Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 15/16, 2012

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

Readings

Our first reading for today should be very familiar.  It’s part of a long section from the prophet Isaiah that includes what scripture scholars refer to as the “four servant songs.”  Beginning in Chapter 40 and going through Chapter 53 of “second Isaiah” or “deutero Isaiah,” these poetic passages introduce the Servant of Yahweh in what we as post-resurrection Christians see as prophecies about the Messiah.  The sacred author describes this Servant:

  • First, as Chosen – “My chosen one in whom my soul delights.”
  • Second, as Missioned – “I will make you a light to the nations.”
  • Fourth, as Suffering – “He was oppressed and afflicted; … like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.”

It’s from the third of such poetic songs that we hear today, as the Servant of God is described as steadfast and obedient. Even when faced with the violence and cruelty of rejection, God’s Servant has set his face “like flint,” trusting in the presence and promise of God, believing that whatever may befall him, God is there.

That’s the backdrop by which we must hear the words of Mark in today’s Gospel. Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” It’s a prelude to the real question that the disciples must answer – and one that we must answer as well:  Jesus wants to know, “Who do you say that I am?” This is a question not of Identity, but of Being.  Jesus wants to know if they have yet grasped who HE IS?

And while Jesus must surely have been pleased with Peter’s quick declaration, “You are the Christ – the anointed one – the Messiah,” we know that Peter the Rock quickly becomes Peter the stumbling block.  In not wanting to accept the fact that Jesus’ Messiah-ship is different than what he (Peter) thinks it should be, Peter in that all-too-human, cocky, “just like a guy” kind of way, stops being a disciple, a learner, a follower … and figuratively jumps out in front of Jesus.  Peter at least did have the good sense to rebuke Jesus in private – and you can almost see the two off to the side with Peter saying some version of, “Hey, look Boss, you’re supposed to be the Messiah, not some common criminal who is going to suffer and get rejected and get killed. Where’s the victory in that? Where’s the Kingdom in that? You’re sounding not like a winner, but like the worst possible loser.  C’mon, get with the program!”

But Jesus will have none of it.  Then, Jesus does an interesting thing.  He “turns around” and looks at his disciples, and then he rebukes Peter.  It’s almost as if both by his actions and his words, Jesus teaches Peter the lesson he needs to learn.  Jesus rebukes Peter, calling him “Satan” and telling him to “get behind me.” In doing so, Jesus is telling Peter that he has forgotten who is the leader and who is the disciple.  What Jesus is saying is that ‘on this, my journey of doing the will of the Father – a journey that leads ultimately to rejection and pain and suffering and even death – you as my disciple belong behind me, not in front of me. I am leading the way, because I am doing the will of my Abba/Father. ’

And then, Jesus speaks in a way that certainly must have been confusing to those disciples and the crowd that heard him – as it’s certainly something confusing to us.  The Christian scriptures and the teachings of Jesus are often filled with paradox.  Paradox is the sort of statement that seems contradictory; it’s the type of statement or declaration that makes no sense to our rational, logical, Western way of thinking – to what many spiritual guides calls the dualistic mind.  If the way we experience life and the world and others and reality is dualistic – namely, always in terms of right and wrong, good and bad, yes and no, in and out, included and excluded, black and white … or, for that matter … Democrat and Republican, male and female, American and foreigner, rich and poor, gay and straight, young and old… the list could go on and on! … if we experience the world only on this way, then we will never fully understand and grasp the many paradoxes of Christian faith.  In this instance, Jesus proclaims what is perhaps the ultimate paradox of Christianity – life means death, and death is life. “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

Earlier this week I was listening to an audio book by a psychotherapist who has worked in the gay community for a long time.  He made a comment almost in passing that struck me.  He said that we as gay people – especially gay men and women of a certain age, though I suspect it’s true of many of us regardless of age – sometimes have difficulty accessing our feelings, sometimes have difficulty being fully aware of our emotional self.  And, he pointed out, when we do have access to that side of ourselves and are “in touch with our emotions,” the feeling that very many of us have the easiest access to is our anger.  The therapist was making this point in the context of gay men and their relationships, having grown up largely in a society and culture that was, more likely than not, unwelcoming. Having to hide who we are for much of our lives, being taught by the dominant culture that we are some sort of abominable aberration, and having the experience of being rejected in so many direct and indirect ways – it’s no wonder that many of us have such anger.  As I heard that, what struck me was not only the probable truth of his observation, but also how equally true it probably is for us as Gay Catholics in our religious context of “the Church.” Perhaps I’m just speaking for myself and engaging in a little projection, but I know that I have anger – dare I say, a “righteous anger?” – toward the institution I love so dearly called Church.  I suspect I’m not alone in saying that.

Whether we can see that in ourselves or not, each of us is challenged by the Gospel of Jesus to follow him even when and perhaps especially when we experience anger, when we feel hurt, when we know pain, and when we are rejected.  In those situations our first tendency is to be not like Jesus or the Servant of God, but rather like Peter, isn’t it?  Our inclination is to put up our defenses, saying this isn’t how it’s supposed to be, and change the game plan to what we want. Now … don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that situations that give rise to anger and hurt and pain and rejection are necessarily part of God’s plan and that we should simply be passive and docile in the face of what may truly be situations of injustice or even evil.  What I AM saying is that the mind and heart we must bring to those situations – and really to every person and every situation in life – is the mind of Jesus, the heart of the one sought always to know and do the will of God.  After all, doesn’t the passage from the Letter of James remind us that action is essential to a life of faith … that claims of faithfulness are empty and meaningless if we don’t put that faith into concrete practice that make better the lives of others in need? Let our prayer this day and every day be that we do, indeed, have what it takes to be faithful disciples of Jesus, following him wherever the Spirit of God may lead us.

(c) Copyright 2012 – Timothy J MacGeorge

Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption – 1987

I wrote this homily twenty-five years ago, just a couple of months after being ordained.  I share it now because I think the message — simple as it is — is relevant today as it was then.

SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION – St. Anne’s Parish, Littleton, MA

August 15, 1987

Today we celebrate the feast of Mary’s Assumption — a day on which we affirm that Mary, as the earthly mother of the Divine Son of God, now lives body and soul and the fullness of her person in the presence of God.  But even as we affirm the truth of Mary’s existence in heaven, if we are truly to celebrate this feast, we need, in a sense, to bring Mary a bit more down to earth.  I say this because on such an occasion the tendency seems to be to see Mary only as the Queen of angels and saints now reigning gloriously in heaven.  And while she may be all this and more, to see only this aspect of her is to rob her of the power to speak to each and every one of us in this church today, to speak to us as a model of faith and obedience to the will of God.

In the Gospel of Luke, we find Mary’s beautiful song of praise — the Magnificat — and in that passage we hear Mary describe herself not as a Queen but as a lowly servant — in the original language, ”anawim,” one of the little poor ones, one of the powerless on the lower rungs of society’s ladder.  She was on earth without privilege or rank, yet God chose her to bring His only Son into the world.

“Well,” we may say, “that in itself is certainly greater than any earthly glory” — and while this is true, we do well to remember that Mary’s saying “Yes” to God’s will for her did not bring her a life of joy.  For she endured society’s scorn for being an unmarried woman with child, thus allowing herself to be placed at the risk of being ostracized from the society in which she lived.  And then, she lived to see this son grow up to be rejected, arrested, and executed as a common criminal or a slave would be on a cross.

She knew the pain of a parent losing a child.  Surely her faith was challenged to the core, yet indeed she did keep faith.  She continued to believe in spite of all that she saw and experienced.  For she trusted that God would somehow make things right, that her son’s sufferings and her own in turn were not in vain.  Mary was not blessed with foreknowledge or superhuman powers.  Like the other disciples, she too had to suffer and endure until she saw God’s promise fulfilled in her son’s resurrection.  Thus, for her obedient “yes” to God’s will, for her persevering in faith in spite of the cost to her personally, in spite of her own sorrow and suffering — it is for these reasons that we celebrate Mary today.  For on earth, she was one of us, and as such she is a model for us so that we too can follow her lead, we too can say “yes” to God’s will for our lives; we too can persevere in faith in spite of what sufferings come our way in this life, and although the Assumption we reserve for Mary, we too can trust that if we keep faith, we shall one day live as Mary does now, body and soul in the presence of God.  For as we are now, so once was Mary — as she is now, so we hope to be.  This is truly cause to celebrate the feast of her assumption.

In Response to Hate: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 28/29, 2012 (Readings)

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

No doubt the biggest news items you’ve heard over the past week or so include:

  • Coverage of the horrific violence that happened last weekend in Colorado when a heavily armed man – who is probably mentally ill – shot up a movie theater, killing and injuring so many; or
  • The build up to and the non-stop coverage of the Olympic Games that are getting underway in London; or
  • Local coverage of the 19th International AIDS Conference that was finally able to be held here in the US; and
  • Of course, the coverage of this year’s campaign as President Obama and Governor Romney continue to slug it out for the keys to the White House.

What you might not have heard, however, are these stories about…

  • The man in Oklahoma City who sustained 2nd degree burns after his car was vandalized and fire-bombed; or
  • The 17-year old young woman in Louisville, Kentucky who was attacked by a group of adults as she walked home from a convenience store with two younger boys, who are neighborhood friends; or – and most troubling of all,
  • The 33-year old woman in Lincoln, Nebraska whose home was set on fire after 3 masked men broke in during the night and mutilated her skin, carving slurs that justified the classification of this horrific act as a Hate Crime.

The common thread between these last three is that all three victims are gay.  All three were known to be gay or lesbian and were simply going about living – just like you and I do every day – their daily, fairly mundane lives.  Suddenly, out of the blue and without warning, a violence borne of hate tore their lives apart in ways they will never forget and in ways that will leave lasting scars – both literally and figuratively.

Today’s Gospel reading is the first 15 verses of the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John.  Over the next several weeks – in fact for the entire month of August – we will hear practically the entire rest of this chapter and its more than 70 verses.  For the most part, this section of John’s Gospel is referred to as the “Bread of Life Discourse,” and it starts off with this passage we just listened to, the miracle story of the multiplication of five barley loaves and a few fish so very familiar to us all.  As we move through the following weeks and hear Jesus explain in various ways that the Bread of Life, the Bread from Heaven, is indeed his very Body and Blood, the final Gospel reading of August will conclude with these words:

“’The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe’….  As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

To be a follower of Jesus is not easy – it never has been and never will be. If we doubt that, we simply need to hear again that even among those who knew Jesus in the flesh, even among those who saw him with their own eyes and who heard him with their own ears – even among these some came to a place where following him was too difficult, where being his disciple was too demanding, and so they turned around, they went back to a “former way of life” and could not find it in their minds or their hearts to continue accompanying him, allowing their lives to be transformed by the Gospel of Love and of Peace that he preached.

What I’d like to draw our attention, to, however, is not the theological and spiritual significance of these very important Gospel passages.  These Scriptures are indeed quite formative for us as Catholic Christians, and especially for our understanding of sacramentality and our unshakeable belief in what we call the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine of Eucharist.

No, what I’d like to draw our attention to is the second reading from Ephesians – especially in view of those news stories I mentioned.  Scripture scholars tell us this letter was written probably not by Paul himself, but by a disciple of Paul. As a whole, the overall theme of the Letter to the Ephesians speaks to the Unity that should exist among the followers of Jesus. As the letter states, we are called to preserve unity in the Spirit through the bond of Peace.  The author challenges us not simply to believe something, but actually to live our lives marked by virtues that characterize Christian behavior. The three virtues named here are humility, gentleness, and patience.  By embracing these and living these, we will then be united in the Spirit through that bond of Peace.

