Homily – Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
We gather this Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the blessed time of Lent. We would, commonly, be pondering a traditional question for this time. What am I giving up for Lent?? The question is well worth our consideration if we want to better experience the holy graces God longs to share during this time. But let’s take to heart the Word of God this Sunday as we seek to renew our hearts in God. Let us realize God longs for us not to just “give up” but… to be..to become far more.
The true Christian life is infinitely more than learning and just heeding a series of…DON’TS. Indeed there are clearly things, sins that we are NOT to be in our life, if we are sincere in our longing for God. But, sadly, sometimes our focus on the negative has led to a neglect and loss of the greater positive truth that is Jesus. This season of Lent can bring us a power-filled awakening in that which God has created, called and redeemed us …TO BE.
BE PERFECT! Our Gospel reading today from the Sermon on the Mount brings us these extraordinary Words of Jesus. “BE PERFECT…AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT”! Is God setting us up for failure? Is Jesus calling us to the impossible? The temptation can be very strong to explain, minimize or simply read on to something perhaps more realistic. But, as always, IF we are but willing to humbly listen to Jesus we would realize He is simply calling us to BE…to BECOME that person, in God we are redeemed to be. PERFECT! Impossible? No, not if we listen to the word used in the Greek, ”telios”..BE PERFECT…BE COMPLETE..BE OF FULL AGE..MATURE! In other words Jesus is calling his disciples, calling us to “GROW UP” in the fullness of the Father! Let’s now explore two ways, from our readings, as God would help us realize where we should be GROWING this season of Lent, and eternally.
BE HOLY! The Holy Spirit, through Moses, in our Old Testament reading shares in a concise eloquence the words…BE HOLY! Again we can look to the ancient language, the Hebrew, to better experience this essential word. “Be sacred,, set part, clean, wholly..”. This essential grace for the true Christian is eternally more than a set sort of attire, Mass attendance or prayers. Those each may partially express aspects of an holy life. But true holiness is a matter of HEART and LIFE. To BE HOLY is to be encountering and sharing the infinite majestic power, beauty and power that are all expressions of God. Words, alone, can never proclaim the beauty of God’s holiness. And true holiness can be hidden by misunderstanding, ignorance, by sin. But it is as we allow our hearts to grow with God that Jesus will reveal to us the beauty and joy of true holiness. To grow in true holiness is to grow in God…who is LOVE.
BE LOVING! Both the first reading and the Gospel emphasize the eternal necessity that we are to be growing in LOVE..In God. Moses stated clearly that we are not to hate but to love our neighbor. But Jesus on this new mountain commands us to be even more..LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS AND ENEMIES! It would have been priceless to see the faces of His disciples as Jesus proclaimed these words. Jesus calls, commands, us simply, clearly to love as He does. It is inevitable that if we continue to follow Jesus the exposure to He who is Love will reveal to us our sins, failures that would damage, destroy that beauty of holiness and the completeness He has created us to be. Jesus will bring us to GROW UP in the perfect completeness..maturity we are made for.
This Sunday we are preparing for the holy opportunities of Lent. Yes there may be that which God would lead us to “give up”. But more importantly let us, together GROW UP to into the PERFECT COMPLETENESS, of His HOLINESS AND LOVE. ✠