Browsing Homilies

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ez 18:25-28 | Ps 25 | Phil 2:1-11 | Mt 21:28-32

Besides the Bible, a book that has been most popular among Christians has been The Imitation of Christ, a Christian devotional book first composed in Medieval Latin. It’s a devotional text, divided into four books of detailed spiritual instructions, and it emphasizes devotion to the Eucharist as a key element of the spiritual life. Especially, within these years of Eucharistic Revival, if you have not read it, then maybe put it on your reading list. It really is a “must read” for every Christian.

The genius of the book is in its title: The Imitation of Christ. That simple title captures the essence of the Christian life. We are all called to imitate Christ. Whether we are single, married, consecrated religious, or ordained; children or adults—all of us by virtue of our baptism, have the same mission: to be another Christ in this world.

Saint Francis put it this way: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” As followers of Jesus, we have one job—to bring the love of Christ with us wherever we go. To love others as he has loved us, and as he has commanded us.

That is what Saint Paul is driving at in today’s second reading when he says, “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.” We’re not only meant to act like Jesus, but also to think as he did. Everything we do, every thought we think, every word we speak, is meant to reflect the love of Jesus Christ.

This weekend’s gospel passage highlights the repentance of a son who changed his mind and obeyed his father. This is the way of Jesus. He wants a total renovation of our lives. He wants us to get to the roots of our sin and dysfunction, addressing not just the symptoms but the deep causes.

Perhaps your relational life or sexual life are dysfunctional; Jesus wants to root out the problem, not just change the behavior. Maybe your professional life has become tainted by sin; Jesus wants to cut to the roots of it, in your pride or your fear or your ambition. There could be a pattern of violence in your behavior; Christ wants to get to the envy or the greed that lies behind it.

Change your heart and turn to God.

To do that, we have to walk in here every time with the conviction that we’re going to encounter the presence of the Living God: to understand that Christ is really present in the ministers of the Church; that Christ is really present in the Word proclaimed; that Christ is really present in the people gathered in prayer and song; and that Christ is really present in the sacraments celebrated, especially the Eucharist.

We encounter the presence of the Living God, and how can we not be changed by that? Why so very often do we return to previous ways and unhealthy behavior?

If you and I walk in here with the conviction that God is going to speak to our lives, that God is going to touch my life, that God is going to strengthen me, that God is going to heal me, that God is going to stretch me—how can we not but walk out different in some way?

The encounter is supposed to change everything. We cannot be who we were before. This is supposed to be ritually signified in the Communion procession: where we come to this encounter with the presence of God’s own life in our consuming of the Eucharistic species. We leave behind our lives! We get up from our pew and we leave behind the past, in order to come into a renewed intimate awareness of the gift of God’s life dwelling in our lives. And we go back to our pews changed!

It is an encounter. And every encounter with God is disruptive, dangerous, and demanding. Every celebration of the Eucharist is meant to disrupt us, because somewhere in the midst of it all, God’s asking something more from our lives.

Every celebration is dangerous, because with the revelation of God’s presence we cannot live life the way that we have in the past. There is always “the more” that God is calling us to.

And every celebration is demanding. Mass always leads to mission. It’s never about staying on the mountaintop and saying, “Isn’t this wonderful?” Instead, it is about carrying the presence of God out into the world: into our families, relationships, offices, neighborhoods, into the poor and those who find themselves in need.

Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.


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