That’s all well and good for us who believe the same things, who see the world through similar eyes, and who place our faith in the same God Whom we believe is indeed “over all and in all and through all.”  But what about those who may not only believe differently than we do, but who even hate or despise us for whatever reason?  How do we respond to those who speak words of hate to us or to any one else who is “other” simply because of who they are? What do we when face to face with those who who teach their children to hate, and who say that it’s OK to do violence – which is the offspring of hate – towards those who are different? What do we do when words which sew the seeds of hate sometimes come from those in our midst most called to preach the Gospel and its fundamental assertion that we are all the beloved sons and daughters of God? And … when we see what others can do to our LGBT brothers and sisters, how is it possible to be humble, gentle, and patient in the face of that!? And of course, perhaps the most difficult question of all is, where might there be hatred in our own lives and hearts, and how do we respond when the forces of this world tug at us incessantly, trying to pull us back to a “former way of life”?

I ask these questions not because I have any answers, but simply to remind us that the world in which we live and the Peace that God alone gives will shine forth only when we who claim to be Jesus’ disciples live our lives each day with greater humility, gentleness, and patience.  Even for those who would do us harm, is not this our call as disciples? Let us pray that even in the face of the most horrific acts of violence as well as the daily acts of unkindness we may encounter, we may always respond to one another and to all with humility, gentleness and patience.

Homily for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

June 10, 2012

Today we celebrate a feast that has been a part of the Church’s liturgical calendar since the thirteenth century.  In English we call it the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, but it’s also commonly known by the abbreviated version of its Latin name, Corpus Christi.  Although I’ve never actually participated in it, one of the special ways in which this feast can be celebrated is to have a public Corpus Christi Procession.  While the liturgical norms provide great detail on how to conduct such a procession, it essentially is quite simple.  After Mass, the gathered community is lead through the streets of their city or town by the celebrant of the Mass.  He carries the Eucharist, which in turn is held under a canopy of some sort – a sign of respect for our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

I couldn’t help but think of that image yesterday as a group of us – over 40 members of this community – joined with many hundreds of others in marching in yesterday’s Capital Pride Parade.  Thanks to the artistic skills of Larry Ranly, we had our own version of such a Corpus Christi canopy.  Constructed in the shape of a chapel, our lightweight canopy was draped in the colors of the rainbow, and it was carried by six of us as we walked the parade route behind a banner indicating that we were the Dignity/Washington contingent.

Even as I thought of that image in relationship to today’s Feast, I couldn’t also help but think of what this feast – the feast of Corpus Christi – means for me personally.  For the past quarter of a century, it has been a very special day. Although it’s been quite a few years since I was in active parish ministry, it was on this weekend twenty-five years ago that I was ordained a priest. And so it was on this feast day that I had the great joy of presiding at the Eucharist as a priest for the very first time.

In the diocese where I was ordained, the tradition is that a newly ordained priest would often invite someone else – perhaps a close friend, maybe a classmate from another diocese, or someone who had been influential in one’s years of seminary study – to give the homily.  And so it was that I asked my good friend Gerry – ordained several years ahead of me and who, sadly, has since passed away – to give the homily at my first Mass. In that homily, Gerry talked about the room on Mount Zion in Jerusalem that has been venerated as the site the “Upper Room” since the 4th century.  In that room, there is a carving at the top of a stone pillar.  It’s a carving of a mother pelican feeding here young with her own flesh and blood – a symbol of Jesus who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, who gave us the gift his very self on the cross, a gift which we remember and receive again and again every time we share in Eucharist.

It you either marched in or were present for yesterday’s Parade, you know what a wonderful spirit was there – a spirit of celebration blessed by the beautify of a warm June day, but also marked by a sense of a changed or changing landscape for the LGBT community in the U.S.  When we look at past Gay Pride events – events which have become the “High Holy Days” for the gay community around the globe – one cannot fail to recognize how different things are for us in 2012 than they were say, in 1987 when I was ordained … and maybe even before some of you were even born!  So much has changed, in fact, that I’ve heard a number of people say over the past year or so that the struggle for gay rights and for the full inclusion of LGBT people in civil society here in the US is just a matter of time.  I think perhaps the general consensus is that, although there are goals yet to achieve, it really is just a matter of time before the barriers toward such full inclusion in civil society are greatly diminished or eliminated.  Indeed, I think there is strong evidence to support this perspective.

If that is true – and I hope and pray it is – I think it presents to us as LGBT Catholics an important time for reflection.  At the heart of this is the fact that what can be said about civil society, the broader culture, and even many other branches of the Christian family tree … those things unfortunately cannot yet be said about our Catholic community. While there are many positive indications about where we as LGBT Catholics are today when compared with two decades ago … it is not quite so clear that the tide has turned, or that full inclusion of LGBT Catholics into the life of the Church at all levels is in any way imminent.  If it is indeed, just a matter of time for such inclusion to come about, I daresay we’re probably talking in terms of decades and even longer, rather than months and years.

So if that is true, then what does this mean for us as a community of LGBT Catholics? Where do we want to be in 5, 10, or 25 years in terms of our relationship with the broader Catholic community … and how do we get there? What does this mean for how we will move forward in ensuring that popes and bishops and other leaders of our Church – as well as those of our lay brothers and sisters who still accept what the media call the church’s “official teaching” regarding human sexuality and the rejection of God’s image and likeness reflected in people like you and me – what does this mean for how we ensure that they understand that we, too, are members of the one Body of Christ?  How do we share with our fellow Catholics at all levels of the church’s structure the truths of our own lives? How do we help them to understand that the there is indeed room under that Corpus Christi canopy for ALL members of Christ’s Body? How do we do all this and still remain faithful to our call to live our Christian faith in the context and tradition of Catholicism?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but if we are to take seriously the fact that through our Baptism we have been made part of that One Body of Christ, then I think we at least need to think about this unique moment in time, recognizing who we are, where we are, and being thoughtful about where we are heading. While I don’t know all the answers, I have no doubt that sacrifice will be involved. Just as that mother pelican gave her life for her young, and as Jesus gave up his very self so that we might have access to the fullness of life,  we too must be prepared to give up and let go of what is non-essential, so that our voices may be unified and the core truth of our message will be not only heard, bur received.

