Message: We can make a new beginning with God's plan.
Today's readings speak about God's plan. Ezra reads aloud the entire book of the law - God ordinances for his people. St. Paul writes about God giving us different gifts so we would work together. And Luke - in the preface to his Gospel - says he wants to write things down "in an orderly sequence." St. Paul calls Luke "the beloved physician." (Col 4:14) As a medical doctor, Luke knows the importance of having a plan not just for writing a Gospel, but to achieve health and strength.
God has a plan: individually for you and me, as well as a plan for us together. In our parish this month we are asking, "God, what do want of us? What are your priorities and goals for St. Mary of the Valley?"
We don't start from scratch. We know from the Bible and twenty centuries of Christian reflection that God creates us for his glory: each of us reflects some aspect of God's goodness, beauty, power and wisdom. He means us to use those gifts for the common good, ultimately for the salvation of souls.
Someday this world will turn to dust. The greatest monument - say the pyramids or Machu Picchu - will eventually crumble. The humblest soul, however, will endure. Where that person spends eternity carries more weight than all the wars, elections and stock markets. God makes us for his glory and for eternal salvation. That's his overall plan.
But what specifically does God want you and me to do? What does he want for our parish? Those questions require prayer, study and discernment. Like St. Luke, before he wrote his Gospel, he spent time doing research and reflection - "investigating everything accurately anew." We are doing something similar. I encourage to continue using the Renewal Prayer that we have been saying in our Masses and our homes.
We can learn a lot from Luke. Spontaneity has its place, but if we don't form a plan, we won't get far. We all know people who have big ideas, but they go nowhere. They never get started. They prefer to do whatever makes them feel good, whatever eases their pain. Let's be honest: from time to time you and I do the same. It doesn't bring great results. To really achieve something great, we need discipline, a plan.
For example, you know that God gives us the Sunday obligation - to attend Mass on Sunday or the Saturday Vigil. God has this requirement because if we go by how we feel, we quickly fall away. Every Sunday morning I spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament praying for our households. The devil particularly attacks our families when they are getting ready for Mass. For some homes it's World War III. People are tired, maybe they stayed up late. There's always something more attractive than Mass. When a person stands before Jesus, it might be embarrassing to say "I know you said, 'Do this in memory of me,' but I preferred the TV, my bed, my computer..."
We of course have excuses: All those hypocrites down there, the music, Father talks too much, it's boring. Yes, we want to work on those things. That's part of our discernment. But please do not wait until we have it perfect. Decide now to follow Jesus' word, "Do this..." Make the Mass your starting point - your most important weekly commitment.
God gives us obligations. These duties trump feelings. In a job people realize they can't rely on how they feel when they wake. Likewise, well thought out obligations can keep us moving forward on God's plan, can help us realize his purpose for our lives.
Now, doing God's plan is more than gritting one's teeth and going through the motions. Remember last week we talked about the nuptial relationship between God and Israel - how Jesus is the divine Bridegroom. In the Bible God constantly calls his people to remember the days of courtship - how great you felt when you first discovered that relationship. When we grow cold and cynical, God calls us back to the desert where he woos us. In a few weeks we begin Lent. We will return to the desert with Jesus the bridegroom.
We can make a new beginning with God's plan. I'll speak more about this next week when we hear God calling a young man. We will also hear the most popular reading for weddings. It clarifies the difference between romantic and Christian love. Don't miss it. For today I ask you to continue your discernment prayer. What is your will for me? What is your plan for our parish? As the Psalm tells us, "The law of the Lord is perfect." It refreshes the soul. Amen.
From Archives (Homilies for Third Sunday, Year C):
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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
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