Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fr. James's Sunday Homily

The Feast of Christ the King

God wants you to be happy and overflowing with joy. He wants you to fulfill your destiny and purpose in life by reaching eternal life in heaven. He is so interested in you that he sent his only begotten Son to save you from sin. Remember, God’s love for you is unconditional. Think about this for a moment: God’s love for you is unconditional. In reality, Christianity is a love story: God loves you unconditionally and he calls you to love him unconditionally.

Up until the time of the first Christmas when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the road to salvation was rather confusing, but now, with the coming of Jesus, the way that leads to eternal life is clear. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

In this Sunday’s gospel passage Jesus tells us exactly what we need to do to enter into the glory of heaven: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those who are in prison. Christianity is very practical and it is to be lived within the ordinary circumstances of every day life.

Too many times we might fall into the trap that Christianity is lived out only in the special moments, like when you see someone in need on the side of the street, or when there are natural disasters. But, we can only respond to those special moments if we are living the gospel each and every day, and in a very practical and concrete manner.

We are called to love. This is the meaning of our lives. Every act of service, every act of kindness, every act of self giving must be seen as an act of love.

And who do we love? “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 40).

Before his conversion, Francis of Assisi was riding his horse through the countryside. Suddenly he came upon a leper. Despite the ugliness of the terrible disease, Francis was so moved with pity, that he jumped off of his horse and flung his arms around the unfortunate man. As Francis looked at the leper, the man’s face changed and it appeared as the face of Jesus.

Is Christianity really possible? Yes, of course it is. We need to show the world that love is possible and that we believe in love.

I think one of the greatest acts of charity that you can do when you get up in the morning, or when you go to work, or to school, or to church, or even when you do your shopping, is to do something so simple: just smile and say hello to people. Show everyone that you are a living member of the kingdom. Yes, you are a member of a beautiful kingdom, a kingdom that God has prepared for you “from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25: 34).

The kingdom that we belong to is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace” (Preface). Show everyone that you are happy to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Let everyone know that you are excited about the Kingdom of Christ.

Selfishness can be our biggest obstacle from truly experiencing the exuberant joy of Christianity. We need to forget ourselves completely. The Second Vatican Council said, “It follows, then, that if human beings are the only creatures on earth that God has wanted for their own sake, they can fully discover their true selves only in sincere self-giving (Gaudium et Spes, 24).

John Paul II echoed these words when he said, “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (Redemptor Hominis, 10.1)

This Sunday’s gospel narrative also teaches us that sins are not only the bad things that we do, but that sin also consists of those things that we should have done. This type of sin is called sin of omission.

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” (Matthew 25: 41-43).

Selfishness, when it is deeply rooted in our souls, prevents us from loving the way we should. It keeps us from being aware of the needs of others.

Blessed Mother Theresa certainly showed the modern world how to love. She once said, “What I can do, you cannot. What you can do, I cannot. But together we can do something beautiful for God. Yes, you must live life beautifully and not allow the spirit of the world that makes gods out of power, riches, and pleasure make you to forget that you have been created for greater things – to love and to be loved”.

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