As you’ve heard before and I’m sure will hear again … this year marks a very special anniversary.  It’s the 50th year since the Second Vatican Council began its work in Rome in 1962. If you’re not familiar with that Council’s 16 Constitutions, Declarations and Decrees, maybe you should pick up a copy and add it to your summer beach reading list!  There is in those documents great richness for today that goes beyond what is sometimes minimizes the Council’s work by referring to the “spirit of Vatican II, ” as the documents themselves paint a picture of a Church very different than what some current leaders would have us see.  In the Dogmatic Constition on the Church, Lumen Gentium (#12), the Council Fathers wrote:

“The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.”

I don’t know how you could be more clear in declaring that every member of the Body of Christ has a role to play and a voice to speak in discerning matters of faith.  As we claim our rightful place within the Body of Christ – as we become more fully what we receive in Eucharist – our task as faithful members of Christ’s one Body – is to discern rightly and to live out that discernment in faith and in hope and in dignity.

Happy Pride!

“Show me your wounds” – Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter

April 14/15, 2012

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

Readings

You may not remember where you were last year on this, the “Second Sunday of Easter,” and you may not know where you’ll be next year, but it just so happens that if you did or will miss Church on either of those days … not to worry! Because even though we have a 3-year cycle of Sunday Readings for our Liturgy, this Gospel from the 20th chapter of John is heard every year on this day. And no matter what we may think of some things when it comes to the institutional Church, there is usually great wisdom behind the selection of scripture readings that we have for our Liturgies. Even though the other two readings in our A, B and C cycles do change from year to year, this gospel story — about Jesus’s arrival in the locked room, John’s version of Pentecost, and the story of Thomas, the doubting “twin” — this story is heard in all three cycles. Because of this, I think it’s worth our special attention to look at this story very closely and see why it’s so central to the Easter message and what it means for us in our lives today.

Each of the elements of this passage from John is worthy of our full attention. You will remember that – of the four Gospels – the Gospel of John stands apart. The other three are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels, because they share many of the same stories, they are organized somewhat similarly, and probably drew upon some of the same oral traditions and sources. They were also written before the Gospel of John, which is sometimes called “the Last Gospel” because it was written later.

We could no doubt spend time reflecting on these “Resurrection Appearances” – on how the disciples are full of fear and therefore have locked themselves inside, separated from the outside world. Despite the locked doors, Jesus appears to them and he offers them the gift of Peace.

Likewise we could reflect on John’s description of how Jesus further strengthens these scared disciples by offering not only the gift of peace, but also by bestowing on them the gift of the Spirit. It is through this gift that the ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation springs forth, and it is through the Spirit the scared disciples will again – in time – not be afraid and will follow in the footsteps of Jesus more closely.

It is, however, this encounter with Thomas that I’d like us to focus on for just a bit. From a purely story-telling perspective, one wonders why Thomas wasn’t with the disciples on that first day. We might wonder, “Where was he and what was he doing?” Curious as those questions are, we should be careful not to get bogged down in them. If we do, we run the risk of missing the point of his initial absence. Because remember – what we are reading is not history or some journalistic re-telling of events that took place. No, what we are reading is Gospel. And Gospel is Good News. The author of John’s Gospel wants to emphasize the Good News that Jesus is indeed risen from the dead. The Johannine author wants to use a story about doubt to dispel whatever doubts may exist about the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the Crucified One.

And so we have Thomas demanding to see and experience for himself proof that Jesus is alive. This demand sets the stage for a second appearance – Jesus coming again into that same locked room, and offering again that same gift of Peace. Although John doesn’t say whether Thomas actually does put his finger into the nail marks and his hand into Jesus’ side, it is quite clear that any remaining doubt has been dispelled and Thomas now fully believes that Jesus was and is the Son of God.

Of course, none of us knows what the experience will be like when – God willing – at the end our lives we meet the Lord face to face. But earlier this week I read a possible vision of what that encounter might be like. The author suggested that when we do finally meet Jesus, He won’t question us about how well we carried out our religious obligations. He won’t be interested in whether we followed all the rules and regulations of religious practice; he won’t be interested in so much of the minutiae of life that we too often mistake for what is important. And, despite what many religious leaders and politicians seem to think, he probably won’t even be interested in our sex lives.

On the contrary, the author suggested that our heavenly encounter with Jesus will not be unlike Jesus’ encounter with Thomas. However, the table will be turned. Jesus will ask us to do for him what he did for Thomas. He will ask us to show him our wounds, the wounds that we have received as his faithful disciples, wounds that are the signs we’ve spent our lives imitating him. The wounds we have are not the wounds of soldiers or warriors or those who have engaged in battle; they are not the wounds of those who meet sword with sword, violence with violence. No, the wounds of discipleship come from living as Jesus lived, and most especially loving as Jesus loved.

For us as a community of LGBT people who seek to be such disciples, I often think that one of the core experiences of our communal lives to which all of us can relate is the experience of rejection. This experience, I think, is at the very heart of our call to discipleship. In the liturgy of last Friday we vividly recalled that Jesus, before he died, experienced the pain of rejection, the loss of friendship, and abandonment by those he loved. He knew that very human experience of what it means to give and receive nothing in return, to love and not be loved. And yet through all this, he remained faithful. He did not give in to the temptation to stop giving, to stop loving, or to lash out in anger and vengeance; nor did he give in to that ultimate temptation of thinking he had been abandoned by God. Is not this how we too should respond whenever we experience – as individuals and a community of disciples – that same rejection and abandonment? Many if not most of us bear the wounds of rejection – rejection that comes from family, from society, from the institutional Church, and sometimes even from one another. And yet, if we are able to find deep within our hearts the ability to respond to that rejection with compassion and generosity and love, then those wounds not only are healed, but they also bear witness to our faithfulness in the One who first and always has compassion, generosity and love for us.

Thomas’ doubts were dispelled by the privilege of physically seeing Jesus in Resurrection. As a people who have shared in the death of Christ through Baptism, who have received the Breath of the Spirit in Confirmation, and who are nourished by his living presence in Eucharist, we also have come to believe. We believe that we are the beloved daughters and sons of God; and we believe that for us and for all people, Jesus has overcome the pain of rejection and won victory of death for all time. And although we haven’t seen Jesus in the same way as Thomas and the other disciples did, our faith does indeed give us “eyes to see” the living presence of Jesus who is here, now, in our midst – and if you doubt that, just look around!

