Sunday, March 31, 2013

Our hearts are hungry, O Lord...

What a joy to celebrate my first Easter as a priest! It has truly been a beautiful experience so far.  I pray that all of you will know the joy of the Resurrected Christ this day and that his love will be with you to heal you, strengthen you, and give you peace.  Christ is risen!  Alleluia!!!


Homily: Easter Sunday – Cycle C

Well, we made it!  After forty days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, here we are on Easter Sunday.  What a joy it is to be here with all of you: my still new family in Christ.  Like any good engineer, however, I’m never content just to arrive at my destination.  Rather, there’s always a little part of me that wants to look back at where I’ve been and how I arrived here in order to see if I accomplished all that I had set out to accomplish.  I think that it is a valuable thing for us to do on Easter Sunday: kind of like looking over photos from a trip as soon as you get home so that you don’t quickly forget the experiences you had.

To begin, let’s go back to Ash Wednesday, all the way back on February 13th.  There we heard Christ call us to repent from our sins and to believe in the Gospel and I encouraged you to look hard at what your Lenten fasts would be to ensure that they produced more than just forty days of punishment, but that they would also produce in you a sense of detachment.

Then, on the first Sunday of Lent, we recounted how Christ modeled for us what our forty days of fasting should produce in us.  He spent forty days in the desert, fasting and praying; and the Scriptures tell us that when he emerged from the desert, he was hungry (Duh!).  What Jesus realized during that time of fasting and prayer was that it wasn’t food or other worldly things that he wanted, but rather it was communion with God that all of his desires were pointing him towards.  Therefore, when the devil tempted him to change rocks into bread, to worship him so he could have dominion over the kingdoms of the world, and to put God to the test by throwing himself off of the parapet, Jesus could resist him.  His fasting had led him to detachment from any desire for these worldly things.

A couple of weeks later, we heard about the Samaritan woman whom Jesus meets at the well.  Poor woman was just trying to get to the well and get home without running into anybody, but there was Jesus ready to flip her world upside down.  Jesus innocently asks for a cup of water, but when the woman questions him about asking a Samaritan for something, Jesus reveals to her the real reason why he is there: he tells her that if she knew who she was talking to that she would be asking him for water, because the water he would give would never leave her thirsty again.  What Jesus was revealing to her was that what she was really looking for couldn’t be found in husbands or in a well, but that it was sitting there right in front of her: that what she really thirsted for was to know God and that this knowledge alone would satisfy her thirst.

While I could go on picking out other examples from our Scripture readings from these past seven weeks, I won’t.  Hopefully, however, for these last forty days, this has been the work that we have been doing: removing the old yeast of malice and wickedness, as Saint Paul describes it today, so that we can celebrate this feast with the “unleavened bread” of sincerity and truth.  Hopefully, by our fasting and almsgiving we’ve been detaching ourselves from the things of this world: things that only provide a temporary satisfaction.  And hopefully through our prayer—which is where we meet God like that woman did at the well—Jesus has been showing us what it is that we are truly thirsting for.  And so, hopefully, you find yourself today like Jesus did when he emerged from the desert and like the woman did when she encountered him at the well: hungry and thirsty for what truly satisfies.

If you’ve done your work well, then you probably feel a sense of freedom from whatever it is that you gave up.  Thus, you won’t be easily tempted to go back to it now that Lent is finished.  If, however, you haven’t done this work so well, then you’re probably looking forward to getting out of this Mass as quickly as you can so that you can indulge again in whatever it was that you sacrificed for the last forty days.  Either way, I can tell you that the hunger that all of us are feeling today—the hunger that we are left with after forty days of fasting—is not a hunger for worldly things (although it may feel that way); rather, it is a hunger for God.
Saint Augustine once famously said: “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.”  I think that he could have just as easily said the same thing if he would have said: “We are always hungry, O Lord, until our hungers are satisfied in you.”  And so, whether you have used this time of Lent well or poorly (or not at all), I can tell you that whatever hunger you feel inside of you today is truly a hunger for God and only communion with him will truly satisfy it.

Now, I’m enough of a realist to realize that some of us here see this and some of us don’t.  Those who see it are here today rejoicing with full hearts and full voice that God has not left us alone to die in our sin, but rather that through the resurrection of his Son he has redeemed us so that our hungers can be satisfied.  Maybe, however, that’s only a few of us.  Perhaps, though, many of us have gotten a glimpse of this during Lent and so come here today with great hope that something new is happening in our lives that can move us towards finding meaning and purpose in all that we do.  Yet I am sure that there are still some of us here who just don’t see it at all.  And you know what?  That’s ok.  Because we are all here today, just like Jesus’ disciples were all together on the first Easter.  And we are all hearing the same news—the joyful, compelling, and confounding news: He is risen!

And so regardless of where you find yourself today, the Good News is that He is risen and for the next fifty days we will be feasting on the joy of this day, and everyone is welcome to join in this feast from wherever it is that you are at.  This feast is truly the foretaste of heaven: for it is the joy that on this day nearly two-thousand years ago Jesus the Christ of God rose from the dead and conquered sin and death forever, restoring our communion with God and making it so that we can all truly live in harmony and peace.

My brothers and sisters, if you have been waiting for your invitation to join into this feast, then here it is.  Whatever it is that compelled you to be here today, know that God wanted you to be here and that he invites you to come and experience the richness of this banquet that he has prepared for you—for all of us—from before time began.  He knows that each and every one of us is hungry and he longs to satisfy that hunger.   Therefore come.  Come and experience the satisfaction that only he can give: the union of love that he offers us here in this Eucharist.

Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – March 31st, 2013
The Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord

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