11/04/2018 - "A LOOK BACK"
A LOOK BACK
Over the past two months, Deacon Charlie, Fr. Peter, and I have been revisiting the themes of our homily series, “the love of Christ urges us on!” I spoke about the importance of starting our day with Morning Prayer and the sacrament of holy matrimony; Deacon Charlie spoke to us about the sacraments and reconciliation in particular; and Fr. Peter preached boldly and joyfully about God’s call on our life to love one another with a humble and generous heart. We did this for the very same reason we embarked on our homily series in the first place: so that all you experience in our Father’s House on the weekend, your encounter with Jesus, your experience of His power and goodness might transform how you live your life Monday through Saturday.
IMMERSED IN SCRIPTURE
Now, one of the greatest gifts that our Father has given to bring about this transformation of how we live our daily lives and for whom we live our daily lives is His Most Holy Word, the Bible!
During our preaching on “Immersed in Scripture” you’ll recall that Deacon, Fr. Peter and myself gave you all kinds of simple advice about decisions you could make to immerse your lives in God’s Holy Word! The first was to find your Bible, dust it off, and put it in a place of prominence where you’ll be inspired to read it daily. We next encouraged you to spend at least 15 minutes a day prayerfully reading God’s Word. It was suggested to begin with the Gospel of St. John so that you could accustom yourself to listening to your Father speak to you about His Son, all that Jesus did for you, who you are, and what He asks of you.
IS IT EVEN NECESSARY TO READ THE BIBLE?
Let’s now turn to Holy Mother Church to ask the question: is it really necessary for ordinary Christians to read the Bible? Is it optional? Something reserved for a select few? We turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church to find an answer to our question. Here’s what Mother Church says about the prayerful reading of Scripture:
Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ.
Not only is the prayerful reading of Scripture necessary for all Christians, there are three amazing benefits: we experience our faith in Jesus deepening, our heart being prompted to turn to Jesus and be converted, and our will to follow Christ is strengthened.
YOUR FAITH IS ENLIVENED AND GIVES LIFE
As you prayerfully read the Gospels, you become more and more aware of who Jesus is. You notice how much He loves His people and loves to spend time with them. His desire to teach us on a daily basis. You see how Jesus is never indifferent to our hurt or suffering. He dries our tears, heals our wounds, and breaks our chains. As you follow Jesus’ life, you become aware of how He wants to break into your daily life in the very same way, and this experience deepens your convictions of faith: Yes! Jesus is alive! He is our Mighty Savior! He wants to lead us through life’s journey to our Father’s Table in His Kingdom!
OUR HEART IS PROMPTED TO TURN TO JESUS
Another benefit of reading the Bible everyday has to do with the purification of our minds and hearts. Some of us spend way too much time with the television, or internet, or social media, and video games. This fills our hearts and minds with the spirit of this world. This leads us to forget about our Lord and turn our backs to Him and turn more to the world. Our daily contact with God’s Word prompts our heart to turn to Jesus, and turn our backs to all that robs us of our freedom and dignity as God’s sons and daughters. If you are experiencing a period in your life where anger, sadness, impatience, greed, or lust has wrapped you in chains, well, the daily reading of God’s Word will fill you with a great confidence that Jesus can and will break those chains! Through His Word, you will hear Jesus calling you to turn your backs to the darkness and to draw closer to Him.
OUR FATHER EMPOWERS YOU TO FOLLOW HIS SON
Daily contact with the Bible helps us to have a better understanding of what our life is all about and what our Lord asks of us. He asks us to lovingly and trustingly follow His Son in all moment’s everyday of our lives. It is not enough for you to check in on Sunday. If you are living your life for yourself Monday through Saturday, doing your own thing, well, it’s not enough to throw the Lord some crumbs by giving Him an hour on Sunday! God’s Word inspires you to welcome Jesus to the everyday moments of your daily life. As you recognize His presence and love, you are inspired to follow Jesus. God’s Word strengthens our will to follow Jesus in all the moments and relationships of our daily life.
A LOOK FORWARD
Over the next three weekends, our Archbishop is leading all Catholics of Southeast Michigan to become more aware of the transformation that our Lord desires to bring about in all Catholic Parishes, Schools, and Institutions. It is a call to transition from being an inward, maintenance focused parish to an outward, missionary focused parish. Our archbishop wants us to join with him in unleashing the Gospel in Southeast Michigan. Last Sunday’s Gospel about our Lord healing the blindness of Bartimaeus offers us an image of what our parish will become if we follow our archbishop’s lead. In that Gospel story, Jesus is walking through the streets on his way to another village. He is surrounded by a group of disciples and a large crowd. As Jesus is leaving the village, there is still one person who is hurting, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. When Bartimaeus hears that it is Jesus of Nazareth walking by, he begins to cry out with amazing faith: Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! The crowd responds by telling him to be quiet. They even go so far to rebuke him. Jesus always has time for us and is never indifferent to our suffering. Jesus bids Bartimaeus to come to Him.
LET’S UNLEASH THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL!
Now, let’s imagine as more and more of us immerse our daily lives in Scripture, the transformation that the Lord will bring about in us. As we experience our faith in Jesus growing and becoming more and more alive on a daily basis, as we experience the Holy Spirit moving our heart to turn to Jesus and trust Him more and more, and as we experience our commitment to follow Jesus in all the moments of our day being strengthened, just imagine what will happen when we encounter people in our community who are hurting and crying out. We will not remain silent before the suffering of others. We will cry out to Jesus ourselves: Lord, this person so needs you! And our hearts will be moved to tell that person about Jesus and bring that person to Jesus! Then, we will truly witness the Gospel being unleashed! GOD WANTS WARREN BACK . . . AND HE IS CALLING YOU TO HELP HIM!
Fill our hearts with faith, dear Jesus, especially when life is challenging and trust comes hard. Remember to keep each other in prayer.