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent (Cycle B)

March 24/25, 2012

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

Readings

Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed March 24, 1980 by armed gunmen as Romero celebrated Mass in a small hospital chapel.

Yesterday (March 24) marked the thirty-second anniversary of the killing of Oscar Romero.  If that name is not familiar to you, Oscar Romero was the archbishop of San Salvador who was murdered – martyred would probably be more accurate – at the beginning of his country’s civil war back in 1980. I mention Archbishop Romero because, as you know, this year we as presiders and preachers have been asked to invite reflection on faith, particularly on how our connection with this Christian community of Dignity has helped to form and fashion our faith as baptized believers.  One of the gifts that has been a blessing for my own participation in Dignity is that it has prompted me to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Jesus, knowing as fully as I can who I am as God created me to be.

Life is never lived “in general.” It’s always experienced and lived in the concrete, in the specific context of time and place.  Just as Archbishop Romero responded to the call to live his faith in the times and the world in which he lived, each of us is called to live our faith in the time and world and worlds in which we live.  And so my own reflection on what it means to be a follower of Jesus – as well as what it means to be a gay man who chooses to remain Catholic even when so many of our LGBT brothers and sisters make other choices – is intimately connected to the worlds of society, family, friends, work, politics, culture and church in which I live.

All of that – along with the fact that we have been observing this season of Lent – is to say that lately I’ve been thinking a lot about catechesis.  Strictly speaking, catechesis is the formal instruction of Catechumens – namely those who wish to become Christian, who wish to enter the Church, and who therefore go through an extended period of formation of mind and heart before freely saying “yes” to Jesus and choosing to enter the Christian Community through the Easter Sacraments. Before they die to self and rise to new life in the saving waters of Baptism, and before they are anointed by the Spirit in Confirmation, and before they share in the Mystery of the Cross which is Eucharist, Catechumens take time – typically many months and sometimes years – to get to know our story, the story of Jesus, the story of Christianity, the story of the Church, the story the Gospel, the story of discipleship.  They learn, they read, they observe, the serve, they participate as they are able, they pray.  It’s not unlike the extended time of dating and courtship, when two people who may one day make a life-long commitment to each other lay the foundation for that eventual “yes” they will speak to one another in marriage.

But beyond the formal preparation for the Easter Sacraments that Catechumens and the Elect go through, we who are already baptized also have a responsibility to continue traveling our individual and communal journeys of faith every day. We have a responsibility to continue our own catechetical formation through prayer, reflection, study, worship, and especially through the choices we make every day about how we live our lives.  We do this not only for ourselves, but also for others.  Today’s Gospel reading from John tells us that some “Greeks” came to Philip and asked to see Jesus.  Although they might not be as explicit, isn’t it true that we sometimes encounter people asking “to see Jesus”?  Oh, they may not do so in those exact words, but perhaps you’ve had the experience – as have I – of encountering people who are very intrigued by my assertions that “yes, I am a believing Christian, a practicing Catholic” and “yes, I am also gay.”  Now, this intrigue can come from multiple directions.  It can come from non-Catholics or non-Christians whose understanding of Catholic Christianity is either non-existent or very poor.  It can also come from our fellow Catholics whose own growth in faith may have stopped at some point many years ago.

View of the Valley from the top of White Face Mountain, New YOrk

Today, parishes that are preparing to welcome new Christians at Easter are celebrating what is called the Third Scrutiny, one of the rituals of the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The RCIA is a reminder to the Church – to all of us – that being a Christian is neither solitary nor easy.  It is neither solitary nor easy because following in the footsteps of Jesus is neither solitary nor easy. As disciples, we are asked to allow our hearts of stone to be turned into hearts of flesh.  As disciples we are called to allow the law of God to be written in those hearts of flesh so that we may know and follow God more closely.  As disciples, we are challenged to allow our lives to be purged of sin and to let go of whatever gets in our way of knowing God more fully.  As we hear today in the Gospel of John, even Jesus recognizes that following God’s will is not easy; for he himself readily admits that he is “troubled.” He is troubled because he knows that “his hour” has come and that the path before him will lead to death.

In his book, Why I Am Still a Christian, theologian Hans Küng reminds us that as Christians, as followers of the Crucified One, we always share in the struggles of all human kind. This sharing is indeed the fundamental call and mission of the Church, the People of God.  It is through the sharing in the struggles of others, that we join the hour of our lives to Jesus’ hour.  This understanding of Christianity – our understanding of Christianity – is very different from the one you might hear if you listen to fundamentalist preachers hosting political candidates, or to sports and other public figures who use their narrow view of Scripture to oppose laws that seek to reduce such things as bullying, hatred, and violence.

But as Küng says, the Church’s struggle is

“a struggle to ensure respect for human dignity against all animosity, even to the point of love for one’s enemies; a struggle for freedom against all oppression, even to the point of selfless service; a struggle for justice against all injustice, even to the point of voluntarily surrendering one’s rights; a struggle against all selfishness, even to the point of giving up the things we own; a struggle for peace against all strife, even to the point of infinite reconciliation.”

Having aligned so well his own life with the Gospel message, Oscar Romero’s hour came in a way not unlike that of Jesus. As he stood celebrating Mass in a small hospital chapel, Romero became the Sacrifice he offered, gunned down by powerful forces in his country which were threatened by his calls for justice, his advocacy on behalf of the poor, and his work challenging the status quo of power, wealth, and the ways in which the goods of this earth are shared by all God’s children.  Poverty, injustice, discrimination, hatred, violence, war – sadly they are still with us and with us in abundance.  As we enter these final days of Lent, let us pray – as Jeremiah says – that God indeed will remember no more the evil we have done, and that we will have the faith always and everywhere to follow Jesus – even to the point of death. In allowing ourselves to be drawn ever closer to Him, may the grains of wheat that are our lives bear fruit in abundance now and forever.

