Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!
3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle C
Neh 8: 2-4a. 5-6, 8-10; 1Cor 12: 12-30; Lk 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21
January 23/24, 2016
Can you imagine what it would be like if we all knew God existed, but we had no way of knowing what to do with him, how to live with him, how to connect with him, or what he wanted of us? This was in many ways what had happened to the Israelites in our first reading today. It is, in many ways, the way it is for those in today’s world who have turned their hearts from the Church and God’s Law.
We have to understand the context of what had happened to the Israelites. They had had a lot of really difficult things happen to them, including having lost all copies of the law of Moses (or so they thought). None of them had ever seen or heard it for over a generation. They knew it had existed, because their ancestors had told them. They knew God existed because they had passed down by word of mouth all that God had done for the Hebrew people, how he had freed them from slavery, parted the water in the Red Sea, how God had fed their forefathers with manna and quail, how God had provided water from a rock, and how God had revealed himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They knew God existed because of all that, but they didn’t know anymore how to be in a good relationship with God because the law of Moses was lost to them. They didn’t know how to live with God and each other in the way God wanted them to live. But, one day a priest, Ezra, found a copy of the law of Moses behind a wall in the temple building that was being remodeled. This was the scroll that we hear of today in the reading. The people, all of them from the greatest to the least, were called together to hear aloud this law so they would know once more how God wanted them to live with him and with each other. And the people, we are told, rejoiced.
Then in our Gospel today, we hear how Jesus breaks open the Scriptures and reveals to the people what they had not understood about God’s law, about how they were to live with God and each other. Jesus declared that the law was fulfilled in him. He was the way we were to live with God and each other. Jesus was the guidebook, you might say, the new law revealed to us that shows us how to live.
Finally, in our second reading, we hear that beautiful reading from St. Paul describing the Body of Christ, the Church. We hear that the Church is the mystical presence of Jesus living and true through which we learn how to live and love God and each other, and how inseparable Jesus is from his Church, and how important all of us are in God’s plan.
My friends, we are not just individuals in search of meaning. We are a people on a pilgrimage as a community, as a Church, toward the Truth who is God, and our destination is heaven. We are Jesus’ mystical Body, the Church, and the Church shows us the way to live with God and each other. This is so important for us to remember as Catholics: We are the Church, and the community of the Church, the Body of Christ, shows us the way to heaven because Jesus teaches us in the Church.
Some people say that the Church has too many laws. Actually, she has very few hard and fast ones. She does have a lot of two things though: Mercy and Freedom! The Church is all about the Truth that sets us free from sin and death, and keeps us close to God who is a God of mercy. We see this throughout the Scriptures, how God frees his people from slavery to sin and Satan, from bondage and tyranny of all sorts. The Church is on the front lines in the battle for social justice and human dignity because Jesus lives in his Church, and Jesus is the Way,the Truth and the Life.
Jesus promised us he would be present in his Church until the end of time. He promised also that he would send the Holy Spirit into the Church, into our hearts, and he would write his law in our hearts. He promised that we would never be in the same situation that the Israelites were in in our first reading. He promised that everyone, from the greatest to the least, would be a member of this Church, his Body, that everyone was important, that no one was to be left out, that all could be included, if they would only be willing to listen to his law living in his Church and follow that law of love and freedom in their hearts as a member of his Body. He also promised that he would send out his followers to bring back all who wander away. Jesus showed us that in the Old Law God seemed distant, but in the New Law God is near, very near, within us, even in those who seem insignificant.
That is why the Church is so pro-life, because God loves the addict, the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, and so must we. We must not ignore them. Jesus lives in the person next to you today. He lives in me, and you, and you. He lives in the person in the pew ahead and behind you. He lives in the unborn, in the elderly, the terminally ill, the immigrant, the disabled, the mentally ill, the addicted. Jesus lives in his Church, in the People of God, in each one of us, and that is why we are pro-life and we preach the dignity of every human person, without exception! We must walk with God and each other; we must value all human life! Last Friday, I and many of you traveled to St. Paul for the March for Life to express our belief in the sanctity of all human life, and I thank all of you who came, especially those who organized it and funded it!
Let us this day renew our dedication to respecting each other as brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of the Father. Let us renew our love and commitment to Jesus Christ present in his Church. Let us never forget that God lives in each of us, and in serving each other, we praise Him!