Hi everyone, here’s my homily for SATURDAY of the 12th WEEK OF OT – June 26, 2010 – which I gave at the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Staff Training in Champaign, Illinois. The readings can be found at http://www.usccb.org/nab/062610.shtml Thanks as always for reading and your feedback…
God Bless – Fr. Jim
“I can’t go into Church… If I went to Mass, the roof would cave in.” – How often in your encounters with people, maybe students on your campus or maybe even family or friends have you heard that or a variation of it?
For those of us who make it into the walls of these various churches and have yet to see such an implosion of these sacred places by our presence, we’re jarred by those kinds of comments. Or even worse, someone who’s so plagued by darkness they say “I’m going to go to Hell…”
They’ve bought into the absolute lies:
That Satan is more powerful than God.
That death is more powerful than life.
That all that Jesus offers them, and all of us, couldn’t possibly be true
Before we think that those lies only affect those outside of this place, we can see, we know of how it also plagues us in here:
“I go to confession and I still repeat the same sins over and over… God’s gotta be tired of me, fed up.”
“I can’t do anything great – see what a mess I am, there’s so many people more talented, more holy than me”
“I can’t be a priest – or a religious…. I’m not holy enough or I’m not worthy enough…” (For this last example, if that’s something in your mind, please come talk to me – because I promise you that if God can work with this – He can certainly work with you…)
It’s amazing though in all of these instances, examples how we demonstrate how very little we know God, yet carry these sentiments that presume we know all that He thinks, He believes… Perhaps it’s our sinfulness that corrupts and affects our perceptions. Or maybe we’ve allowed fear and doubt to take up residence in our heart and run rent-free in our head.
Which is why today’s Gospel beautifully takes a sledge hammer to these cemented notions in our lives. You have to wonder, how long did the Centurion know about Jesus… (key word – about, not really know Him). How long did he hear Jesus preach? See His deeds? Witness the transformations in the lives of countless people because of Him? How long did the Centurion actually believe in Jesus but resisted? Wanted to follow, but KNEW (at least he thought he knew) that he couldn’t.
And so he remained in the distance. Longing for a moment with Jesus, but remaining trapped in these lies that seemed so true to him. All the while letting who he was, what he did alter his identity into being simply a Centurion, which was of some importance to the people of his time and age, but not especially impressive to Jesus.
But on this day, something was different. Here his Servant was PARALYZED, SUFFERING DREADFULLY. And the Centurion, for all his power, authority, connections was paralyzed from being able to do anything about it. And so his mind remembers Jesus and wonders… And his Heart drowns out those voices of doubt, fear… His Love and Concern for another opens the Centurion to think that maybe Jesus would love and have concern for Him as well.
The Centurion goes and Jesus is able to work miracles – The suffering and paralysis of the servant and the Centurion is healed.
Jesus leaves this open invitation to each of us as well. God’s calling each of us to a full, abundant, rich life. His designs, his dreams for us surpass what so many of us opt for, choose ourselves, believe that’s all we’re meant for. Our sinfulness or blindness seems to leave us paralyzed to move, to embrace that vision of His.
Jesus simply invites us to come with those doubts, to come with those fears, to come with that brokenness that wants to believe, but is scared or unsure. Even to the point that we become painfully aware that in a lot of ways, we share the Centurion’s estimation of ourselves – Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Jesus in his desire to share his love and healing says to us “Let me decide that…” as he steps under our roofs, comes inside and wishes to stay forever.