A God for All People – Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord – January 7/8, 2012

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

Readings

Today the Church invites us to continue reflecting on the Mystery of the Christmas message as we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany of the Lord.  The traditional day for this celebration is January 6, and in some cultures it’s commonly referred to as Little Christmas. The word “Epiphany” means a “manifestation” or a “showing forth” and it commemorates the visit to the infant Jesus by the “astrologers” from the east, the Magi of whom Matthew speaks in today’s gospel.  When we examine this passage along with the other Scriptures that are before us, we see that the theme and message of this feast is really very simple. Essentially, this day reminds us that the salvation which is to be bestowed on the House of Israel is not restricted to the House of Israel – that the gift of God’s very self is intended for all nations and all peoples.  I suppose the message can be summed up quite easily in that one line from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, which he describes as his “insight into the mystery of Christ.” Paul tells us “… that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

The dawn of a new day and a new year – sunrise at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, January 1, 2012.

“So what?” you might ask.  “What is so new about that? After all, our tradition for over two thousand years has acknowledged that the message of the Gospel is to be shared with all people.”   The answer for us today, I think, can be found when we really reflect on the question, “What does it mean to be ‘members of the same body’ and ‘copartners of the promise’?”

The people of Jesus’ day believed that God would one day save his people – and so they looked forward with hopeful expectation to the coming of the Messiah.  But for many the Messiah for whom they looked was not the apparently powerless infant of Bethlehem, but rather they awaited the coming of a powerful descendant of the House of David who would free his people from the oppression of foreign domination, bringing judgment and condemnation to those who were not of the Chosen People.

This feast we celebrate today reminds us that such a limited hope was misguided.  It reminds us that the great gift of God in the person of God’s Son is not given merely to a single person, a single family, a single town, a single culture, a single nation, a single religion, or a single Church.  No one – no priest or pope; no president, politician or presidential candidate; no bishop or pastor; no woman or man has a monopoly on that presence of God now Incarnate in the world.  Epiphany reminds us that all peoples are the intended recipients of God’s gift of self and all that flows from this connection with the Divine.  At is core, the message of the Lord’s Epiphany reminds us that the Gospel is characterized by inclusion, not exclusion; letting us not forget that there is more than enough room for all at the Lord’s Table and in God’s Kingdom.

Such a realization has great implications for those of us whom Paul refers to as “copartners,” or sharers, in the promise of the Gospel.  We believe that we do indeed share in the gift of God’s promise to Israel and that the blessings of new life in Christ are ours. But there are two dimensions to that sharing. We are not only sharers in that we have received this gift in the passive sense; but we are also called to be sharers in the more active sense, being called to share this great gift of faith and of life with one another.  We are called to share our gifts and our talents, to share all that we have and all that we are, to open the doors of our hearts and our lives to be a people who welcome and embrace others.

That’s not always an easy thing to do.  One thing that can help us live up to that call is to develop a keener sense of being able to see – as did the Magi – the presence of God Incarnate in our world.  Yes, it’s very, very easy to see situations in which God seems to be absent … but can we develop our senses of the soul so that we see and hear and touch the Divine so very present in the world all around us?

I don’t profess to be any better at this than anyone else, but here are just two examples from this past week in which I recognized God’s presence.   I was fortunate enough to get away for a couple days last weekend and see the beauty of the dawn on New Year’s Day as the sun rose over the horizon.  That sunrise – including time spent with a few special friends – was clearly painted by the hand of God, and for it I am very thankful.  More recently I think we need to recognize the presence of God as seen in the very public apology delivered by a Cardinal of the Church, something that doesn’t happen very often.  Chicago’s archbishop Cardinal Francis George publicly recognized the harm and hurt his words had done a week before in comparing the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan.  Just as I had been shocked by his initial comparison, I never expected that he would apologize has he has done. The cardinal said:

“I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused. Particularly because we all have friends or family members who are gay and lesbian. This has evidently wounded a good number of people. I have family members myself who are gay and lesbian, so it’s part of our lives. So I’m sorry for the hurt.”

May our prayer this Epiphany day be that we are a not only able to see and name God in our midst, but that we may also be more faithful copartners in the promise of the Gospel by sharing God’s love, hope, presence and peace with everyone we meet every day of our lives.

Walking from Darkness to Light

Homily for Christmas 2011
For an intentional Catholic intentional community in Bonita Springs, FL

When your pastor called and asked me to stand in for him at this very special celebration of the Christian year, I must admit I had a mixed internal response.  First, he called when I was taking a short “Tim time” vacation, and so his call caught me a little off guard.  On the one hand I was happy and pleased and willing to help, but I also thought, “who am I to preach to this group”? In Christian and most faith communities that have some sort of sermon or homily as part of their communal prayer, that sermon or homily is best when it speaks to the concrete circumstances of the community.  That was true throughout the Scriptures that we proclaim each week – both Hebrew and Christian. The Scriptures we read were written not for some generic audience unknown to the author, but on the contrary were intended for a very particular group of people in a very particular time and place and facing very particular circumstances. To underscore this, we simply need to look at the letters of St Paul, which are clearly addressed either to individuals or mostly to relatively small communities of people.  We all know how much we dislike getting “junk mail” or “spam” which is not addressed to us as individuals, or as part of a group we belong to.  And we especially dislike it because it’s certainly not from anyone who knows us, our hopes, our struggles, our successes, or our lives.

And so it was for this reason that I felt a little awkward knowing that my “yes” to that request would involve doing what I’m doing now … knowing full well that probably any one of you could probably deliver a more appropriate, more timely and more relevant reflection on this feast of Christmas than I could.  …. Any takers???

Earlier this week, your pastor called me again and asked what readings I’d like to use – Christmas being a bit unique in that we have four Masses and corresponding Scripture readings, though they are linked to the time of day that the feast is celebrated.  I looked at the readings for the Vigil Mass and the Mass at Night/Midnight, knowing full well that we’ve all probably heard ALL of the readings associated with Christmas more times than we care to remember.  We’ve all heard the long genealogy from Matthew, which goes to such great lengths to make sure we know Jesus is a descendant of David. We’ve heard the readings from the liturgy at dawn in which Luke’s angels proclaim to shepherds that a wonderful birth has taken place; and certainly we’ve all heard the beginning of John’s Gospel where we hear that poetic introduction, “In the beginning was the Word…” And so, as I looked at the options, I almost impulsively suggested that we use the ones we just heard, which are in fact the readings for the Mass at Midnight.

