Sunday, January 21, 2018

Preaching on this 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Moved by the Holy Spirit and the events of these recent days my homily today focuses squarely on the 45th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Church's Pro-Life message and the powerful witness of those who March for Life.  I will not print this homily until I am finished delivering my homily later on this Sunday.  Because of this focus, I spoke only briefly about today's readings,  However, three years ago I did break open God's Word from todays readings and have decided t share today.  You will notice I was then assigned at another church, Most Holy Trinity, and was very specific in my suggested action steps.  Often, it is how I preach.  So for now a homily from three years ago, this evening a homily from today:

Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In 1965 a singer by the name of Del Shannon wrote and performed a song titled "We got to keep searching".  I'm not sure if the lyrics ever told us what we were searching for, but his conclusion was to "keep following the sun".  Let's be clear here, that is S-U-N, sun.

As I listened deeper to the lyrics I was able to think about what I have searched for in my life and what others have told me they are searching for.  Most of us would probably say thinks like we are searching for happiness, for love, for safety.  We may be searching for a great job, or that next dream vacation while others might tell us they are searching for fame and fortune.  What are we searching for?

As people of faith, whatever we are searching for, we are called to follow the Son, that is S-O-N, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, Jesus our hope!

As we continue in Ordinary Time on this winter morning we hear a lot of searching going on in this Sunday's readings.  I would like to focus for a moment today on Paul's second reading to the people of Corinth.  In my experience as a homilist now for over 7 years I can honestly say that rarely, if at all, have I preached on the 2nd reading.  Normally, the readings for our Sunday celebration of the Mass develop a theme most evident in the 1st reading and the Gospel.  Yet there always is much to take from the 2nd reading too.  Most often, not always, but most often the 2nd reading is taken from one of Paul's letters.  We used to commonly refer to the 2nd reading as the Epistle.  Today Paul is giving us something called an eschatological teaching.  Eschatological?  That is a very big word, so what does it mean?  Over simplified, eschatological means concerned with the end times.  Paul is writing to the people of Corinth because in Paul's view, from all he learned from the Scriptures and his up close and personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the end times were imminent.  And the early Christians in places like Corinth believed the end times were near too.  Listen to the eschatological language in today's 2nd reading: time is running out and the world in it's present form is passing away.  Paul goes on to preach how we are to live in view of the end times, the second coming of Jesus Christ.  His pronouncements are not to be viewed as warnings to scare the Corinthians, rather a warning to be prepared.  A warning to make sure they were focused on the right thing, searching for the right thing, searching and  following the Son, S-O-N!

Addressed to the people of Corinth, this letter from St. Paul is addressed to us too, today.  Yes, it's been almost 2,000 years and the world has not come to an end, Jesus' glorious 2nd coming has not yet happened.  When it will happen no one knows.  We might remember some of the more sensationalist claims of end of the world predictions, of some cults going too far in predicting the last day.  Do we remember the attempt at hysteria when the year 2000 approached.  Many promised it would indeed be the end of the world.

How do you and I prepare for the end times?  How do we focus our searching on what really matters?  Let's return to the themes in today's 1st reading and Gospel.  God sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh to warn them that their sinful way of life would lead to destruction.  40 days and Nineveh will be no more.  The people of Nineveh searched their hearts and turned around, they repented and believed.  Scripture tells us that God spared Nineveh.  Here is a simple yet profound reminder for us.  For we live in a sinful world with sinful ways, some sins upheld now by the laws of our governments.  We are being asked to repent like the people of Nineveh.  Turn away from sin, believe in the Gospel, search diligently to follow the Son, S-O-N!  In the Gospel, from Mark, the call of the first four Apostles, Simon(Peter), Andrew, James & John.  They too must have been searching for the Son, S-O-N, because we know they all had jobs, fisherman, and families, and a way of life but once called by the Son, they followed Him, and followed Him immediately.  They dropped what they were doing, laid down their way of life, and left home and family to follow Jesus.  They responded to the invitation to be fisher's of men.  You and I are called to follow Jesus, totally and completely.  No, most of us will not be called to leave our homes and families, yet some of us will be.  How will we respond?  Will our search for happiness in this world, a day relaxing in the sun, S-U-N be replaced by a life searching for eternal happiness with the Son, S-O-N.

In the week ahead, we can pray three times with today's readings; all three of them?  Can we see ourselves in the place of Jonah and proclaim to one person we know, repent and believe.  Turn to the Son, S-O-N?  Can we see ourselves in the place of the four Apostles and ask ourselves, will I follow Jesus completely?   Is there one ministry here at MHT or in the community that I can join as a witness to follow Jesus?  Do I search for the sun, S-U-N or the Son, S-O-N.  And finally, can we see ourselves in the person of Paul who tried to live his life, and help others live their lives, as if the end times were near?  This will take effort.  I ask that we make a commitment here today, that before we leave this Mass, these readings will be a part of our week ahead, making time for this spiritual exercise no matter how hard we work, how much school assignments we have, no matter what life brings us.

As Del Shannon sang to us some 50 years ago, we all have to keep searching; we have to follow the Son; S-O-N!

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