Saturday, July 13, 2019

Homily for my sister Laura's wedding

So we’re obviously all coming to this wedding Mass from different places.  Some of us are Catholics, and some of us are not.  Some of us feel close to God today, and some may be struggling in their Faith or even questioning God.  I want to just say that God meets us wherever we are at this afternoon.  God draws near to us.

So whether we are Catholic or not, I wanted to spend a moment asking and then reflecting on what we are doing here.  I’d like to share a quote I turn to often when I teach or talk about the Mass. 

I want to start with a quote from one of the best Catholic authors of our time.  He carries the added advantage of being a convert to Catholicism as an adult.  His name is Thomas Howard, and he says this very charitably to non-Catholics and people who are wondering a VERY fair question: what in the world is going on at a Catholic Mass.  He says this

“It can be the case that one comes to Mass from the happy precincts of Evangelicalism, and goes away at the end with great sadness.  "But I miss the fellowship!" He might say. "I didn't since the eager atmosphere of glad attention and participation I knew in my former church." [NOT very BUBBLY]

He goes on: When the Roman Catholic "goes to church", he or she sees themselves as joining them self to something that is already going on…He has been summoned to the one necessary thing. He or she takes their place, literally, with angels and archangels and with all the company of Heaven, who laud and magnify the Holy Name of the Most High.”

I love that!

In the Mass, we are drawn up into the very life of God.  When we come to Mass, we are transported into the very life of God.  When any Mass begins, it is kind of like what they used to say on TV, “we now join the live broadcast already in progress.”

Jesus told his Mom 2,000 years ago in the Gospel we just heard that His hour had not yet come.  But it has come now.  And every time we go to Mass, we join in with His hour.

Laura and Mack, you know this.  You know that any time you come to Mass, you are joining in with something that is already going on.  It is why we surround the Church with so much beauty in architecture, artwork, sacred music, gold chalices, vestments, etc. – the beauty helps remind us and those who see it that we are doing something different here.  This is not a Kohl’s nor a Meijer nor a gym nor a fellowship hall.  This is Heaven and Earth coming together.

In the first reading we are told that God gazes through the windows of our souls and speaks to us, and that God our lover invites us to arise, as his beloved, and come away with Him. 

and so what I’d like to note is that your wedding today is obviously a sacrament in the Church, and it takes place within the central sacrament of the Eucharist.  The sacrament of your marriage takes place within another sacrament.  So as with those who come to a Mass, your wedding itself is also drawn up into the life of God.

And that’s amazing.  But let’s unpack that just a bit.

As we are assumed into the life of God, further up and further in, as the children of Narnia describe their running into Heaven, we see things.  As we are drawn up into the Life of God, into the very heartbeat of God, as we step into the flame of the eternal God, we see God’s inner workings.  And so St. Paul says keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.   It is St. Paul’s way of saying what Mary tells the wait staff in Cana – DO whatever he tells you! 

Learn, receive, hear, see…then DO!

That’s what students hear from their teachers, including at Christ the King – DO what you have learned, received, and heard and seen in me.

What do we learn, receive, hear and see in God?  Well we see the pure and transformative fire of love.  And the fire of love, when it meets that which still needs perfecting, causes pain and suffering. 

But you should know, of course, that sufferings and pains are not road blocks, sufferings and pains are not signs that you are doing it wrong, they are not signs that God is punishing you, we put crucifixes all over our homes, our classrooms, our cars to be a constant reminder that, when you experience suffering, it means you are on the trail.  You are moving further up and further in.  That your marriage is being drawn into the life of God, as gold that is purified in flame.  The first reading says “Loves flames are a blazing fire that deep waters cannot quench, cannot put out”

People who say that Mass is boring don’t know what is happening, they can’t know, and they can’t be listening to the words thundering lovingly into our lives like a stampeded of wild horses driving out all that must be driven from us and awakening in us what needs awoken. 

Let your marriage be assumed into the life of God, as the sacrament of your marriage, and all of us here, are assumed into the very heart of God at Mass today.

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