The homily

3rd April 2020 - ‘You are gods’

Saint Irenaeus prays to God; “You have come down that we might rise up. You have become human that we might become divine.”

The thing I like about the Gospel today is that Jesus is using logic rather than faith and is answering the Jews using their own criteria. When they try to stone him to death, he says that he has done good works, not criminal acts. He asks them which of these good works are crimes worthy of execution. They say they are condemning him not for his good works but for his blasphemy, which is a capital offence: He says he is God. But Jesus does not refute this. He does not deny that he said it or deny that he is God, but says that their own scriptures support his statement. He says they cannot condemn him when their own scriptures say ‘You are gods.’ They have no basis for their condemnation. He is not saying they have to believe him or believe in him, they only have to follow their own scriptures. And he gives them specific evidence. He reminds them that he has performed miracles – no one else has done this. He says, if I don’t do God’s works, don’t believe in me. If I do God’s work (and he does), you still don’t have to believe in me, but you should recognize the work.

 

2nd April 2020 - What's in name?

God says that Abram will now be called Abraham.

In the biblical context a name-changing occurs when God gives a special mission to someone. The bible is filled with examples of this; a prime instance of this is the re-naming of the disciple, Peter. Originally called Cephas, Jesus changes his name to Peter (a name that means rock). Peter is to be the rock on which Jesus will build his new community of faith based the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (the paschal mystery).

We are the inheritors of that faith that is given to us through the newly-named Peter. We, too, have been given a new name when we were baptized into the person of Jesus Christ: into his life, death and resurrection. We enter the paschal mystery at baptism and are thus invited to live out our new life in Christ, the new name into which we are baptized.

We have been CHRIST-ed at baptism (whatever name our parents gave us). It means that we have been incorporated into the very person of Jesus whom we call the Christ. It means that we have been “missioned” to be another Christ. And if that sounds like an impossible task, it is -- for us on our own. But the truth is that we are not alone. By being “incorporated into Christ” we are surrounded by people of faith who continue to call us to the implications of our new name – as a Christ-ian.

 

1st April 2020 - The truth will make us free

What does this talk about “freedom from” and “freedom for” have to do with truth? The truth will make us free. And that truth is identified with living according to Jesus’ teaching. The eternal Word became flesh not to make things difficult, but to liberate us to be fully human. The paradox is that this freedom comes precisely from our tying ourselves to the strenuous and self-denying life of responding to God’s goodness by laying down our lives for one another. For in this Fourth Gospel Jesus doesn’t simply say to love our neighbor as ourselves, which is challenging enough in itself; but in John’s Gospel we hear Jesus take that to another level with his saying, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He said this after hunkering down and washing their feet. In that humble service lies full freedom.

 

31st March 2020 - Less is More

As I read through John’s Gospel for today, I could not help but think of the saying, “less is more.” Not because of the number of words that John uses, but because of a phrase Jesus uses. As Jesus explains to the Pharisees who he is, among a bit of context, he simply says, “I AM.” Jesus could have inserted any number of grandiose words to follow, but he doesn’t. That was all that was needed.

To me, there is comfort in the simplicity of, “I AM.” Maybe because the lack of words ironically means that Jesus is “everything”, “all there is”, and “the whole.” Maybe the greatest things do not come from grandiosity. Less really is more.

 

21 February 2020 - Friday of week 6 in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, I am reminded to listen fully to what Jesus has told us. We have to be willing to sacrifice and acknowledge our weaknesses and our worries and trust that God will help us get along and get through these weaknesses and worries. We are asked to live an authentic life which is unique to each of us and to not be consumed by what the world says we should or should not value. We are called to speak openly from our hearts about how the gift of faith, given to us, has influenced what we value and therefore who we are. God invites us to discern the answers to the Big Questions “Who Am I?” and “How does my faith and my relationship with God influence or determine my life choices?” by living an authentic life that is unique to me.

 
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