TV Mass Homily 11/17/2019

As we await the appointment of the ninth bishop of Sioux Falls, we have undertaken an upgrade of infrastructure of the Bishops House built in 1878. As a result, I have become a commuter which means I am spending more time driving. As I do so one thought has come to me: how much we rely on car brakes. Stops and starts are frequent and we expect to be protected by them from cars in front and behind to get to our destination, taking them often for granted. That thought led me to ponder whether we take for granted moral brakes, which includes the mercy our Lord offers to us in order for us to safely get to our ultimate desired designation which is oneness with Christ forever.
Our readings from Malachi and Luke raise the question of when the world as we know it will end, and Christ comes again. That it will happen we know in faith. We pray in the Creed, ‘he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.’ In the Liturgy of the Eucharist we declare: ‘Christ has died, Christ is raised, Christ will come again.’ When it will happen is a matter of speculation. Jesus tells us to not waste our time on such speculation. It will happen when God wills and in God’s way.
The key question for us is whether we will be ready whenever He does or when our day of particular judgment comes. Are our moral brakes well maintained to protect us? The fact is that to the extent we are able; we are responsible for the maintenance of our moral brakes which are based on the teachings of Christ through His Church. We ought to concern ourselves to living well each day we have been freely given, gratefully savoring each one, ever ready for when our personal or the world’s Day of Judgment comes. To live each day well is not easy given the lures of the atheistic materialistic secular culture, the temptations of the evil one, and the weariness that comes from bearing the crosses of sickness, worry and uncertainty.
Yet we can live each day well and with hope when we are confident that Christ is with us. The Lord through Malachi proclaims: “but for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” To fear the Lord is not to cringe in expectation of being punished, but to humbly look upon the Lord with awe and reverence and want to worship and respect him with our lives. Luke warns that to live such faithful lives is not easy but reassures us that we are not alone: “you will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” In other words, you can be people of hope by being faithful witnesses of Christ each day. Then you will have the strength to bear the challenges that come your way knowing that Christ is at your side.
Someone wrote: “a prison can seem like a palace, a scaffold like a throne, the storms of life like summer weather, when Christ is with us.” The test of whether we live with Christ is how well we live the Great Commandments to love the Lord with all our heart and mind and soul and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
St. John of the Cross wrote, “At the evening of life, we will be judged by our love.” This is not the smaltzy love of the culture, but the sacrificial love of Jesus reflected in how we have loved as Jesus loved and loves us. How well we have loved is revealed especially in the seemingly little things of everyday life.
Pope John Paul I told the story about a Korean general who was judged worthy of heaven. He asked St Peter if before he entered he could get a glimpse of hell. His wish was granted and he saw a large hall with an enormous table on which were enticing bowls of rice. The hungry guests sat opposite of each other with very long chopsticks which made it impossible to raise the rice to one’s mouth and so with great frustration they remained hungry while eyeing the satisfaction in front of them which they could not reach. The general then entered into heaven and saw the very same scene – a large hall, enticing bowls of rice, long chopsticks. The guests there were cheerful and smiling. The difference was that they put the rice in the grasp of their chopsticks and passed to the guest on the other side so he could eat. His point was ‘thinking of others instead of oneself had solved the problem and transformed hell into heaven.’ (Castle)
A mother and daughter were shopping and the mother asked her daughter to hold her purse. The daughter took the purse and staggered under its weight. Over lunch she asked her mother to show her what was in it. There were grocery coupons, maps, lottery tickets, an envelope of reserve money just in case, photo albums of grandchildren, two change purses – one for groceries and one for coins, bankbooks, rings of keys, a prayer book, a flashlight for reading in the dark, scissors, a calculator, two rosaries, a kitchen timer because she was afraid the church group would overcook meals for the homeless, a needle and thread, a Swiss army knife, screws, sandpaper, garbage bags in case someone got sick. As the daughter looked on as the pile grew, she marveled that her mother was always ready to be a caregiver no matter where she went or with whom.
Each of us can be care givers by the prayers we offer, by the help we give to those in need, by sharing the blessings we have received, by the expressions of sorrow and support we offer, by the forgiveness we extend, by the witness of faith we publicly show, by being instruments of Christ in our little section of the world.
When we do so we will always be ready for when Christ comes again. We will be well prepared at the evening of our lives to be judged by how we have loved. When we love as Christ has loved us, our moral brakes will be well maintained and protect us.