Monday, September 13, 2010

Homily - Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

I invite you to join us next Sunday for the parish’s second annual Peace Celebration. Details are in the bulletin. So, I just want to encourage you to bring family and friends to hear Father Wagner and enjoy a wonderful evening together.
[10:00 am Mass - Welcome PSR families, thank teachers, and thank parents]
In today’s First Reading, God is deservedly mad because of the behavior of the Israelites and wants to punish them. It is Moses who intercedes on behalf of the Israelite people by reminding God of all God has done for Israel and the promises God has made to them. Moses’ appeal to God’s steadfast compassion and love prevails and, in the end, God does show his great mercy to the Israelites.
Moses advocacy foreshadows the work of Christ. It is Jesus Christ, on the cross, who prays: “Father, forgive them.” And it Jesus, who now sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us. And so, while we correctly direct our prayers to the Father, we pray through the Son who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
We can trust that Jesus will ask the Father to provide what we need. We can trust Jesus because Jesus loves us – he died for us! We can also trust that Jesus will intercede for us because it is Jesus who knows our human weaknesses, our pains, our sufferings and wants us to be free of them to experience the joy that only the Father can offer us.
We can also trust that Jesus will perfectly intercede for us because it is Jesus who knows the Father’s great love for us and is always obedient to the Father, who wills that the truth of his love be shared with all. It is God, who is like the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to seek out the one lost sheep, or like the woman who will go to great expense and energy to find a lost coin, or like the loving father who patiently waits for his lost son to return. This is our loving God!
What I also like about today’s First Reading is that it reminds us that God not only loves us, shows great mercy towards us, and is willing to go to great lengths for us, but he also ever-present and wants a personal relationship with us. When we read closely the story of the golden calf, the Israelites were not necessarily worshipping another god, rather they were trying to fill a need or desire to have that personal experience or intimacy with God – this is maybe the same void that we can feel in our own lives with God, especially with the loss or absence of a loved one, but also in our day-to-day routines.
So, the golden calf was for the Israelites something that represented God – to whom they might express their trust. And it is easy for us to act like the Israelites did. While we may not take all of our jewelry and melt it into a calf, we do use things and (even) people to fill the emptiness we feel in our lives when we alienate ourselves from God’s love. And this is exactly what the readings for the past several weeks have challenged us to consider – how do our possessions and relationships block us from our relationship with God. The truth is that only God can bring us the peace, the joy, the happiness that we desire.
As today’s readings reminds us, the emptiness that we may feel is not because of God, but because of our own choice to rebel against or reject God’s love. It is God, who is ever-present – taking the initiative to be in relationship with us. In fact, it is our loving God, who gives us Moses and prophets; who gave us his Son. It is our loving God who gives us the Church to continue what Jesus started and to ensure that we always know God’s love. And it is our loving God who gives us the Sacraments so that we may personally experience God and be filled with his grace to live great and holy lives.
All this is done to draw us closer to Him – to bring us closer to the joy we were made to experience. The choice is ours to make. So seek first the peace, the joy, the love that God offers you.
This week, pray for the grace from God to grow in your relationship with Him and to remove any distraction from that relationship. God WILL respond with love and mercy and WILL provide you with what you need to grow in relationship with him. ALSO, pray with confidence that your prayers will be heard by the Father through his Son, who is perfectly and constantly interceding for us.
May God bless you.