Sunday, February 3, 2013

You Are Here (2013-02-03)

This is my homily for SUNDAY 3 February  2013. I am a Catholic chaplain in Teaneck at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association and at New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Evening (5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) at the FDU University Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ.

4th Sunday, 3 February 2013
[Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19 | 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13 |  Luke 4:21-30]

[__01]       You are here.

[SPRE]  This particular address is written --- 445 5th Avenue, River Edge, NJ and St. Peter’s Church;  and,  on a map – seen between Van Saun Park and Fifth Avenue.  Both God and a Google Map satellite are watching us right now.

 [FDU]  This particular address is written --- 842 River Road, Teaneck, and and,  on a map – seen as a property between the Hackensack River and River Road, adjacent to FDU Public Safety.   Both God and a Google Map satellite are watching us right now.

You are here.  Save the dot for future reference.

[__02]       In a less familiar place, of unfamiliar streets and marketplaces, say in Japan,  Switzerland, or  … Garden State Plaza, we may need a map.

Have we not been lost, confused, unable or unwilling to ask for directions.

You are here. The map with the dot is important, to reach the train station, to cross the street, or exit J. Crew.

You are here. I am here.

[__03]       And, “here” on the page of Luke, Chapter 4, Jesus has returned to the familiar streets of Nazareth.

Jesus, you are here. While having returned home, Jesus receives no hero’s welcome for all those miracles. There is parade, no Air Force One welcome.

There is only rejection from the people who knew him well, a rejection [a spurning, a turning way] that is summarized in a famous saying about prophets

For we have all been the ‘prophet’ now and then, in relationships between:

  • Grown up Parent and young child

  • Grown-up Child and grown up parent

  • Spouses – wife and husband

  • Any conversation about  – what to eat, when to do homework, what is good for you …

  • Relations between teacher and student

In all of these, the prophet expects to be heard, if not also admired …and given a parade of thanksgiving.  We will settle for a Mardi Gras parade , if we cannot get a Super Bowl parade.

But, it is quite the other way, sometimes.

And, our Lord and Savior summarizes the situation: “no prophet is accepted in his own native place” (Luke 4:24)

Or, as we have also read –

“no prophet is accepted in his own country.” (Luke 4:24, Douay-Rheims)

You are here.

[__04]        In a time of rejection or refusal, we need to consider the map, the surroundings, both externally and internally.

When we experience rejection, we are tempted to run and hide.  Certainly, we may need some private time, some time to recollect ourselves.

But, at this time of rejection, Jesus remains out in the open.

Externally, we can do the same. What do we do when we’re lost in the Metro – in D.C. or
Tokyo – we examine our surroundings.

And, if we are rejected, turned away by even the most popular person at River Dell High or Bergen Catholic or IHA or Fairleigh Dickinson or NYU, we should examine our surroundings carefully.

Is this rejection going to change me? Destroy me?

Jesus gives us an example of confidence when it would be easy to be crushed, hurt.  After all, everyone wants to be celebrated at homecoming and remembered at the class reunion.

We are not “here”, we do not merely exist to gain human approval in the form of popularity, the Dean’s List, or even more financial aid.

That’s not the only the map – or GPS – we follow.

[__05]        Internally, inside of us another map exists.

St. Paul writes in Romans Chapter 8 – “all things work for good for those who love God and who are called according to his purpose.”   (Romans 8:28)

Internally, another map exists, another home. This is our home with God in our hearts.

[SPRE]  And, if we are rejected at River Dell, or Bergen Catholic, or River Edge …

 [FDU]  And, if we are rejected at / in the Courts/Northpointe/Linden/the  SUB or somewhere else on the campus map
Then, we share in the sufferings of Christ.

It is a mystery, but also the truth that the child who grows up without parents, the parents who suffer the death of a child, the person dying in hospital – or without access to school.

From the perspective of “Nazareth” or  “River Dell”  or   “Metropolitan Campus”, they may be isolated and alienated.

These folks may not appear on anyone’s map or radar screen, or recently found GPS destinations, or SENT MESSAGE box.

Yet, they are not lost. For the person who is rejected, impoverished, is suffering not alone but with Christ.

When we say we are offering up our own sufferings, we are then suffering with both of them.

And, we are all given the opportunity to be Simon of Cyrene on Good Friday, to pick up the cross each day. This is a blessing.

And, on the map, the cross brings us closer to our true home, where God is.

Lord, we know, You are Here. [__fin___]

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