The Last Sunrise

(Homily for Third Sunday, B)

This week we received a beautiful blessing: the visit of St. Therese's relics to Seattle. Relics, especially of a Saint like Therese, speak to something deep in Christian faith. We are after all an historical religion. At a certain moment, two thousand years ago, God took on human flesh in the womb of a Virgin. That event which continues till this day is called the Incarnation from the Latin in, in + carnis, flesh. Jesus retains his human nature and will do so for all eternity. The Church, which he founded, extends the Incarnation in time and space. The veneration of relics is one aspect of our incarnational, that is historical, faith.* As Tim McDonald pointed out last Sunday, the practice goes back to the New Testament. (See Acts 19:12)

Being members of Jesus Church, that is, his ongoing presence in the world, St. Paul tells us we are living in an interim period: Jesus has already redeemed us by his cross and resurrection, but the final subjection of all things to him has not yet arrived. Paul instructs us on how we are to act. Think about what you would do if this morning's sunrise was the last one. The sadness you feel would suddenly become very relative; same with rejoicing. The person dearest to you - say your wife - you would see in a whole new light. And your possessions, well, you would want to get them to those who could most benefit from them. As St. Paul says, "the world in its present form is passing away."

How free we would be if we really took St. Paul seriously. His words of course are not his own. He receives them from Jesus. In St. Mark's Gospel, the very first words which came from Jesus' lips are, "this is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand." We get a tremendous sense of urgency. If you are mixed up in some sin, "Repent." If you are confused, "Believe in the Gospel." Then he calls two brothers to a radical change: leave behind your nets and "I will make you fishers of men." Now, he would allow them to one day take up their nets again - because in Jesus nothing good is ever lost - but with a completely new meaning. Their boat would symbolize the Church he had come to form.

We are involved in that ongoing process of forming the Church - or rather allowing Jesus to form her thru us. For us one concrete expression is our Holy Family 2000 Project. We are being called to maintain the buildings entrusted to us and to provide for future needs. I am being intentionally brief in my homily this Sunday to allow time for a fuller explanation of this project. It will benefit so many people who look to Holy Family, especially our children. But even more it will express our desire to follow Jesus, to allow him to us in forming his Church here on earth.

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*In this regard Christianity is very different from, say, Buddhism which is more a noble philosophy. If the historical Buddha never existed, it would presumably make little difference to a practitioner of that religion. Not so with Christianity - our meaning comes from our connection with the person of Jesus. As part of the Communion of Saints we are physically bonded with him. (See last Sunday's Homily on this difference between Christianity and Manicheism, a philosophy similar to Buddhism in how it views material creation.)

From the Archives:

Third Sunday, Year B, 2012: Time to Place Your Bet
2009: Repent and Believe
2006: Time Is Running Out
2003: The Third Luminous Mystery
2000: The Last Sunrise
1997: My Call to Priesthood

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

SMV Bulletin

Pictures from Peru

(January 2012)

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