The Third Week of Easter – The Homily
In today’s Second Reading (1 Peter 1:17-21), we read, “Conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning.” Pope Francis recently spoke about the journey of life when he gave a TED Talk: “The Future You.” (A copy of the transcript is here) In his talk, the Holy Father gave three messages:
Message #1: A happy future is not something impossible to achieve. In the face of many prognosticators who seem to only predict doom and gloom, the Pope said that an optimistic future is possible.
Message #2: “Who is my neighbor?” – namely, “Who should I take care of?” First, you need to take care of yourself. But in order to do that, you have to know who you are. This was referenced years ago by Saint Catherine of Siena, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” At St. Monica, we have decided to take that seriously – and literally – in scheduling a Called and Gifted session for adults. In this way, we will be able to determine what our personal charisms might be and, through this process, answer the question on “Why did God make me?” I have also been speaking about this with our Confirmation candidates in discussion with a spiritual charisms worksheet.
Message #3 – The future has a name, and its name is Hope. In some ways, this is a reflection of the Mission Statement of St. Monica:
Called by Name – Gifted by God – Committed to Prayer –
Driven to Serve – Abiding in Hope
This leads us to the 2nd part of this homily and it also has three parts:
- This is hard.
- It is definitely possible to do.
- But it can ONLY be done with Christ in the Eucharist.
During Lent I heard a lot of grade and high school Confessions. With the younger students, I will often ask them what grade they are in (2nd Grade for example). I then ask two questions: “What is something about 2nd Grade that you like? What is something about 2nd grade that you don’t like?” The “likes” are varied. The dislikes are inevitably answered with “homework!” It’s tough going from 1st grade to 2nd grade. Yet, is this not the difficult journey upon which Christ accompanies us?
In the lives of adults and parents, Jesuit priest Father John Kavanaugh, S.J. talks about a “paradox of faith, of distance and closeness, of belief and unbelief, repeated over and over again in people’s lives.” When life gets tough, many adults simply do not turn to the Lord. Many believe that, if there was a God and if he cared, they wouldn’t be experiencing these difficulties. But this is the “good soil” where a follower “with” Jesus can have a positive impact in the world, simply by using the gifts, talents and charisms that they are good at. Pope Francis spoke to the church workers in Egypt: In the world today, there are “prophets of doom & despair.” But, “Amid prophets of doom & despair, “may you be a positive force, salt & light for this society.”
Another Pope, Pope Paul VI, talked about this issue as year years ago when he wrote in his Encyclical on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975: 18), “For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the good news into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new. …” (See additional insight from Pope Paul VI below).
But you cannot do this without Christ. And there is no Christ without the Eucharist.
Scripture scholar Joyce Zimmerman writes that, “The two men on the way to Emmaus “greatly desired to move from disappointment and unbelief to hearts burning with life and belief—they invited Jesus to stay the night with them. “With the breaking of the bread, the two wayfarers are brought into communion, even though they have not fully acknowledged the mystery that beckons them.” This is where many of our adults are. They’re walking a difficult life-path and want help but don’t even know that Christ is right there walking with them. They simply don’t recognize him in the midst of walking within the mystery. Our own participation in Word and sacrament must give rise to the same desire in us: to seek Life “during the time of your sojourning” – journeying deeper into the mystery.”
The purpose of evangelization is (an) interior change, and if it has to be expressed in one sentence the best way to stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs.
Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 1975: 18 as seen in “Reflections on Justice.”
Audio version of the homily is here: