Saturday, July 9, 2011

Homily from St. Barnabas - falling off my bike and the laws of God

Some had asked me for a copy of my homily from St. Barnabas last weekend (thanks for the comments!) but unfortunately I realized afterwards that the camera died. Therefore, here is a written version to the best of my memory. God bless!

“Take my yoke upon you…for my burden is easy and my yoke is light”

People are not often in the habit of asking 32 year old priests what the greatest problem facing our Church or world might be, but nonetheless I’m going to offer a possibility.

First of all, do we see the things that Christ asks of us directly in the Scriptures, and also the things he asks of us through his Church, as coming from outside us – beyond us – laws and rules and regulations handed on by a person outside of myself and beyond me?

Many people think that when they follow the commands and regulations of Christ and His Church that they are doing Christ a big favor.

The problem with this mentality is that the things Christ is speaking to us and asking of us will never stick in a moment of true temptation, because the laws of Christ are simply suggestions coming from an alien being.

Christ is saying in today’s Gospel – “Trust Me!” “Take my yoke upon you!” “It is in your best interest to do this!”

Christ’s requests (laws, regulations, commandments, beatitudes, etc.) are not weighty things meant to squash us – they are a USER’S MANUAL for each one of us – they are written knowing the workings of the human soul – written for the SOLE purpose to bring us to restful waters.

It is at this point that I’d like to share an embarrassing story about myself from yesterday that can maybe help bring this point home.

I just bought a bike, and I decided to start riding to work some, and also to get back and forth between the rectory and the Church at St. Malachy – a distance of 5 miles.

One of the new features for me are the pedals which clip into my shoes. In order to get your shoes free from the pedal, you have to twist your heel outward until the shoe pops free of the pedal – an awkward maneuver. At the store, the bicycle shop owner said, “make sure you practice getting out of these before you start riding.” “Absolutely” I replied.

As I set out on my maiden voyage to the Church, I knew I had plenty of time before I needed to stop so I told myself “I’ll practice on the street and then when I need to stop, I’ll be fine.”

However…I had a hard time getting my shoes into the pedals, and by the time I got them clicked in, I looked up, and I was 20 feet from where I needed to stop…

I tried desperately to break free, but to no avail. I came to a stop suspended upright, and then slowly leaned to the right and fell to the ground.

It didn’t help that I was now on the ground beside Brownsburg’s main drag, and a few high school students saw fit to yell at me out the window. I decided that if I find out they were from Ritter (I didn’t dare look at them) that they’ll be suspended!

I was able to break free and ride on with nothing more than damaged pride.

What does that have to do with today’s Gospel? – If we think of the bike shop owner as God in this little analogy – then his request that I practice before riding was not a law or a rule to oppress me, to make me walk the line, to squash or control me. Choosing to not heed his request would not make me more free – it would cause me to crash and fall over

God’s laws are meant to keep me upright – riding smoothly – stopping without crashing – they are meant to achieve harmony within my soul – God’s laws are a gift to me; a guide to authentic happiness.

This weekend we celebrate freedom – but some don’t understand authentic freedom. Some paint a picture of authentic freedom as being free from all restraint – but does that lead to happiness? Does shedding one’s self of the laws of God and His Church make me more free – or does it lead to misery?

Heed the words of Christ – take his yoke upon you, and see if the yoke of His guidance lands you in disaster or in peace.