

I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie, “Bella”, which came out last year. It is an excellent movie which won many awards and has a great pro-life message. The lead male actor is Eduardo Verastegui who is from Mexico. Eduardo’s life goal has always been to be a movie star. He wanted fame, money, and success from a very early age. He reached that by his early twenties and is known as the “Brad Pitt of Mexico” (for whatever that’s worth!).

But, when he reached this point, Eduardo looked at how he got there, and didn’t like what he saw. He realized that the roles he had played and the movies he had worked on were not good. They were at odds with his Catholic faith, offended God, and, as he has said recently, they were “poisoning society”. Through all of this, he had a tremendous reversion to his faith and walked away from many star Hollywood roles. His great quote is, “I was not born to be a movie star… I was born to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ”. He has reminded us of one of Mother Teresa’s sayings, “we are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful to God.”

If we relate Eduardo’s story to today’s Gospel parable, we would say that he realized that his life was built on sand. He had built his life on money, fame, and success. He wanted to glorify himself and not God with his gifts. His foundation was pride. Eduardo is an excellent example of someone who has rebuilt his life on rock which is Christ.

But, there are many examples in our world which are not so good; people about whom we read in the news who have built their lives on sand and have been ruined. For example, we read about people who have built their careers on corporate greed – their careers have collapsed and their lives are ruined. We also read about politicians, celebrities, and internet pornographers who have built their lives on lust – their lives have collapsed and are ruined. Jesus guarantees that if we build our lives on sand - if we build our lives on vices – then they will collapse.

We can interpret this Gospel parable individually but also collectively. We can look at our families and ask if our families are built on rock or on sand. Is it a family which is built on Christ and the virtues or is it built on vices? Is it a home of patience or is it a home of anger? Is it a home of humility or does pride dwell there? Is it a family based in temperance and moderation or is it a family based in gluttony? Is it a home of justice…prudence…fortitude…faith…hope…love? If our families are built on Christian virtues, then they will weather any storm. There are many storms which hit our families – inside and outside the family unit; if our homes have a foundation in Christ, the rock, then they will survive any storm.

When we come to the Eucharist, we acknowledge that the Eucharist is the rock upon which our lives our built. The Eucharist is Christ and Christ is the rock. Families and individuals who have the Eucharist as the center of their lives will weather any of life’s storms. When the rains and the winds come, the families that pray together – families that come to Mass together – will stay together. They will survive any storms because they have built their lives on rock, and the rock is Christ.


At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, to take the “collective” approach or the definition of “family” one step further, we, the parishioners, are obliged to look at our own family, our parish. Do we parishioners carry our humility, patience, temperance, justice, prudence, fortitude, faith, hope and love, hopefully practiced in the privacy of our own home, to more public settings? Or, do we judge the new, parishioner or priest?

I ask this because of something I experienced, from the periphery, some 20 years ago. My husband and I had just moved to a small southern town, small meaning two main roads, and joined the local Catholic Church. We were welcomed, as almost every church does to new members. Yet, we were on the periphery, which, when in a new environment, is where I feel most comfortable; watch, listen and think.

A new, young priest was assigned to the church shortly after we joined. I am convinced the “grapevine” is one of the most prolific vines in the world. It seems to grow with great tenacity, in every climate.

The newly assigned priest was what the grapevine referred to as “conservative”, if there is such a priest. He expected a level of respect when in church; i.e., a dress code for the altar servers and parishioners, respectful arrival and departure time to mass (within reason), etc. It seemed like common sense to me, but I heard “grumblings” growing on the grapevine- a type of grape, caustic and contagious, if exposed to. The priest was re-assigned before he had spent a full year at the church.

Although I am not sure of the circumstances, nor did I want to know, that led to his re-assignment, part of me believes the “grapevine” found its’ tenacity useful in getting what it was “comfortable” with.

As I listened to the priest’s farewell sermon, I couldn’t help but wonder if he wasn’t addressing his own congregation, in a round-a-bout way. It has been many years, and bits and pieces of his homily have faded from my memory, but I vividly remember a few words, “Take care of your priests. There are not that many of us.”

As FG said in a recent homily, “Family Always Means I Love You.”. To this day, I am not convinced this priest left feeling loved, supported and accepted by his parish family. I can only imagine how heart breaking this must have been.

Priests are our family. They are priests, but they are human. WE need to love, support, and communicate our point of view, appropriately, diplomatically and lovingly.


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