HOMILY – MARCH 26-27
A number of years ago, I began to feel more than frustrated when individuals or couples would call for an appointment for, as they put it, “counseling.” Sure, I had taken the required basic counseling courses in school, and at least — I think — gained from them enough awareness to inflict no further harm than the callers were already suffering. What was most frustrating, though, was that, precisely in their difficulties, so many seemed to be quite distant from the Church and all we represent. They were reaching out as to the last (and perhaps the least expensive?) resort when the problems had become so insurmountable that only Donald Trump or the Son of God himself could begin to help solve them. Since I didn’t have Donald Trump’s credit card handy, I would ask them how much they had prayed about their problem. I didn’t mean slapping the forehead in every other crisis and saying, “God help us!” I meant how much extended time they had devoted JUST to prayer, preferably how much time in church before the Blessed Sacrament. Truth be told, the honest answer most often was, “Not much.”
That’s why I began a rather consistent policy of asking that question of people up front when they called for an appointment. In other words, if you haven’t taken the time to spend at least several hours talking with or just BEING with your Creator and Lord in the Sacrament of his Real Presence in our midst, how exactly do you think I’M going to help you? At first it felt like a cop-out. After all, hadn’t I been ordained to solve all problems, heal all ills, mend all fences, dispel all worries? And in MY prayer, the answer came through loud and clear from the Lord: “No, you were ordained to send people to ME, not stop them at YOU.” It was then I realized that so often when Jesus performed a miracle, he told the person, “Your FAITH has saved you.” And that faith must be the active component in us if we are not to be defeated by life’s challenges.
We often hear people say things like, “Turn to the Lord in your troubles,” which kind of implies that we’ve been turned AWAY from him the rest of the time. If that’s the case, no wonder turning to him will take so much energy! When we are USED to being his friends and companions, walking in the radiance of his light every day, no TURNING is necessary. We’re already there, awash in the splendor of his light. And that brings us to the radiant light of our risen Lord in the mystery of the Eucharist.
So many to whom I’ve recommended spending time in adoration before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament have not returned for further advice. Some, I know, have found the answers that I could never have provided just by basking in the radiance of his risen glory. After all, the Lord remains with us in the Eucharist as our RISEN Lord, at ALL times, not just at Easter. And just like you have to turn on the light in a darkened room in order to find what you’re looking for, so you have to come in faith into the radiant glory of the Lord in order to discover the things he has to reveal to you. You’ll be surprised when it begins to happen. You might even wonder why on earth you ever went anywhere else looking for answers.
If none of this makes sense to you, if you’ve tried and “nothing happened,” remember this: When you turn on the light after being in darkness, it takes time for your eyes to adjust. The same thing is true of the soul. When you’ve been running around in your own dark night of the soul, or in the gloom of your own inner room, the brilliant light of our risen Lord might not at first be apparent to you. The one who made you and restored you for eternity and infinity humbles himself so that you can approach him, talk with him, walk with him. Moses had to remove his shoes in the presence of the burning bush. Peter, James, and John could not speak of the Transfiguration until after the Resurrection — they didn’t have words to describe what they had seen. And no one actually witnessed the divine energy of the moment of the Resurrection, which burst the earth open from within as the Savior emerged in his glorified Body. Locked doors and walls were no longer a barrier for him, but it was REALLY HIM. Really his wounds, really his personality, really his memory of experiences they had shared together, and really his divine mercy and mirth to cure even the bitter guilt of denial with the love which Peter would be led to confess.
The Eucharist might seem, to the naked eye, static, unmoving and unmoved. But there is in the Blessed Sacrament the divine, dynamic energy of the Resurrection, which has been the strength of martyrs, the driving force of missionaries, and the food of the Church for nearly two thousand years. We who gather for the nourishment of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, WE are the witnesses to his Resurrection. What could not be seen by any mortal eye at the moment when the tomb could no longer contain the One who had created the very earth — that fact, that event, that risen Lord is the one whose witnesses we are, every time we gather for the breaking of the bread, every time we drink the cup of salvation, every time we approach him in the quiet and stillness of adoration. And indeed, every time we proclaim his love, perform his works of mercy, and pass on the Good News of redemption and salvation, we are declaring ourselves and showing ourselves to be his Eucharistic and Easter people.
Now a word for all of us, but especially for those who are coming for baptism and confirmation tonight: When we are baptized, it might look like we’re plunging into and being bathed in water, but we are also being bathed in LIGHT, the radiant light of the risen Lord. In a week or two, many of us will have friends returning from Florida or other parts south. You know how you can almost feel the warmth of the Florida sun when you see their glow! That’s how we the baptized have to be in the midst of the world — aglow with the risen Lord! The world can’t admit it, but it needs and longs for the light of that Living Flame of the Resurrection. United to the risen Christ, WE are the light of the world. Like the new fire of Easter from which our candle has received its flame, WE are the living torches of the fire of God’s Word and God’s love. The world’s got to see our shine, and through us experience the warmth of God’s light and love — so BURN, BABY, BURN !!