Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Get in the wheelbarrow

            This week we are having our Parish Mission at All Saints.  It is a great opportunity to reinvigorate one's faith and this week's theme is "From Maintenance to Missionary: Faith's New Logic for Seeing Things".  Dr. Mark Ginter is presenting the mission and he is presenting it twice each day: Sunday night from 6:30-8:30 pm, and then Monday through Thursday from 12:30-2:30 pm and again from 6:30-8:30 pm.  Light refreshments are available both before (soups and crackers) and after the sessions (cookies, coffee and tea).  If you haven't made it yet PLEASE COME TODAY!!!  Dr. Ginter is making a lot of adjustments as he goes and he's refining the presentations to drive home the message.

            God want's you to experience deeply his infinite love!  And he wants you to help bring others to experience the same!  COME TO THE MISSION for the opportunity both to experience his love and to find out how to bring that love to others.


Homily: 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C
            Many of you will, perhaps, recall modern-day stuntman Nik Wallenda’s dramatic walk across Niagara Falls in June of last year.  Although still an amazing feat, he certainly wasn’t the first to do it; and legends of early tightrope walkers who crossed the Falls include seemingly fantastical stories of not just walking across, but of completing summersaults, laying down and resting, and even hanging from one’s feet, all from the tightrope.  One legend in particular describes how a walker crossed the Falls once and then returned across the Falls pushing an empty wheelbarrow.  He then turned to the crowd and offered to cross a third time, this time with a volunteer seated in the wheelbarrow.  Much to his chagrin, however, no one took him up on his offer.  It seems that, although the spectators admired what he had accomplished, it wasn’t enough for any of them to put their faith in him by placing their lives in his hands.
            In our first reading today, we heard the testimony of three of the seven Israelite brothers who with their mother were being tortured by the Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes in order to get them to apostatize—that is, denounce their faith—by eating pork, which they believed God forbade them to eat.  Each of these three, whose testimonies we heard, courageously handed over their lives to their torturers rather than denounce their faith in God by breaking the Law that he had given them.  It was the strength of their faith in the fact that God could and would raise them to life again that gave them that courage.
            Eventually, in the recounting of this story, all seven of the brothers and their mother will have been martyred by the king.  It’s as if they could see their torturer like that tightrope walker with the wheelbarrow: even though King Antiochus had accomplished great feats in conquering most of the known world, they would not put their faith in him because God promised them something more.  They believed in God’s promise of eternal life to those who remained faithful to his Laws and commandments and so they knew that if they kept themselves pure according to God’s law that, even if they should die at the hands of men, God would one day raise them to life again.
            Throughout the Gospels we find stories of Jesus performing great works.  His miracles of healing and casting out demons are some of the most amazing feats that man has ever seen, and his ability to do such feats using only his word (instead, for example, of calling on other powers) has never been seen since.  Yet throughout the Gospels Jesus constantly reminds his hearers that these great “signs and wonders” were not what he came to accomplish.  Rather, he came to bring the Good News that the Kingdom of God was at hand.  His message was one of invitation: “Repent and believe in the Good News and you will be made sons and daughters of the Most High God.”  In other words, he came not to use his divine power to overcome the powers of the world, but rather to bring the message that salvation is at hand for all peoples so that all people might put their faith in God’s promise of eternal life instead of in those who appear to be powerful in this world.  His demonstration of mighty signs and wonders were meant only to be evidence of the truth of his message.
            In our own lives, we can get caught up in being captivated by worldly pursuits.  Whether it’s the latest electronic gadget, or the latest “get rich quickly” scheme, or the latest political campaign, our world is full of forces trying to make us turn our eyes away from God and his promise of eternal life for some temporary fulfillment here on earth.  But this world, and our satisfaction in it, is not our final destiny.  Rather, eternal life forever in heaven is.  This is why God has revealed himself to us, most perfectly in Jesus Christ, his Son, so that when we are tempted to put our faith in some worldly thing—like the seven Maccabean brothers and their mother were being tortured into doing—we can remember God’s promise of eternal life: that even if we should die at the hands of men, that God will raise us to life again.
            And so my brothers and sisters, as we come here again to this Holy Eucharist to give thanks to God for his promise of eternal life, won for us by his Son, Jesus, let us renew our commitment to keep ourselves faithful to him—both in the words we speak and in the daily actions of our lives—and we, too, will be like angels and the children of God, because we will be the ones who rise to new life. 
Given at All Saints Parish: Logansport, IN – November 9th & 10th, 2013

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