Homily – Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord
Let’s examine the passage in today’s Gospel, – and your own heart a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many other hearts may be revealed” as well as the idea of “Revealing the sword in your heart.” Here we want to look at three items: Virtue, Sacrifice and Transformation.
Virtue: Comes from the Latin word, “virtutas” which means “a good habit.” When we do something good, again and again and again, it becomes automatic and others benefit from what we do. The “good habit” becomes not only a good practice but also a sign of love and charity towards others.
Sacrifice: The surrender of something of value for the sake of something – or someone – else. Although connected with rites and rituals, sacrifice is also tied in with the virtue of charity. Giving of yourself, or something from yourself, for the benefit of others.
Transformation: When we exercise the virtue of sacrifice and the virtue of charity, we are changed. When we do it again and again and again, we change to become a virtuous person.
- Virtuous people are people who are always transforming themselves – for the better.
- And virtuous people are people who are always transforming the world around them – for the better.
In 1965, the Fathers of the 2nd Vatican Council wrote about this idea of personal transformation leading to the transformation of others and society around us. In the document, “The Church in the Modern World” they said that since Christ gave a new commandment, “The new command of love was the basic law of human perfection – and hence of the world’s transformation.”
Notice that we’re not talking about a self-help program here. It is about a relationship with Christ through which His grace slowly, unseen, imperceptibly changes us and transforms us and thus those around us as well.
I attended a men’s Gospel study recently. About 30 of us meet around a table while another 15 typically call in via speakerphone. After we read this week’s Gospel, there was an unusual long moment of silence. A man spoke up on the phone and mentioned that a friend had invited him to call in and listen. He shared a story that he was a highly qualified management consultant who had had a lucrative engagement with the government. He had lost his job because of government cutbacks and the sordid environment of current government. Money was gone and he was absolutely crushed and discouraged.
Another man then told his story on how a family member had went through the family inheritance and thus he and his wife were now spending their own hard earned fortunes to support their parents. They were going through money rather quickly but had also received financial assistance and emotional and spiritual support from others, often in most unexpected ways.
Another man related how he and his family had lost everything to a Ponzi scheme. They were absolutely broke and his wife, with tears in her eyes one day asked, “Where are we going to find the money to feed our children?”
He went further, “it is difficult and daunting – when you’re looking into a future of hypothetical’s – to see hope, light and possibility. But you did two things today that were key:
- You knew it was important to “Get your soul in the room.”
- You were brave enough to speak and – “reveal the sword in your heart.”
The etymology of the name, “Joseph” is “YHWH meaning will increase/add.” St. Joseph exercised “custodial devotion” to The Lord and his mother. Joseph was the one standing in the background, watching what was going on and also making sure it did go on. St. Joseph was a live symbol of God the Father and by watching his example; it was from St. Joseph that Jesus learned about “The Father.”
The brother continued, “This whole thing is not your fault, so let it go. And now let US do OUR JOB for you. Every man around this table has been where you are. It’s time for you to “lay your burden down” and let us, and Christ, carry the cross for you.”
As the men shared, offered phone numbers, emails and network contacts, offered prayers and opportunities to meet with the guy to build him up, you could physically “feel” the transformation in the room, it was that palpable.
Sometimes life gets rough, really rough. It’s at those times, it’s important to find a place – Church, Blessed Sacrament, bible study, to “get your soul in the room” and let it touch the Lord Jesus. And we need to be brave enough to speak and “reveal the sword in your heart” and let others carry the weight for us – until we can do the same for others. (2 Corinthians 1:2-4)
Audio version of homily is here: