Message: One died for all. Therefore, the love of Christ impels.
This is the third homily in a 4 part series titled, "Through Him." We come to the Father through Him - through Jesus. The first homily focused on Jesus' presence in the Eucharist - the bread and wine that become Jesus' body and blood . In the second homily we learned that Jesus is the kingdom - in his person. That's why St. Paul says longs to be with the Lord.
Today St. Paul reveals that that longing is the driving force of his life. "The love of Christ impels us," he says. You and I are not St. Paul, but on some level we feel that driving force. As I mentioned in previous homilies, the Disciple Maker survey indicate that 40% have encountered Jesus Christ and are growing as disciples and that for 41% the relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship in your life. Four out of every five parishioners speak about the powerful force of Jesus in their lives.
Still, some are hesitant. I would to say a word to the reluctant. You might feel like the disciples in today's Gospel - the middle of storm, in danger of capsizing or drown. You might even be asking, "Does God, does Jesus, even care?"
I ask you to do this. As much as you can, try to find a moment of quiet. Turn off the electronic devices. Compose yourself. You might have a Bible next to you. Ask the big question, the one we hear today. Who is this? Perhaps be a more specific: What if Jesus is not just an historical figure, but everything - the kingdom in his person? And: What if that host - that piece of unleavened bread - is really the body and blood of Jesus?
It may take a little courage, but consider addressing him directly: Who are you? Please, show yourself to me.
Realize that you are not alone. Others have come to the conviction, as St. Paul says, that "one died for all." That Jesus died not just for humanity, but for you personally.
That is why the love of Christ impels. This does not mean we are perfect. I don't know about you, but every day I struggle with spiritual laziness, anger, greed, lust, envy, gluttony - and arrogance. Sometimes I give in, but I want you to know those urges - and even those sins - they do not define me. And they do not define you. Brothers and sisters, one died for all. Therefore, the love of Christ impels.
I think of a great lawyer who became a saint. Don't look at me that way. There are some lawyers in heaven. (smile) Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Thomas More. King Henry VIII put him to death for not affirming his divorce and remarriage. When he was in prison awaiting his death - a death that possibly included mutilation and other tortures - he wrote to his daughter Margaret. "Meg," he writes, "Nothing can come but what God allows. And I am sure that whatever it may be, however bad it might seem, it shall indeed be for the best."
Perhaps St. Thomas heard a voice, like in today's Gospel: "Why are you terrified? Why do you not have faith?" You and I can also hear that voice and experience some of the awe the disciples felt. And say, "Yes, the love of Christ impels us." Amen.
*Here is my plan for the summer months:
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