This is my homily, Sun. April 28, 2013. I am a Catholic chaplain at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU, Teaneck), FDU Newman Catholic Association, New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City. At FDU, Sunday Evening Mass 5:00 pm/7:00 pm celebrated during Fall and Spring semester at FDU University Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ.
TITLE: “Password ”
[__01] In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas are traveling. These 2 are traveling missionaries throughout the Mediterranean region.
And, we read that they are opening doors.
They are opening new communities.
Paul are Barnabas are teaching the Good News of the Gospel. We read that
“[Paul and Barnabas] had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).
These are the new Christians of Pamphylia, Pisidia, Perga, Attalia, Antioch. They have received the password, the key to the door
[__02] One of the challenges of our lives to recall and maintain our keys, passwords, personal identification numbers, PIN codes.
So also in the Gospel, Jesus offerspasswords and keys that we are called to guard and maintain.
One difference is that the Gospel “passwords” and “concepts” are not 17-character alphanumeric codes which we hide from public view.
[__03] Rather, our Savior offers passwords and key words that we can recall and even share:
· Pray for your enemy; pray for those who persecute you; pray for those who cause difficulty.
· In the sacraments.. Jesus reminds us of certain passwords.
· In the sacrament of matrimony, Jesus reminds us that the 2 shall become 1. That’s a keyword for husbands and wives to recall. In other words, the benefit of one is the benefit of the other. The happiness (or sorrow) of one is the happiness (sorrow) of the other.
· For mothers and fathers… and everyone – we are called to recall the words, Jesus says “he who welcomes a child… welcomes me.” A great test of our skills of “hospitality” and of “warmth” is how we will treat a child… how we will treat anyone who lacks the same skill/energy that you and I have. Do we welcome the child whom we encounter in other people. …
· This “child to be welcomed” is not simply a person under age 21 or 18 or 13 …. Jesus places a child in the midst of the disciples also as a “key”, a key to understanding the Gospel, the Gospel that calls us to love those who are rejected, forgotten. To love those whom we might reject or forget.
· So, one key is to ask myself, yourself. Do I welcome others – as children who are also growing and beloved in God’s sight? Or, do I “try” (convict?) them as adults?
· In the Gospel of this Sunday, we read, “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
[__04] Even though the password is “love” or “charity", we may need to talk, text, or email it in various ways …or even, daresay, express it in person!
Faith -- and confidence in God – are doorways, places of encounter, of journeys.
We need a password to access the corridor.
We pass through these doors all the time.
On our way to this doorway to our Savior, we pass through other entrances and exits.
We are called to practice our faith wherever we are.
Of course, the ultimate doorway is that at which we find ourselves face-to-face with God…. In heaven.
We will pass through other doorways on the way.
And, we may need to recall these passwords to navigate with relationships with family, friends, co-workers.
And, if we have not used the password for a while, we may have trouble recalling it.
Don’t you and I open certain “doors” – or bank accounts – or files – infrequently? These passwords could pertain to records – financial, academic, personal, legal.
In some cases, we open certain doors – or accounts or records – very infrequently.
In such cases, we may have somewhere – in a galaxy far far away – a password or a key for access. But, we have no idea where it could be ..what it is.
We may need help to recall what it is.
(Do you need a new password? Yes, I need a new password … or a new key for entry.)
[__05] Faith and love are doorways.
Different doorways require slightly different versions of the same password.
[__06] At times, in love and in charity, we close a doorway, we close the door.
Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:6)
Sometimes, out of love for God and love for each other, we close the door to pray. The temptation might be to talk about everything which is of concern, to tell the world, or at least everyone on the floor… or everyone I meet on the way to class…
However, sometimes, the loving choice is to close the door first. Close the door to ask for God’s help, God’s wisdom. This is not isolation but intimacy, trust.
At such a door, the password, love, remains a constant.
[__07] At other times, in love and in charity, we open a doorway, we open the door.
Consider times when you and I receive criticism, negative feedback from others. There are times when we would prefer a closed door policy. But, can I accept the will, the voluntary criticism of another? Can I open the door in love, to consider what the truth is?
This is love for God, for neighbor, for oneself.
[__08] In Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas are traveling crossing borders, time zones, new countries, new worlds. Such travel – also requires passwords, codes … and our Savior is trying to impart these codes for us, writing them on our hearts for recall at important moments – and doorways - of our lives.
At such a door, the Gospel passwords remain constant, just as is constant God’s love for you and me. [__fin__]