May 3, 2015

A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER –  CYCLE “B” –  MAY 3RD, 2015  – SMG

Pax et Bonum!  Peace and goodness to you this day!

When I was growing up, one of the things that I heard over and over again from both of my parents, was that the most important thing that you have in this life, is your reputation.  It’s not just about what people think about you, instead it is much, much more about trust about you, or don’t trust about you.  And you know, when you’re growing up, there are so many things that more important to you than your reputation.  How you look, who your friends are, how much money you have, what you’re good at, can all seem so much more important than your reputation.  But you know, the older you get, the more you realize, and certainly the more I realize, how right my parents were.  We want to have a good reputation.  We want to tell the truth and live the truth.  Honesty is so hard to find in our world today.  We don’t want to take things that don’t belong to us.  We want to use language that is respectful and not obscene.  We want to be able to keep confidences and have people know that they can trust us.  We want to do the right thing, and make the right decisions, so that no matter who is watching, even if nobody is watching, people know that we will always do what is right.  To have that kind of reputation, to have a good reputation, to be known to others for our commitment to our values and to what is right, is worth more than all the money in the world.  Today we need to see how important, how valuable our reputation is.  And if our reputation is a little tarnished, if it is not what it could be, then we turn to God and ask Him to help us to change what we need to, in order to have a better reputation.   In Christian terms, we call this conversion.  And needing conversion, and working hard to return to good values, is exactly where we all find ourselves today as we come here to celebrate the Fifth Sunday of our Easter season.

Our first reading today tells the story of a man who has a bad reputation.  Saul, who we know today as St. Paul, arrives in Jerusalem.  He does not get much of a welcome.  Instead, he finds a Church that is very much still afraid of him.  And why is that?  Saul’s, or Paul’s reputation has proceeded him.  Paul had done terrible things to Christians.  The Church in Jerusalem knew about him.  And they couldn’t believe that he would really change.  They were all just holding their breath until the real Saul came back out, and turned them all over to the authorities, to be killed.  A person like Saul doesn’t change, they must have thought.   And yet, in Saul, or Paul, or whatever we want to call him, we see one of God’s greatest examples of conversion.  If God could convert Paul, then our God can convert anyone!  It was that radical of a thing!  God could even convert us!  Believe it or not!  And we must give God the opportunity to convert us, and to convert those around us.  Conversion is an amazing thing!  It is even more amazing when we see God change us, or change people that we never ever thought He’d be able to change.  There is no one who is outside the power of God’s love.  Conversion is happening in all of us.  Some faster, some slower, but God isn’t done with any of us yet.

And what do we have to do to be converted?  As the Gospel says, we must stay connected to the vine.  If we are connected to the vine, anything can happen!  Our on-going conversion means staying close to Jesus and letting His love, His Grace, His power change us for the better.  That can’t happen if we’re off by ourselves.  We need to be constantly connected to Jesus Christ, our power source and our source of life!

Ever try running a refrigerator without plugging it in?  It won’t work.  Nothing happens.  It is the same thing when we say that we want Christ to convert our hearts, but we are not plugged in!  That won’t work either.  Do we want to change?  Do we want our lives converted to Christ, like St.Paul’s was?  Then we had better stay close and connect to Jesus Christ, by our prayer, by our study, by our lives, and by our love!  Dead branches are too late for conversion!  The time for conversion is NOW.   The time to let Jesus come into our hearts and change us forever is right now.  We all want the best reputation that we can possibly have!  We all want to be trusted, to be respected, and to stand for all the right things.  If that’s really the case, then let us align our reputations with the reputation of Jesus Christ, the true vine.  There is no better reputation to have!  And may our own conversions lead all of us ever closer to the reputation of Jesus Christ!

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

St. Maria Goretti…                 Pray for us !!!