26 August 2018 / 21st Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B
•• Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b •• Psalm 34 •• Ephesians 5:21-32 •• + John 6:60-69
•• Title: Real Presence
[__01__] ‘Instantaneous ’ - instantaneous – means “right now.”
In this homily, I’d like to talk about what is going on …
· RIGHT NOW in the Gospel.
· Then, a “RIGHT NOW” example to illuminate the Gospel.
· And, to speak about what is happening RIGHT NOW in the Catholic Church, in the news, in the news with which you are perhaps all very familiar.
‘Instantaneous’ or ‘real time’ describes something that is happening right now, the hurricane in Hawaii or another weather pattern, whether we are in it or not, we know of its existence.
It’s still happening right now.
Sometimes, we turn off our phones or computers or TV’s wondering what is happening – right now – that I cannot be connected to. And, in Catholic Tradition, we Jesus’ Real Presence – his instantaneous presence - through Holy Communion.
This my body given up for you. Right now.
[__02__] Jesus is real in Holy Communion.
This is not a matter of “giving up” because I am indifferent, but rather “giving up” or “offering up” because we care about the well being of another person.
As an example… a RIGHT NOW example.
[__03 __] Right now. My brother and his wife have a daughter who is about to start college, about to start her first year of undergraduate-college and is moving into her college residence hall today about 30 minutes from here in New York.
But, they live in California. She is moving in right now. TODAY. How do you bring a child to college with all of her belongings, all of her necessary things, 3,000 miles, when it is a cross-country excursion?
Your order everything online.
In real time, it gets there.
And, over the past 3 months – RIGHT NOW - my parents’ condominium – also hear near NYC -has come to resemble a warehouse, packages, boxes, deliveries, from Target, Ikea, Amazon. And the boxes were not placed in the garage or basement, but right there all over the living room and dining room.
I told my father the other day, “you know you could have put these in the garage or the basement.” I think he liked them in the living room to keep an eye on them, even though he did not know what was in them.
The paternal and parental instinct, just to keep an eye on things even if you do not know what is going on.
So, amid all of this, of course, there was a person at the center of all of this, their granddaughter, my brother’s daughter and my niece, to take care of her properly, to get her started.
[__04__] It is a frequent message of the Gospel that we should not store up treasures on earth – or from Amazon – but rather treasure in heaven.
But, I think there a temptation which is that we might just welcome Jesus as one more box or package and put him in a box and keep him in a corner.
Jesus is, however, is the child not to leave behind but rather the child and person to place in front of us.
[__05 __] Jesus gives life when we welcome him amid our busyness, our problem-solving, our packaging and re-packaging.
The boxes and packages of Target, Ikea, Amazon make sense in the living room because they are connected to a person whose boxes they are. “The yoke is easy and the burden light” (Matthew 11:30) when we act out of true love.
[__06__] There is a challenge in the Gospel, because some disciples do not want to welcome Jesus – RIGHT NOW – into their lives.
They want to postpone or to re-define his arrival.
Jesus reminds us he is here to stay and to remain among us, not to just to deliver Holy Communion – and leave – but to deliver you and me, to take us with him.
Do we want to go there?
Did we have other plans?
[__07 __] The temptation faced by the disciples of his day and ours is that we will “also leave”.
But, to receive Holy Communion means that we are in community with others. Your burden is my burden or box – whether it is delayed, lost or on time – is my burden also, as Saint Paul wrote also in Ephesians 5 about the shared joy and struggles of wives and husbands in marriage.
We are all preparing for Jesus’ arrival which is RIGHT NOW. It is not tomorrow, it’s TODAY and at 11:30 am Mass and was also at 5:30 Saturday, and 7:30 am and 9:30 am.
But, we do not want to postpone it until next week, because it is happening right now, we are called to welcome Jesus by our willingness to be converted, changed, RIGHT NOW.
[__08__] RIGHT NOW, in the news media, there are many articles about the mishandling of criminal abuse cases of children. I was remembering something that happened around the year 2000.
[__09 __] Around the year 2000, I was applying to go to the seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange. I was, at that time, working.
And, one evening, after my regular daytime job, I went to the seminary for my interview with a priest and professor there.
And, I was particularly stressed out due to a difficult project at work.
I was reflecting that the seminary would be a place for me to pray and to change my pace of life.
And, even now, 18 years later, I am still on that same journey. I am not perfectly peaceful, but I am seeking that peace – in God – that you are also seeking.
And, the seminary started that journey very well.
Now, after the priest heard this from me, he quoted Psalm 84 to me … was seeking a different way …and I remember the priest who interviewed me quoted to me Psalm 84 …”one day within your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.”
Now … not every day in the seminary was better than a thousand elsewhere.
However, for the most part, I experienced a significant change in my life and attitude, very positive. I felt called to be a priest.
About a year or so after that interview – and early in my seminary days – there were scandals being discovered of priests and criminal abuse of children, children who trusted them.
This was in 2002. So, I thought ..why should I even stay in the seminary?
Is one day within your courts better than a thousand elsewhere? I this place really any better?
That is the question.
I came to believe it was, it is and that I was/am called to become a priest.
It is a joy to serve you at Our Lady of Lourdes.
During these 2002 discovery time of many scandals of abuse by priests/clergy, I was encouraged by seminary faculty who wanted to discuss this with us, with the seminarians. We were able to talk with our priests, mentors, and professors who were very open and honest with us about their own disappointment in Church leaders.
I do not know what the changes will be as a result of the most recent discovery and reporting of abuse. I do not have an announcement of a solution or resolution.
I share your outrage, your disappointment. And, if any of you wants to talk to me personally whether it is to talk in detail, just to vent to me, to share your concerns, I am glad to listen at any time, before or after Mass, on the phone or in person, whether it is to ask a question or demand an answer. Please call me or stop in and see you.
I have a responsibility to dialogue with you and listen to you, to what your concerns are.
The seminary remains the center of formation and information and help to those studying for the priesthood. Pray for those studying for the priesthood, including own Father Bob Suszko is one of our priests as he is vice rector of the seminary – please pray for Father Bob and for the rector and professors.
The seminary was a place of dialogue and discernment for me and the most important question (in 2 parts) I was asked was this –
“do you love the people whom you serve?; and, do you show the people you serve that you love them?”
I do love you, the people I serve. And, I realize that I do not do this perfectly, all the time.
But, that is the question – some priests – some men preparing for the priesthood did not know the answer to that question, did not know what it meant unfortunately.
And, this had heinous consequences.
And, so, above all, we pray for the victims, the children, the families,
They need our EYES to watch over them, and EARS to hear them.
We must listen and watch out for them, to let them know that the Catholic Church cares for them and about them, RIGHT NOW.
Listen to them.