Home of the Homesick

(Homily for Second Sunday of Lent - Year C)

Bottom line: Our citizenship is heaven. In Jesus we find the country we long for, our true home.

St. Paul says, "our citizenship is in heaven." What is heaven? Today's Gospel gives a glimpse. Jesus leads Peter, James and John up a mountain where he is transfigured. They see some of his glory. When they come down, however, they fall silent - they don't tell anyone what happened.

Their silence does not mean they are introverts. In fact, they are quite talkative - especially Peter! What they saw was beyond words. They glimpsed heaven: their true country, their true home.

You and I will not experience the same as the three favored disciples - but we do get glimpses of heaven - our true homeland. Once a man took pride in being "strictly scientific," of not going in for emotion and sentiment. But one day he admitted (very shyly) that he had bought a DVD - not to watch the movie, but to hear the song at the end. It struck a deep cord, a longing, a yearning he could not put into words.

I have seen that yearning in my parish ministry. I have had the privilege of serving a large immigrant population. They come to our country seeking a better life or even to escape violence. Some have told me how much they miss their home. When they see the Sky River, they think of a river in their own country. When they are shopping, they sometimes remember the market in their home town. They miss friends and family members. But, you know, if they return home, the hills would not be as green as they imagine, the family reunion will deliver the joy they hope. The country they long for is not Mexico or Poland or the Philippines. The country they long for is heaven!

You and I may not be immigrants, but we are all exiles. God has put in a longing for our true homeland. But this longing comes with a danger. Because things in this world can spark that longing, we can begin to think that something here will satisfy it. Paul gives the example of food. Some have become "enemies of the cross," he says, because "their god is their stomach."

We can have other idols: sex, money, honor. Like food, they are good in themselves, but if we make them an end in themselves, they become destructive - false gods. The result is sad. A person can get to the point that he stuffs himself with food even though there is no longer any pleasure. The same can be said of gambling, alcohol, pornography, drugs, television, money. If a person clings to any false god, it eventually brings no pleasure, only addiction, enslavement.

In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo finally gets to the point of throwing away the evil ring. He cannot do it. He cannot bear to part from his "precious." The ring has to be torn from his hand. Sometimes God takes extreme measures to free us from false gods, bring us to our true home.

To get to heaven - to arrive home - requires a kind of death. When Jesus was transfigured, Moses and Elijah spoke about his "Exodus," that is his suffering, death and resurrection.

No one wants to die. Woody Allan made this humorous remark, "I'm not afraid of death. I just don't want to be there when it happens." We do have a certain fear of death - perhaps even more than physical death, to die to sin, to give up false gods.

At our Men's Conference we will consider what it means to die and rise to new life in Christ. The Conference will include the chance for Confession, Eucharistic Adoration, talks by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, Fr. Ed White and Archbishop Sartain. Pray that our men will become spiritual leaders, men who will lead their families to our true home.

A Presbyterian pastor named C.R. Wiley writes that "Christianity has always been the home of the homesick."* If you sense a longing that nothing in this world can satisfy, I invite you to continue the Lenten journey with us. In four weeks we will celebrate Palm Sunday - the beginning of Holy Week. We will immerse ourselves in what Jesus speaks about today - his Exodus. By dying with him - by dying to sin - we will find the purpose of our existence. Jesus, as St. Paul says, will "change our lowly body" and "bring all things into subjection."

Our citizenship is heaven. In Jesus we find the country we long for, our true home. Amen.

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*From "Lost & Found in the Cosmos - The Alternate & Alternative Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft and C.S. Lewis" in Touchstone Magazine, February 2013. The citations from Lewis come from that article.

Earlier Version

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From Archives (Year C homilies for 2nd Sunday of Lent):

First Things: Children (2016)
Home of the Homesick (2013)
Freedom from False Gods (2010)
Chosen (2007)
They Spoke of His Exodus (2004)
Voice from the Earthquake (2001)
Enemies of the Cross (1998)

Homilies for Second Sunday of Lent ("Transfiguration Sunday")

2016: First Things: Children
2015: New Mind and Heart Week 2
2014: Prayer and Spiritual Combat Week 2
2013: Home of the Homesick
2012: The Convenant with Noah Today
2011: Sons of Abraham
2010: Freedom from False Gods
2009: A Glimpse of the Mystery
2008: Visit of Fr. Peter West
2007: Chosen
2006: Trust
2005: A Confrontation with Evil
2004: They Spoke of His Exodus
2003: Exposing a Modern Myth
2002: The Boston Scandal: A Lenten Reflection
2001: Voice from the Earthquake
2000: A Million Dollars for Your TV
1999: God or Gods of Culture?
1998: Enemies of the Cross

Homily for Transfiguration 2006: The Son of Man
..........2000: What Lies Beneath

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