Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Homily: 33rd Sunday of the Year

Malachi 3:19-20
Psalms 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
Second Thessalonians 3:7-12
Luke 21:5-19

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever. Amen.

1. Well Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. What is it about Thanksgiving that appeals to us so much? Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that really gets our juices flowing. Maybe it’s the food…I like that part. Maybe it’s the family gatherings. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because deep within us there is a desire to give thanks to God. It seems to me, that in most people, there is an inherent knowledge that we should give thanks to God. We all know, deep within ourselves how very blessed we are, and so naturally we feel a need to give thanks to God, who has given us all of these gifts.

2. For us as Catholics this is especially true, because the spirit of giving thanks to God is at the heart of our lives. It is what we come every to Mass every Sunday to do, in fact the very word Eucharist means thanksgiving. So for us as Catholics, every day is Thanksgiving Day, every day is a day where we can come to the Eucharist- to Thanksgiving - in order to give God thanks for the gifts He gives us, and there are so many of them.

3. As Catholics we have been given so many gifts that often times we take them for granted. I would like to talk about three of these gifts, today. First, the gift of baptism which washes away original sin, makes us children of God, and members of His family - which is the Church. This is one gift that we Catholics share in common with our separated brothers and sisters. It is also a gift that we often take for granted, in part because most of us don’t remember our baptism, but nevertheless we could say it was the single most important day of our life, because it was the day we became children of God, and that’s no small thing. To be a child of God means that we have a Father who will always watch over us, who will always make sure that no matter what happens, that He is there to help us through it. It also means that we have a family, the family of the Church; a family which is full of heroes and saints, and a goodly number of sinners too.

4. Second, God has given us the gift of the Sacrament of Penance. A sacrament where we come to have a personal encounter Jesus and have our sins forgiven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church…." In other words, the only way that we know for sure that our sins are forgiven is to go to confession. Some people out there might say that we don’t even commit sin, that it’s some sort of disease that can’t be stopped. Some people will tell you that you don’t even need to confess, since we don’t really sin. Or they might say we can just confess our sins in private prayer without going to confession. People who teach these things are not teaching what Christ taught. They have strayed from the true teachings of Christ, they have refused a gift that Jesus desires to give them, the gift of knowing for sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that our sins are forgiven no matter how horrible they may be. What an awesome gift it is to know that our sins are forgiven. It’s a gift that so many in our world, and even in our Church, to not accept as frequently as they should. So in thanksgiving to God for giving us the Sacrament of Penance we should accept the gift and go to confession.

5. The third gift from God that we often times take for granted is the Eucharist itself. The Eucharist, the Church teaches us, is the source and summit of our lives. It is the be all and end all of our faith. Why do we as Catholic put so much emphasis on the Eucharist? Because the Eucharist is Christ Himself. As most of you this past weekend I was at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul with a group of eight young men who are thinking about the priesthood. While I was there I heard a priest share his vocation story. It was a story that was very powerful – almost unbelievable. One of the things that he talked about was how he was raised with really no religion at all – his family’s religion was sports, but when he was getting ready to go to high school his parents decided to send him to Catholic high school; not because of the faith, but because it had a good sports program. While he was there he had an experience of the Eucharist that changed his mind about religion and about the Catholic Faith. In a moment of prayer at Mass he knew that the Eucharist was Jesus – he knew in an instant, that what he thought was ridiculous – that bread and wine could turn into the very body and blood of Jesus – was real. After that, he knew he had to become Catholic, which is what he did. After High School he moved to Mississippi to play college baseball, and there, in the an environment which was predominantly protestant and anti-Catholic, he began to doubt his decision to become Catholic – after all, many of his new protestant friends were telling him that what he believed as a Catholic was not true. In the midst of this doubting he began to visit many protestant communities, he went worshiped with them, he prayed with them, and many of them had many great things going for them. For some it was the preaching, for others it was the music, for others it was their youth program, but no matter what denomination he worshiped with there was one thing missing. It was the Eucharist. It was the true presence of Christ in the tabernacle. It was the gift of being able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. He found himself going to a protestant worship service, and then rushing off to Mass because he just couldn’t go without receiving the Eucharist.

6. My brothers and sisters, what a gift it is to have the Eucharist. What a gift it is to have this act of thanksgiving where we literally receive into our bodies God Himself, yet so many of us take it for granted, so many of us fall into the trap of making something so extraordinary, something so amazing, into something that is just routine. May God deliver us from such a thing! May He make us truly grateful for this gift. May he inspire in us a desire to give thanks for such a gift by accepting the gift frequently – certainly every Sunday since it would be sinful to willing miss Mass on Sunday – but also on other days as well. Thanksgiving Day would be the perfect day to accept this gift, to come, grateful for the gifts God has given us and give thanks, the Thanks of the Church, which we call the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. May we never, on a day set aside by our Country to give thanks, fail to give the greatest Thanksgiving we could give: that of joining in the eternal Thanksgiving which is the Holy Mass.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Mary, Queen of all Saints, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us. Amen.

1 comment:

Festes said...

It is a great gift.Just think the body and blood of that BASDARD JESUS CHRIST..It is something i receive EVERY SUNDAY just so i can DESCRATE the FUCKING thing.I PISS on it i shit on it,i puke on it,i step on it all the while CURSING THE FUCKING NAME OF JESUS FUCKING CHRIST...