Homily: Jan 27, 2013

+ Peace and goodness to you this day!

We are some of the most scheduled, most planned out, most calendared-out people in the history of the world.  We have schedules to make our schedules.  We plan.  We schedule.  We organize, all to get the most out of our time.  In many ways, we are always looking ahead, we are always planning.  We spend so much of our time planning for what’s coming, that sometimes we can miss the importance and the experience of today.  And so many of us live this way.  We’re always thinking ahead.  Right now, for example, I’m already thinking about Lent.  Ash Wednesday is just a little more than two weeks away.  I’ve got to get ready.  And if Lent is coming, then I’ve also got to be concerned that Easter is earlier than usual on March 31st.  And then, I am really looking forward to both First Communion and Confirmation both of which are going to be celebrated this year on the first weekend of May.  And then, I’ve got to remember when school is getting out, but I’ve also got to keep in mind that school resumes here at St. Maria Goretti on August 19th, so before school gets out I am already worried about it beginning again.  And then we have Deacon Clayton’s ordination on June 8th, and John Etter’s ordination to the permanent diaconate on September 14th.  There’s so much to look forward to!  It’s exciting.  And I know that you guy’s schedule at home for multiple people is even crazier!  As one of our moms told me recently, “Father, if it is not on the big family calendar, then it is not going to happen.”  The problem with this is, of course, the more that we are occupied with the future, the more we tend to rob from the present, the right now.  We also know that it is entirely possible to be so concentrated on the past, on events that have already happened, that our past can also distract us from our present.  It is very difficult to live for today.

Do you know who had a particular difficult time doing this?  The Jewish people.  The Hebrews especially of Jesus’ age, were always looking back at the great things that God had done for their ancestors.

There was Abraham, and Issac, and Jacob.  There was Moses.  There was Elijah, and King David, and Jeremiah.  God has done some remarkable things for the Jewish people, and they were always looking back at those great things.  At the same time, the Israelites were waiting for the Messiah to come.  They were longing for that day, down the road, when the Messiah would come, and everything would be great again.  But what’s the problem?  They are spending so much time looking back wishing that God would take care of them like He used to, and they are so busy looking forward, waiting for the Messiah, that one day, Jesus walks into their lives, and they miss it.  They fail to see God standing right in front of them in the here and now.

In St. Luke’s Gospel today, Jesus walks into the synagogue in Nazareth, He reads the passage from Isaiah, and then He tells them straight out, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Jesus isn’t talking to them about the time of Abraham or Moses.  And He’s promising them something that is coming centuries down the road.  Jesus says “Today”.  Today things change.  Today everything is different.  Today God wants to love you.  Today God wants to help you.  Today the world can be a better place because our God with us!  And this was so hard for the Jewish people in the synagogue that day!  What does He mean?  What’s He trying to tell us?  Does this mean that we don’t have to wait anymore?  And of course for us as Christians, that is exactly what Jesus means.  We don’t have to wait anymore.  The Kingdom of God has been initiated.  It’s happening, folks.  God is at work with His people.  And now our choice is to get on-board, or NOT get on-board.

I think that we can all be a whole lot more Jewish than we like to admit.  We too like to look at our past with nostalgia and longing.  And we also like to forward to the Kingdom, to holiness, to God’s blessings, but it’s always tomorrow.  It’s not today.  Jesus is very clear here today.  He’s talking about today, right now!  Now is the time for holiness.  Now is the time to make the Kingdom a reality and not just talk about it.  Now is the time to know, love, and serve God!  Now is the time for us to really see how powerful our God really is!  Today is important!  Today is an opportunity!  Today is a gift from God!  You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that says, “That’s why we call it the present.”  We can get back or change yesterday.  We can’t do anything about tomorrow either, because we don’t know if we are going to have tomorrow.  What we do have, is today.  What we can do something with, is today!  What can you do today to love and serve God?  How could you make your world a better place today?  What would it take for you to experience God and His love in your life today?   ***  Forget about the past and the future for just a little while, and let’s enjoy this special favor from the Lord today!

+ May God bless us on this day,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                                    AMEN !!!

+  St. Maria Goretti…                     Pray for us !!!

*** CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK INSERT ***

In a special way, Catholic schools have always taught this as the very heart of their message.  This week, as we join in the celebration of Catholic Schools Week 2013, we as a Parish and as a Catholic School re-commit ourselves to what Jesus was trying to teach us in the synagogue that day in Nazareth.  Every day is a special opportunity to know God, to serve God, and to take God out into the world that we live in.  At this Mass in particular, we congratulate all of our students, faculty, and staff, for doing that every day here at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School.  May Jesus and His Kingdom ALWAYS be the reason for everything that we do!  ***