Saturday, May 14, 2016

HOMILY – Pentecost (Year C) (2016)

I want to challenge you to share with someone this week that you are for life. I don’t want you to do this to be political – either endorsing a candidate, a party or an issue; and I don’t want you to do this to be provocative, argumentative, or confrontational. Rather, I want you to do this as a wonderful expression of your faith; your Catholic faith in our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who made us to be in an personal, wonderful love relationship and does everything possible to keep us in this relationship. To say you are pro-life, will immediately – in today’s society and culture – become a political statement (right?), but it is – or at least should be – a statement of faith, hope, trust in the gift of life God has give us so that we may know His love, peace, joy now and eternally. As I have often said from this ambo, our God is a god of life, not death. And our Creed, which we will stand together in just a couple of minutes to profess, says it all! First and foremost, we believe in the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And most especially, we believe that God made US, he made us in his image and likeness. He made us to be in relationship with Him. Life is a wonderful gift from God. A gift that we should cherish above all other things. It is also this gift of life is good, valuable, meaningful, dignified and even sacred. We believe, and profess, in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who he came down from heaven and became man. As Fr. John recently reminded me, we are an Incarnation Church! God became man not only to show us His great love for us and to restore his in the love relationship we were made to live in, but also his Incarnation shows us that there is great dignity in life – the same life God entered into and shares with us. And Jesus, by his very life – by what he said and did – provides us with so many wonderful examples and affirms over-and-over the dignity and value of life. And we know, by his care and attention especially for the weak, the sick, the alienated, that all life has value and worth! Even in Jesus’ suffering and death we can find meaning – certainly that life is fragile and must be protected, but also that by Jesus’ death he restored us in the one relationship that matters more than anything else: our relationship, our life with God. Jesus’ resurrection, which we also profess, is a reminder that truly our God is a god of life, that Jesus has conquered death - death no longer has a hold on us, it is nothing to fear! And it is in the Ascension, which we celebrated last week, that we are reminded, among many things, that 1) Jesus proceeds us and leads us to our goal: eternal life, and 2) that the body matters – Jesus ascended soul AND body as a reminder that our life, our bodies, have value and dignity. We continue our profession of faith by saying that we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. It is the Holy Spirit that gives us life; the Holy Spirit lives in us and transforms us – guiding us and giving us the help to move from despair to hope, from darkness to light, from anxiety to peace, sadness to joy, selfishness to service, death to life. It is this gift that we recall and celebrate in a special way today – the Feast of the Pentecost. Jumping to the end of the Creed, we profess that we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. We believe that at the end of the world the bodies of all the dead will rise from the earth and be united again to their souls eternally. Our bodies are not shells or snake skins that we shed to never use again – just the opposite. Our lives are eternal - body and soul. Our prayer is that we may know – body and soul – eternal peace and joy! Through such faith, we can say that life is good, life matters, it has dignity and value and must be protected at all times. So it makes perfect sense that, as Bishop Campbell says, the vocation of life is primary – even before a vocation to holiness or any particular state of life – we are called to be in relationship, to know and understand this great gift of life from God, and to then protect and defend it from all harm or any threat. It is also through such faith, that we also have a foundation – a source of truth – in other words, a filter or lens to see and understand all things. Certainly this includes the hot-button life issues (abortion, euthanasia, death penalty, just war, immigration), but also includes the day-to-day experiences and encounters of our life. Through the eyes of faith, we can see that there is a dignity and value in every person we encounter – even a stranger or enemy. Through the eyes of faith, we can see that there is a dignity and value in every person: from conception to natural death; whether they are fully-independent or differently-able by disease, injury or age; and regardless of how they look, what they do or say. Yes, all life matters, it is good, it is full of dignity and value! Jesus said in today’s Gospel: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” So, again, I invite you – really I challenge you – to share this week with someone that you are pro-life. Maybe practice with your spouse, your parent or child (heck, practice with me on your way out of the Church after Mass); and then work up the courage or confidence to share with a co-worker, a non-Catholic friend, or even a stranger that you are pro-life. Remember this is not a political statement, but a statement of faith - faith in our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who gives us this wonderful gift of life that we are called to know, share, promote, and defend. Too often we are intimidate, bullied, even persecute for our faith, which includes the value we place on life. But do not be deterred, discouraged or frightened. Share with someone this week that you are pro-life. You just need to say: I am for life, I am pro-life, I am pro-choice and I choose life, life matters – that is all you need to say! Simple and sweet. See, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said: “When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” This passage was intended to encourage the early Church in the face of persecution, and to remind them/us that it is the Holy Spirit that will be our source of courage in the face of persecution. My friends, announce with confidence, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, that you are pro-life. May God bless you.