Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day Homily

A soldier lays dying in a desert or a jungle or in a field of grass on some distant battlefield. He turns toward his homeland and whispers, hoping his children will hear him as he says – this is my body given up for you, one day, do this in memory of me

A father heads off to a third shift job, his second of the day – he’d rather be at home when his kids head off to school in the morning but he lost his old job and now fights to pay the bills. He enters the bedroom of his sleeping children, kisses them all on the forehead and whispers to them – this is my body given up for you, one day, do this in memory of me.

A sister wakes up every morning at 4 am to bring food to the homeless. She cares for the poorest of the poor and sometimes, because of mental illness or frustration, they cuss at her or spit at her, but a voice speaks in the back of her mind, a voice from Mass earlier that day urges her on – and she joins her voice with the voice from Mass – "this is my body given up for you – do this in memory of me."

A pregnant mother rocks in a rocking chair. She has gained weight and stretch marks in places she wished she didn’t and the occasional cramp racks her body in pain, but she smiles and sings lullabies and whispers to the child in her womb – "this is my body given up for you, do this in memory of me."

This is my body given up for you, this is my blood given up for you…do this in memory of me. These are the central words of the Mass. When the priest says them, ordinary bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, which is why we ring bells to welcome him.

But those words don’t just serve as a magical incantation; they are also the center of the Mass because they explain to us the key to life. Christ says if you want to be happy if you want to live life, and not just wait around for death, you have to give up your body, give up of yourself for other people.

We have the witness of many who have gone before us, and many who give up their own bodies for us now – soldiers, teachers, parents, friends – what we have to ask ourselves is “are these people who say this is my body given up for you” wise or are they the biggest fools of all time? Christ was pretty clear – there is no halfway – either Christ is telling the truth – that we really should do this if we want to be happy – or we should do the opposite and not give of ourselves and not give up our own bodies for others.

Do you think Jesus is telling the truth about how you ought to live your life or not?

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