What struck me was the first line from that first reading:  “A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

Christmas fundamentally is the celebration of our unique Christian belief that God is present not simply in some spiritualized “out there” kind of way, but that God – in the person of Jesus of Nazareth – became present in human life and human history in the most intimate way possible … by becoming one of us. Christmas is the celebration of God’s presence in all aspects and absolutely every dimension of life:  Present in all of Creation, but most especially in each and every human person – young, old; black, white; male, female; gay, straight; rich, poor; documented, undocumented; Christian, Muslim, Jew; atheist, believer – whatever labels or categories or dichotomies we can think of, none of them diminish that belief.  And yes, despite rumors to the contrary, God is even present in a few bishops!

This was in the back of my mind when that read that opening line from the Prophet Isaiah, and I think it struck me for a couple of reasons.  “A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.First, we all know what it’s like to be in darkness. The countless darknesses and burdens of human life are too numerous to mention.  Collective and social darknesses such as war and violence and poverty and exclusion and discrimination – you know as well as I how much these burden our world.  More personally, I daresay each one of us could come up with a list of those darknesses in our own lives that hinder us from seeing that Presence of God which Christmas reminds us of.

But what jumped at me most of all was this:  Isaiah doesn’t say the people were stuck in the darkness, or that they languished in the darkness or that they became embittered in the darkness.  No … the prophet says they were walking in the darkness.  In some way that may seem counterintuitive, and maybe even a dangerous and treacherous, bringing, as it does, the possibility of stumbling and falling in the midst of darkness. But it especially challenges us in that no matter where we find ourselves – even in what might seem like the darkest of times – our task and our challenge is to keep moving.  No matter what darknesses may be around us today – in our own lives, our communities, our country, our world, our church – the important thing is that we keep walking, that we keep moving forward, that we continue to seek that Light which Isaiah also says is the source of abundant joy and rejoicing.

Let me end by sharing another scripture passage that speaks of darkness and light. While instilling great hope within us, may it also reminds us of the journey that lies ahead, leading us to the fullness of what this night assures us is already ours:  “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Merry Christmas, and may the peace of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Crucified Christ, be yours now and always!

The Advents of God: Past, Future, and Every Day In Between – Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

2nd Sunday of Advent – December 3/4, 2011

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

Readings

If I were to ask you to come up with a short list of words that characterize Advent for you, I suspect most of us would include the words “waiting” and “patience.” In fact, during his homily last weekend, something that our homilist said about patience really caught my attention and gave me pause. Perhaps you remember that our homilist asked the rhetorical question whether we, as gay Catholics, have something to teach the wider Church about the nature and value of patience, given the degree of patience that we and those who have gone before us have had to demonstrate as we wait for society and Church even still to recognize our full humanity and the wholeness and holiness of our sexuality.

And so as we think about patience and the value of waiting during this Advent season, a couple of questions come time mind. The first is … who is coming, for whom are we patiently waiting? And the second is … how will we know him when we see him?

Unlike Vladimir and Estragon, the characters in Samuel Becket’s existentialist play, “Waiting for Godot,” we are not waiting for someone who never shows up. Despite their being told that Godot will surely come tomorrow, we know that in this dramatic presentation from the Theater of the Absurd, Godot will not come tomorrow, nor any tomorrow thereafter. Of course, the fact that the title character never arrives suggests that he doesn’t even exist. For we who believe, however, just the opposite is true. We wait for God whom we know will come – and we know this precisely because God has already come. Probably more important than the fact that God has come in time in the past, and out belief that God will come again in the future … is our belief that God does come and is coming into our daily lives each and every day. That’s the fundamental message of the feast we are preparing to celebrate, isn’t it? The message of Christmas – without which there is no Christianity – is that God became incarnate, in time, in the very flesh and blood of humanity. Christmas also means that this Incarnation was not limited to one time, one place, one person. But it means that the Incarnation is for all time, all places, all persons.

Even if our faith is strong in answering the “Who” question, I wonder if the “how” question challenges us just a bit. Here’s what I mean. Our faith tells us that God came in the person of Jesus two thousand years ago; and it also tells us that God will come again in glory at the end of time. But what about now? What about these “in between times” before the First and Second Comings? Do we also believe that God is coming into our world and our lives right now? Do we have eyes to see the presence of God all around us, even at this very moment? Do we really believe that the Incarnation of the Divine in Jesus of Nazareth was precisely to remind us of the Incarnation of Divine in the flesh and blood lives of every woman, man and child on the face of the earth?

I put that question not only to the wider church and all who claim to be followers of Jesus; I put that question not only to all of you gathered here tonight; but I put that question also to myself … because if the answer is “yes,” If I say that yes, I do believe that God is present here and now in me, then what does that belief tell me about the way am – or should be – living my life? What does that say about the things I do or don’t do? … about the choices I make or don’t make? … about the love I give or fail to give others who are in my life?

St Teresa of Avila

St Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

One of the greatest mystics of our Catholic tradition was Teresa of Avila, the discalced Carmelite nun who, with little formal education or training, wrote deeply and profoundly about the marriage of the human and the divine. In her most developed book, Interior Castle, Teresa writes about the human soul describing it as a castle made of a single diamond; and within that castle are seven mansions that lead closer and closer to ultimate union with God. Teresa – writing for her sisters to help them on their own spiritual journeys of faith – answers my second question and tells us very clearly how we will know when God is present. Teresa reminded her sisters and reminds us across the centuries that even when we are engaged in what some might call “worldly” activities, in the daily “stuff” of every day life of – in both its pleasures and its struggles, in both our successes and our shortcomings – it is in the midst of all this that God comes into our lives, hearts and our souls.

