Homily of 15th April 2015
Acts 3:13-15,17-19;1 John 2:1-5a;Luke 24:35–48
We all have an awesome role to play in the Church. And all the stories in the Acts of the Apostles, today St. Peter’s eloquent sermon, has positioned us in the marvelous continuity of the work of God from Abraham to Isaac and Jacob to Jesus, and God has lead us through our Baptismal life to be sharers in the Christ event. Our role is to preach Christ to the world.
Every Easter we renew our baptismal life commitment. We name again our promise to live Christ, to be for one another in his name. In this way we take on the preaching task, and it is our way of living out our time of mystagogy, the unfolding and deepening of our understanding of who Christ is for us.
We heard the whole story in miniature on Wednesday in John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but might have eternal life.” And when we live the truth of Christ, we indeed come to life.
The whole struggle today is the balance between our faith and our challenging human experience that requires each person to find their way to live Christ as they can with the life they have. And with your personal call to faithfulness. Former President Jimmy Carter wrote a new book, Faith: A Journey for All. He writes that the point of the book is to explore the broader meaning of faith and the far-reaching effects in our lives and its relationship to past, present and future events in American and the world. We must always make this connection with faith and obvious realities of our life.
This leads us to the truth of our constant need for conversion. Peter calls
the people of Jerusalem to conversion. Jesus commissions his disciples to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name to all the nations. Jesus’ commission to his disciples includes us, because faith leads not only to a set of beliefs but to community, identity and meaning. This call to repentance and conversion is truly the continuity with the whole story of creation and of salvation.
We know in a personal way that we need Christ’s word to us. We sin. We often live in this discontinuity with our life in Christ. Pope Francis in his new exhortation on holiness tells us the Christian life is a constant battle. He writes, “We need the strength and courage to withstand temptations and to proclaim the Gospel.” Then today in 1 John we are reminded that – Jesus is the way to keep ourselves on track, even if we fall again into sin – just keep his word – love one another.
Just look at our society. We are losing more and more of Jesus’ way. There seems to be no boundaries when it comes to disparaging others, whether it is their race, creed or gender. Lack of reverence for each person is gaining ground. So more than ever, our world needs to hear the message that there is a remedy – Jesus, the Risen One is the way – repent and be converted.
How else can we recreate our hearts and our minds to respond with love as our first response not an after-thought. It seems our society has moved so far from respect as a norm. It feels like it just happened overnight, we don’t even see sometimes how awful this is and what it’s doing to our world. Today’s scripture focuses our response to all this. Peter following Jesus preaches repentance as the way forward.
Repentance is a change of intention, a generous and total conversion. So true repentance moves us in another direction. Living our baptismal reality is the new direction, it’s living Christ here and now. We’ve been hearing every day at mass how the first Christians lived Christ in community. They were for one another, what an identity, what a meaningful life, to live and to be called Christian. That means we belong to Christ. President Carter goes on to say in his book, when human laws are contrary to God’s, look to Jesus and his disciples and take action.
How do we rally together again with such vigor, such intention, with such focus?
It’s coming to have our own experience of the Risen Christ. Luke’s gospel gives us a hint of where to go, “The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
Remember the story of Emmaus. They had the experience of walking along with Jesus who was reflecting on the scriptures that pertained to his life as Messiah, they realized later how much their hearts were burning and then they had the experience of Christ at the breaking of the Bread. The Pope writes in his exhortation, “At its core, holiness is experiencing, in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life. It consists in uniting ourselves to the Lord’s death and resurrection in a unique and personal way, constantly dying and arising anew with Him.” The contemplation of these mysteries leads us to incarnate them in our choices and attitudes.
Origen’s commentary at vigils reading this week named the three-fold pattern of the dying and rising with Christ. 1. Acknowledging our faith in Christ, 2. Putting to death our passions, and 3. Proclaiming Christ by our new way of life. That’s our ongoing repentance and conversion.
Eucharist is the sharing in the dying and rising of Christ. We offer ourselves with Christ as our sacrifice of Praise to the Father. This is the total self-offering we seek.
So, our daily Eucharist can truly help us stay focused, especially when we are struggling between our continuity and discontinuity, when we just can’t seem to get it together, realizing that our faults and temptations and perceived needs have more control over us then we really want to believe.
But we can get back to the truth of Christ, to our true identity. It’s entering into the mystery again and again, with Christ, of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness and Christ’s profound and total response to this love.
The Risen Christ is present to us in the Eucharistic experience, in His body and blood and in the community gathered around the altar.
Brothers and Sisters, be an offering of love to the Father with Christ.
Live in the continuity of love and compassion, of justice and forgiveness as the Christian community is called to do. And then we are showing forth Christ’s love in the world.
What a sermon we can preach, again and again.