Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless you all!
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Wis 18: 6-9; Heb 11: 1-2, 8-19; Lk 12: 32-48
August 6/7, 2022
You know, I am feeling a little like Lazarus in recent days. You know about Lazarus, the friend of Jesus who died and Jesus didn’t make the funeral. He came four days late, and he wept. Then he called out rather forcefully, “Lazarus! Come out!” He raised him from the dead. Lazarus was all bound up though. Burial clothes. I can imagine Lazarus hearing the voice of his friend, waking up and trying to “come forth” only to stumble around because he was bound. “Here I come. Can’t move though. Burial clothes binding me.” “Lazarus, come out!” Jesus repeated. “I’m trying! But I am bound up. Pretty scary in this tomb and not being able to get out.” “Lazarus, come out!” Jesus says a third time. Now Lazarus is scared. Can’t move. Can’t respond. Then he hears Jesus say the words he needs. “Get rid of that stone that blocks his way. Unbind him and set him free!”
We too get all anxious and scared when we cannot move freely. We get scared when we hear God calling us and we can’t seem to get off first base.
That is why today’s Gospel is so important, I think. Jesus says to us today: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.”
Similar words were proclaimed that day in October, 1978 by now St. John Paul II in his homily for his Installation Mass. I know. I was there. I heard it with my own ears. He said, in Italian, “Non avete paura! Spalancate le porte a Cristo!” which in English means, “Do not fear! Open wide the doors to Christ!” He implied what Jesus said, i.e., “Come out of the tomb. Get rid of the stone door. Unbind him. Set him free!”
These are words our world desperately needs to hear, a world so bound up by fear. God is telling us not to fear any longer what we have feared for so long, because He is giving us his Kingdom, no less!
What role does fear play in your life? Some say it is fear that binds us and keeps us from the Kingdom. For example: Some say that fear activates all the vices and sins in life. We fear getting caught, therefore we lie. We fear not having something, so we steal it. We fear loneliness, so we commit adultery. We fear the future, so we become stingy and lacking in charity. We fear what people have done to us and others in the past, so we lose hope in humankind. And on and on…
One thing is for sure: Fear binds us, and Jesus frees us!
Jesus tells us in the Gospel that we have no need to fear, that he will provide all we need if we trust him. In fact, he will wait on us in our need! He is reminding us that whereas fear gives rise to sin —as we hear in the last verses of today’s Gospel— faith gives rise to all virtues —as we hear in the first verses.
For example: We speak the truth because we believe truth is from God. We love because we have faith in love’s power to redeem. We are generous with others because we have faith in God’s providence, in his care for us. We are patient with others because we believe all things work together in God’s will. We have hope because we trust God’s promises.
It is faith which unbinds us and overcomes our fear. It is only when we banish fear from our lives can we with hopeful, faithful expectation be prepared to immediately open the doors of our lives and come forth when He calls us. When we are rid of the fear that binds us we will be able to avoid the sins that fear generates in our lives, sins against God’s will that are described in today’s Gospel.
So I ask you, do you believe? Do you have faith, or are you bound up with fear? Do you truly believe that God loves you so much that He has given you his Kingdom, and nothing less?
What is God’s Kingdom? God’s Kingdom is a kingdom of peace. It is a kingdom of justice. It is a kingdom where there is Jew and Greek, slave and free. It is a kingdom where all are one and share in the same Holy Spirit. It is a kingdom of joy, a kingdom of love, a kingdom of hope. It is an everlasting kingdom.
Where is God’s kingdom? Gods’ kingdom is here and now. It is present on earth and in heaven. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It is present everywhere where God’s will is done. It is present deep within you if you are in a state of grace. It is present in sacramental marriages, in your families, in this parish, in our diocese, indeed in our Church.
Who is God’s Kingdom? God’s Kingdom is Jesus. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Kingdom, the full revelation of the Father on earth. He is the full expression of God’s will, the full expression of God’s love for each and every one of us. When we listen to and see Jesus, we listen to and see everything that God the Father wishes to reveal to us this side of heaven. Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus is the way to heaven where we will see God face to face in all his glory and splendor, in an unveiled manner, in a brilliant and unimaginable way. The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is the Kingdom of God now present to us, given us by God the Father for our salvation.
Do you believe this?
Only with faith will we be free to, as the Gospel tells us we must do, place our real treasure in heaven and not in things of this world. Only if we come to believe that the Kingdom of God is among us and is immensely richer than anything we now have, will we be prepared to do his will and act with mercy toward others, especially those who are most difficult to love. Only if we believe that it is in Jesus Christ and in his Church that we find grace, mercy and salvation, will we dispel all our fears. Only if we come to know that Jesus is the Christ and the Church is his faithful true witness will we find peace.
“Fear not little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.”
Yes, with faith we cast out all our fears and we grow in virtue. Without faith, without virtue, without Jesus, without the Church we succumb to sin.
Do not fear. Live in the presence of God all the days of your lives, and in peace confidently look to the future when we hope to be in the presence of God and all his angels and saints in heaven.