Teresa wrote: God’s “appeals [to us] come through the conversations of good people, or from sermons, or through the reading of good books; and there are many other ways, of which you have heard, in which God calls us. Or they come through sicknesses and trials, or by means of truths which God teaches us at times when we are engaged in prayer.”

Teresa reminds us that God comes to us through the life of someone in whom we can see beauty and truth. God comes to us in the wonder of nature, the crispness of an autumn day, and the stillness of a breath-taking sunset. God comes in the love of another person who loves us so deeply and so unconditionally that our defenses are lowered and we dare to accept the fact that we are lovable. God comes when we gather with friends and family to share a meal, when we reach out a hand to someone we’ve hurt, or even simply to someone who is alone and for whom solitude is less a choice and more simply just the way life is. God comes when we give without fanfare or recognition to those in need – especially when we give not from our bounty, but from our necessity. Most of all, she reminds us that there is no limit to the countless ways in which God comes into our daily lives. Perhaps that’s we need especially to hear; that during this busy, over-scheduled and distraction-filled time of year, we need to be reminded that every step along the way, every word we speak, every action we take, every person we meet … these all have within them the possibility to be encounters with God incarnate in our world.

Homily for the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Oct. 29/30, 2011

For the communities of Dignity/NoVA at Emmanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Arlington, VA and Dignity/Washington at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC.

There probably isn’t a parent on the face of the planet who at least once hasn’t said to his or her child some version of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” And of course, there probably isn’t a child on the planet who, upon hearing this from his mom or dad, has ignored such parental admonition just as quickly as it was pronounced.  Ignoring and disobeying parents in such cases – whether it’s a three-year old or a thirteen year old – is probably rooted not so much in obstinacy or defiance as it is the innate ability most children have to know that being told to “do as I say, not as I do” is hardly that carries a lot of inherent weight!  Kids know – as do most of us – that something’s not quite right if the person in “authority” is saying one thing, but clearly doing not just a different thing, but often the complete opposite thing.

I’m sure we can all picture such a situation – perhaps even one in which we ourselves were either the parent or the child – and see the young person rolling her eyes, or muttering something under his breath.  The innocence of the three or four year old might enable her even to say out loud, “But Dad, you said that wearing a bike helmet is what smart kids do when riding their bikes.  Aren’t you smart? Why don’t you wear a helmet?”  The teen might have a little bit more “attitude” when he responds to his angry Mom who has just found his cigarettes in his desk drawer.  “But you smoke like chimney, so what’s the big deal?”

The scripture readings we have just heard all deal with this disconnect between saying one thing and doing another.  Our first reading comes from the last book of what we often call the “Old Testament,” or more appropriately, the “Hebrew Scriptures.”  The name Malachi may be the name of the prophetic author, or it may simply be a reference to the Hebrew meaning of the word “Malachi,” which means “My messenger.”  Although this book is a bit unusual in that it has few historical references, thus making it difficult for scholars to know exactly when it was written, it most like was written in the middle of the 5th century before Jesus – about 450 BCE.  As a whole, the book probably makes clergy, of all people, wince just a little bit, because one of Malachi’s consistent messages is that religious leaders have failed miserably.  It’s a theme that is present in the passage we hear today when Malachi announces, “And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.” The religious leaders of the day, the ones to whom God has entrusted His message and who should be the ones who, by the example of their lives, not only preach the Covenant, but also live the Covenant – these leaders seem to have failed in making the connection between what they say and what they do.  I don’t say this to be cynical – but it does seem to be true that the more things change, the more they say the same, leading us to wonder how far we have or haven’t come in 2,500 years!

As long as there are no innocent victims – as there clearly can be when clergy sometimes abuse their power or position – we often take devilish delight in learning about the scandals that are seen all too often in the lives of religious leaders.  And while we might feel a bit smug when the latest anti-gay evangelical preacher is caught in a sex-scandal with a male prostitute, we should really listen attentively to the words of Matthew in the today’s Gospel passage before we smile too widely.

You’ll remember that last week, we were reminded that one of the main ways in which Matthew depicts Jesus is that Jesus is “the new Moses, the giver of a New Law.” That Law, of course, is the Law of Love. That Jesus is the New Moses would have been very clear to Matthew’s readers.  Even though the scribes and the Pharisees have taken their place in the community “on the chair of Moses” – which, by the way is a phrase that appears nowhere else in Scripture – Matthew’s readers would have been keenly aware of the fact that, while these leaders might sit on that chair and hold an office that has a certain degree of authority and power, they really are not who they claim to be. They might have a position of authority, but the disconnect between what they preach and what they practice would undercut the legitimacy of their claim to be the true heirs of Moses.

Jesus, on the contrary, not only proclaims the New Covenant, but he also embodies the New Covenant. In his very person – in his thoughts and his words, his deeds and his actions – Jesus exemplifies complete and utter integrity.  He is able to have such integrity, such wholeness and inherent unity, because of his connection with Truth, because of his message of Love, and his abandonment of self-interest to become the Servant of all.

These are the things that are essential if we, as disciples of Jesus, are to have some measure of integrity in our own lives:

  • Having the courage to live our lives in the Light of Truth;
  • Expressing to all others the same unconditional Love that God has for us; and
  • Having humility to wash the feet of others in true servanthood

These are the prescripts of the New Law, the New Covenant that Jesus hands down not from the mountaintop of Sinai, but from the height of the Cross.

Easy to say? You bet.  Easy to do? Not so much!

Nonetheless, that is the challenge we have before us not only today, but every day of our lives as followers of Jesus. “Practicing what we preach” – “Walking the Talk” – “Lives lived with Integrity” – there are many ways we can talk about it.  Likewise, there are many ways we can live it, for each of us is uniquely gifted and uniquely blessed, each with our own strengths and weaknesses, our special talents and gifts.  But whatever way God may be asking us to Live out in our daily lives that Commandment of Love so central to the New Law and New Covenant of the Gospel, one thing we can be sure of us this:  the more we are able to make that connection, both to proclaim and to practice the Gospel of Jesus, the more we will be able to experience the truth of what the Psalmist proclaims, “In You, O Lord, I have found my Peace.”