The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Homily: Wednesday, 28th Week in Ordinary Time

Readings: Rom 2:1-11; Ps 62; Lk 11:42-46

Some years ago I read a book in which the author described a dream. An angel took her to a church to worship. She saw the organist playing. The organ's keys went up and down, but no music came from the organ. She saw the choir singing. The singers' mouths opened and closed, but no song came from their lips. She saw the congregation praying. Their lips moved, but no voices could be heard.

The woman turned to the angel and said, "Why don't I hear anything!

The angel said, "There's nothing to hear."

Reading today’s Gospel passage from Luke, I thought of this dream and found myself asking: do I, too, sometimes just go through the motions? Do I really accept and exult in God’s real presence here in Community, Word, and Eucharist? How faithfully do I worship my God and Savior not only with my lips but also with my heart and my life?

Or am I like the Pharisees? Oh, they were very religious men -- religious, but not necessarily holy. Religion consumed their lives, and they measured everything they did against it. Quite literally, it meant everything to them. Unfortunately it left little room in their lives for either God or neighbor. Religion for them was a thing they did, an end in itself. What remained was superficial in the strictest sense of the word: all about surfaces.

Jesus affirmed this on another occasion when he said, “If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  [Mt 5:20]

In their misguided zeal, the Pharisees required unnecessary and burdensome rules that led people away from God rather than to Him.

The missing ingredient was God’s love, the love that we (and they) are called on to share with the world. For God is love, brothers and sisters, and everything He does flows from His love for us.  And God’s Love is sacrificial. Just look at the Cross! It‘s a Love that embraces and lifts the burdens of all who come to Him, all who seek Him. 

Have you ever noticed how, in the absence of love, everything goes wrong? How could it be otherwise? After all, if love is absent, God has been rejected. Do you realize that? All those loveless moments in your life: each represents a rejection of God.

Of course loving one another as God loves us can be difficult indeed. Actually, it’s impossible without God’s grace to help us. Yes, loving as Jesus loves becomes the study and struggle of a lifetime -- and that’s what conversion is all about.

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