Saturday, June 18, 2016

Homily for the 12th Sunday Ordinary Time

Who are you?  I really want to know, who are you?  This lyrical question was asked by the 70's rock group known as The Who.  It's a great question.

If somone asked you "who are you" common responses might be to tell them your name and before you know it, you are telling them what you do.  In our culture and nation, we equate identity with doing.  Today I want to propose it's more about being than doing!

As an example I share my "being" as a grandfather.  I go by "pops" to my two beautiful grandchildren, Calvin & Katelyn.  Sadly, there live 820 miles away.  Thankfully, my wife and I manage about 20 vacation days a year to visit Calvin & Katelyn and we Skype weekly.  Now I dare say that no one here would claim that I am only "pops" on those few days when we visit our grandchildren.  On these days I am busy doing things as a grandfather, but every day of the year, every minute of everyday, I'm still pops.  My identity is not determined by my doing, it's determined by my being.  As a Permanent Deacon, many folks hold that same opinion.  When I assist at Mass, go to the prison, meet couples preparing for marriage or baptize babies I am doing my diaconate ministry.  But I also go to work everyday at my bank job, I have dinner with friends, occasionaly I relax at home, and all summer long I cut the grass.  And still, in all these situations and so many more, I don't stop being Deacon.  My identity is not determined by my doing, it's determined by my being.

As people of faith, who do YOU say that Jesus is in YOUR life?

St. Luke records today's question and answer session in his 9th chapter, as Jesus and his followers are traveling across the countryside healing, preaching and teaching.  At this pivotal moment, Jesus arrives at his furthest point from Jerusalem before he suddenly turns around and heads back toward the holy city.  And we know what Jesus would face upon his return; his trial, his persecution and his death.  And we also know that he will rise again!  So Jesus takes this opportunity as they begin the journey back to Jerusalem to ask, who do the folks say I am?  After giving a variety of answers Jesus reframes the question, but who do you say that I am?  Peter, given a great moment of grace declares "you are the Christ of God!"  Notice how he answered: The Christ of God!  This answer should serve as a reminder to us that Christ is not Jesus' last name.  Christ is not even about His doing, it's about His being, His identity; Christ meaning the anointed one.  This would recall King David, who was anointed as the chosen one of God.  As his descendant, now Jesus is the one chosen by the Father to save mankind and love us all the way home to Heaven. 

Jesus tells us that this love that leads to Heaven requires real effort and real sacrifice.  We must take up His cross, follow Him and even be prepared to lose our life for the sake of truly saving it.  This all sounds like doing, but it's actually about our being.  My identity, everyday of my life, every minute of my day, is to be a follower of Christ, a lover of Christ and a lover of my brother and sister.
And who is my brother and sister?  St. Paul kind of helps us with this question today; it's the Jew and the Greek, the slave and the free, the man and the woman.  Our brothers and sisters today are our fellow sinners.  Our brothers and sisters today are those who live on the margins of our culture and our society.  Our brothers and sisters are those massacred last week in Orlando, those who grieve their loss and those killed weekly on the mean streets of challenged cities, sadly like those close to home in New Orleans.  And incredibly, our brothers and sisters are those who so easily and cavalierly hurt and even kill others.  Our brothers and sisters are those who think like us and those who do not think like us; those who look like us and those who do not look like us.  And we are called, not by our doing only but by our being; our identity as a follower of Christ, to love them all.  To love them all the way to Heaven, by our prayers, our example, our good works and our total surrender to the one who is called the Christ of God.

Remember, it's so much more than what we do, it's all about who we are!
Who are you; who are you? I really want to know!

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