WARNING Homily of primarily local interest WARNING
Thus says the Lord, “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion.”
Exactly three years ago, dear parishioners, Bishop DiLorenzo appointed a certain tall noodlebrain as the pastor of a great and glorious new parish cluster, spanning two noble counties.
So, daughter Zion, you can rejoice: three years of your sentence have been served. Now, I’m sorry to have to tell you, this torture could last another nine years.
…Some of us know that Pope Francis wrote an Apostolic Exhortation, which became very famous. President Obama said he read it. Chris Matthews said he read it. It’s possible that Clint Dempsey has read it.
There is a passage in Pope Francis’ book that, surprisingly, has not gotten any press. I promise you that I am not making this up. I quote our Holy Father:
The faithful and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them.
So the Pope feels your pain.
In 2011, I had fewer gray hairs. I was happy-go-lucky that Fourth of July, just looking for a burger, medium rare, with lettuce tomato mayonnaise. And a Dairy-Queen Blizzard for dessert.
Since then, as a family of faith, we have faced challenges. We have had occasion to dig deep and find out what we are really made of. We have tried to learn from the good Lord how to pray better and how to love better.
But… This is a nice, long weekend. Summertime now holds us fully in its relaxing, warm embrace. Let me share this one particular reflection with you.
One thing has accompanied me, has helped me, through thick and thin these past three, sometimes-tiring years.
Namely: Jesus Christ. His unique revelation of the face of the Almighty Father, uniquely wonderful and uniquely beautiful. This revelation, entrusted to us, offers us, and offers the world, the kind of joy, peace, and happiness that people can only dream about.
Now, in certain circles people talk incessantly about Jesus, as if He were some kind of pet, some personal accessory for my life. In other circles, people never mention Him at all, never seem to give the most beautiful man who ever lived a second thought.
Is He not real? Is He not a Person, Who beckons us closer all the time, Who makes strenuous demands, and Who bears us up with His ineffably gentle strength? He exposes our weaknesses and hypocrisy; He makes us weep for our sins. But then He comforts us and gives us a fresh start and brings good out of evil.
He wishes to reveal the heavenly Father to us. We have His own words in evidence for this.
God cannot be a pet. God cannot be a possession. God cannot be a personal accessory for my wardrobe. Either we serve Christ as our Master, or we have nothing to do with Him. He makes friends with the humble.
But, by the same token: God cannot pass unnoticed. We cannot leave God in the back of the garage, to be dealt with at a later date, because we know we can’t quite deal with Him now. God makes Himself familiar. He makes Himself a daily presence.
You know, the truth is: I have had much harder years than these past three. After all, I am old. I can remember how painful it was for my dear grandmother to have to transition from Tab to Diet Coke. I can remember my friends complaining to me about receiving harshly worded Lotus Notes from their bosses. I can remember when Leonardo DiCaprio was significantly skinnier than me.
But Jesus Christ is the sun that never sets. He is very much alive. And He has endowed His Church with the living Truth–Himself, present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. He draws us together around Him, under this roof, to love Him and each other.
We have three great years in together, dear brothers and sisters, with another nine to go, may it please the Lord. It’s not our job to re-invent the wheel; it’s not our job to re-design a “church for the future.” Our duty, clear and simple: Obey the commandments of Christ. Believe, trust, love, and follow Him. He holds tomorrow in His Almighty hands. He simply asks us to give Him our best today.
For all the times these past three years when I have failed you as a pastor, I am sorry. I beg you to forgive me.
And thanks for being so kind to me on my birthday. The birthday that really matters, of course, is when we die to selfishness and find new life in Christ. We will celebrate the birthday party we really want when we get to heaven.
In the meantime, let’s march on, united in faith, and united in prayer. Let’s march on toward the great and glorious day. The great and glorious day when the U.S. brings home the World Cup. Or the end of time. Whichever comes first.