Sunday, September 8, 2013

Above-Ground Visibility (2013-09-08)

This is my homily for Sunday September 8, 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 is celebrated 5:00 pm during Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. at FDU Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck. 

September 8, 2013  /  23rd Sunday

••• Wisdom 9:13-18b ••• Psalm 90 ••• Philemon 9-10,12-17 ••• + Luke 14:25-33 •••

[__01_]   In this Sunday’s gospel from the 14th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we read a short parable about 2 stages of a construction project, the construction of a tower.

The first stage, Stage 1, is the foundation.

And, we are reminded frequently, by the Lord, about the importance of a firm foundation.

[__02__]  In the Word of God of the Bible and Gospel, we are reminded about a firm foundation.

In Psalm 119, we read that God’s word is lamp to my feet and a light for my path. This Word of God – wisdom and virtue - keeps us balanced, upright, keeps our feet on the ground.

In Matthew Chapter 7, we are told about the 2 foundations, the choices we can make in real estate speculation and the selection of a home. This is the a choice between sand and rock. 
And, as we know, the rains came, the winds blew and buffeted the house. But [the house set solidly on rock] did not collapse.

This  “rock” is also our faith in God and the commandments that enables us to endure – not just rain and wind and water – but also … adversity, criticism, even mockery a person – even a friend – with whom we do not agree in some value judgment.

The rock enables us to forgive.

We need rock to stand tall.

But, we also need rock to remain visible.

The foundation exists so that the multi-level structure – the multi-story tower - can be visible.

[__03_]   However, sometimes, we can become – I too can become – complacent or self-satisfied with only a foundation and no building, no visible structure.

In this parable about moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2, our Lord is asking us to consider our hidden  calculations, computations.

For example, do we sometimes give up or turn back after the first or second difficulty arises.   This happens after we have a foundation.  That is, we have made it through midterms…or made it to all the way to graduation or even retirement.

But, then, in Stage 2, the regular season begins.

And, we are called to be seen, to be visible witnesses to our faith and to our calling.

Will not many of us, for example, be called to sacrifice our time, convenience, money for the sake a family member in advanced age or illness?

Jesus is saying is not enough to have the foundation of a blood relationship, or the foundation of a historical relationship.

Stage 2, is – to put it bluntly – what have you done for me lately?

This was often Jesus’ challenge to his disciples, reminding them that he – and they – came not to be served but to serve.

[__04__]  Jesus is inviting  us – in our relationships and commitmens to live out our faith visibly and. Yes, we may need some resources to finish.

For this, we come to Sunday Mass, to prayer, to confession of our sins, to repentance, to gain these resources.

In fact, Jesus does not want us to live strictly indoors, underground in a foundation, or “under the dome”.

Jesus invites us to enter and complete Stage 2. This is a stage with many tests, not just for the weight room or gym or classroom.

They will be tests such as…
·        care of a loved one in advanced age.

·         Caring for a child with special needs

·         Caring someone younger – or more junior – to ourselves – someone to whom we are the leader, the mentor, the adviser.  In such a situation, we maybe “in charge” … but we are also called to the servant. The last shall be first.

In these and other ways, we live above ground, standing on the foundation, carrying the cross in Stage 2.

We also bring our petitions and requests before God for the resources – natural and supernatural – so that we may finish.

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