Sunday, September 11, 2011

Homily - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

What I especially like about today’s readings is that they reveal a very important truth, beauty and joy about our God. God our Father is “kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion” and who wants more than anything to restore the broken relationship we have with him because of sin. It is our loving God who, as we sung in the Psalm: pardons all our iniquities, heals all our ills, redeems our life from destruction and crown us with kindness and compassion. Today’s readings challenge us to be restored in this love relationship with our God by seeking forgiveness and forgiving.
Today’s second reading and Gospel were originally intended for communities filled with conflict and tension. And so, we have Paul’s letter to the Christian community in Rome and Matthew’s Gospel for the Christian Gentiles in Antioch. These letters are a plea to these communities to be united, not divided, by recognizing their oneness through and with Christ and then seeking forgiveness and granting forgiveness. In fact, Matthew recalls Jesus challenge to his disciples to forgive “not seven times, but seventy-seven times,” which means as often as necessary and in excess!
The plea found in today’s readings is also directed to each of us. I suspect that you might be like me and find it hard, at times, to seek forgiveness and grant forgiveness. There is often so much hurt, pain and even anger in relationships, which is further compounded by our own pride and egos. We see this in our families, places of work, and in our communities. This weekend’s Anniversary of the tragic events of 9-11 is a sober reminder of this reality in our world.
Before we can forgive others from our hearts, as Jesus commands us; before we can get to a place where we can begin to seek forgiveness and grant forgiveness as we are called to do, we must first start with a hard look at our self – becoming more aware of our own faults and weakness and how we have offended God and others. This requires a great humility to say I am not perfect, that the world does not evolve around me, and to take responsibility and accountability rather than blame God or someone else when things don’t go the way I want. There is actually a great freedom and sense of peace that we can experience when we acknowledge our faults and weaknesses, even when it may be embarrassing or a sign of weakness to do so.
For this reason, I like the fact that we begin the celebration of the Mass with the Penitential Rite – taking a moment to reflect on our sins and asking for the mercy of God and others. In doing this, we stand together with our fellow Christians to acknowledge our own faults and failings and to seek forgiveness before we experience God in the Sacred Scripture and in the Eucharist. We stand together, as the Body of Christ, united in faith and hope in our loving God.
In the new Roman Missal, which we will being to use during Advent, the Confiteor – the “I confess to Almighty God” prayer of the Penitential Rite – will change slightly to provide a more accurate translation from Latin to English and will better ground us in the Scriptural sources for this part of the Mass. There are several notable changes:
First, instead of say simply saying “I have sinned” we will say “that I have greatly sinned,” which is taken from King David’s acknowledgment of his own sin against God.
The second change is the repeating three times of the statement “through my fault” with the third time including the words “through my most grievous fault” – this is done not to glorify our sins, but to heighten the awareness and responsibility for our sins.
Finally, the new Roman Missal encourages the striking of the chest three times as we say “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” This practice is actually an ancient practice proper for this prayer, which never went out of use, maybe only out of fashion.
The hope is that these changes will cause in each of us, as we pray this prayer, a greater awareness and responsibility for the personal sin in our life and our need for conversion, forgiveness and a restoration in our relationship with God.
And my prayer for you is that you will find a peace and even a freedom that comes from acknowledging and taking responsibility for your own faults and failings – and in doing so, you are then able to see your son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister, co-worker or friend, or even a stranger as one in Christ. And thus we can be quick and generous in forgiving those who offend us and humble, yet confident in seeking forgiveness from others.
My friends, be filled by the grace of the Eucharist we are about to receive that you may today acknowledge your own sinfulness; seek forgiveness from God and others, whom you have offended; and be able and ready to forgive others from our heart, not just 7 times, but 77 times.
May God bless you!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Knaus and Bauerle Homily

Jeffrey Knaus & Maren Bauerle

Introduce self

Unfortunately, I did not have the joy to prepare them for marriage, we have to credit Father Belden (St. Paul MN) with getting them here, but since Maren went to grade school here at Our Lady of Peace, I am guessing that she is a very smart young woman. She and Jeffrey intentionally selected Labor Day weekend to marry.

MAYBE: Long holiday weekend to extend celebration (at the risk of running out of wine as in the Gospel)
To be in Columbus Ohio for a home Watterson and OSU football game
Easy to remember Anniversary (wish I would have thought of that)

But maybe it is that you appreciate that Marriage is truly a labor of love. Today’s second reading expresses this love to which you must aspire to and work for in your marriage:
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it not selfish, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. IT NEVER FAILS.
Such love certainly requires – like any labor we do – hard work, sacrifice, teamwork, humility, patience – these and many more graces that you now receive through this Sacrament!

And this labor is worth it! In our day jobs, in which we labor, we work for a paycheck to pay bills or buy stuff, maybe we work for the weekend – so that we can enjoy things and people. However, with Marriage our goal – the purpose of our labor – is to get our spouse to Heaven - that perfect unity with our loving God, who – as we read in our First Reading - made each of us - man and woman - out of love to be one in love. It is in Heaven that we will experience the eternal joy, peace, and happiness God desires for us from the very beginning.

Maren and Jeffrey – please never forget this primary purpose of marriage!

Just as Jesus – in today’s Gospel – began his public ministry, you two also now begin your public ministry to each other with this goal in mind. So, it is a very important and significant that you begin with this very public action that they are making today. You are stating in a very public way before all of us gathered here to say:

1. That you have come here FREELY and WITHOUT RESERVATION
2. To give yourself FULLY AND COMPLETELY to each other
3. That you will love each other FOREVER
4. That you will be OPEN LIFE and to raise any children in the Catholic faith
5. To do this in GOOD TIMES and BAD, SICKNESS and HEALTH, for the REST of their LIFE

I personally thank you for making this public statement of your love for each other.

I also thank you for making this public statement of your hope and trust in our Catholic faith that will guide you and support you in your marriage.

I pray that your marriage is filled with great joy in the years to come and that this labor of love which you public begin today leads both of you to eternal joy and peace with our loving God.