Homily for Opening Mass – Spring 2012
How ironic as we begin this new semester, this new opportunity for growth in the Spirit and in the community, in our identity as ministers of the Gospel …
How ironic that we should find Jesus, the mighty God, at a loss. We are told: He was not able to perform any might deed there. In many ways, Jesus finds himself in his own hometown in the Davidic bind that haunts our first reading. Which option should David take when none seems appealing, certainly none seems popular.
Yet, in spite of the negative situations presented in both readings, there is also the necessity of moving on. Brothers and sisters, that is where we are. Moving on.
In our lives so often we find ourselves saddled with difficulties that we never asked for, never expected. Sometimes these have to do with our families, or our past relationships, or even the very core of our being. There is no doubt that often these situations present us with something important, even critical to address.
And yet the voice of the Lord encourages us to be moving on.
In our lives we know what pain and heartache are, we know what loss is, we know what it is to experience brothers in this community that move away from us.
And still the admonishment of the Lord is to be moving on
In our lives we understand the sting of ending, even in these days of beginning. Within the husk of this new year there is already the seed of decay and death.
And there is no doubt that the voice of God is lifted to us, impelling us to be moving on.
In our lives we can get caught sometimes rather decisively in the web of our own insecurities, our fears, our doubts, our misgivings, our failures. Move on the Lord says, Move on
How can it not be so? How can it not be necessary?
We must move on because that is what Jesus did. That is what our Lord did. Confronted by enemies he moved on. Stifled by the expectations of his family. He moved on. Held back by hometown fears or a lack of acceptance of the message. Shake the dust from your feet. Move on.
We know what that means if we have ever had to confront rejection, despondency, an inability to resign oneself to the call of Christ. We know what it is to receive this summons from the Lord. How can we not know it if there is an ounce of evangelical spirit in us?
And what do we receive in this seminary?
Can there be any doubt that we receive the necessity to pray, the necessity to form lasting relationships, the necessity of study to improve our minds in light of God’s great gift, the necessity of drawing closer to our Church, closer to its teachings, closer and closer to its great truths that it still preach for a world immured in the false luxury of relativism.
Can we not hear in the daily announcement of our Church, of our lives, of our formation here the great necessity to keep going, to keep moving, to move on?
What do we receive in the life of ministry that God has so graciously given us? We witness new birth, the joy inherent in the cries of infants at the font. We witness new life gained in the quiet corners of confessionals and reconciliation rooms, we witness renewal in the daily reception of the body and blood of the Lord in the sacrament of renewal, we witness regeneration in the sacrament of the sick, relationship in the sacrament of matrimony, reconfiguration in the sacrament of Holy Orders. In all of these cycles of life, of birth and death, sickness and revival we bear witness to the desire, the need to move on and to be alive.
What do we have in this celebration of the Eucharist?
We have Christ himself, the Christ that calls out to us in the form of bread and wine, the Christ that keeps calling out through the din of our lack of faith, the Christ that pushes, guides, inflames our hearts with the desperation to move on.
And so we move upward and upward in a never ending hopefulness, gratefulness, fullness, blessing and we discover in our lives that the truth of discipleship, the Truth predicted by David and the prophets of old, the Truth professed by the Truth himself is simply this: We must keep moving, we must keep progressing, we must keep stepping forward and finding in our paths the encouragement of the one so rich in grace and mercy that he moved on
He moved on past the inglorious birth we have so recently remembered, the birth of the Prince of Peace as a poor child of poor parents in a poor stable, moved on to the dusty roads of his ministry to an often uncaring, unfeeling hometown crowd that is us
He moved on past resentment, the resentment of those so close to him and yet so far in understanding, so near to him in fellow feeling and yet so distant in the escathon
Past the hurts that fill all lives, the misplaced ideals and motives, the slights, the rejection
Past the misunderstanding
Past the cross and its infamy an infamy that we will never feel, although our lives as disciples may be filled to the brim with desperation and loneliness and social upheaval
He moved on to the cross, on to the passion, on to the infamy to what? to the glory of the resurrection and so shall we.
Brothers and sisters we stand today on the threshold of another semester of formation. We stand today in the path of illumination, in the hemisphere of possibility. Do we need to know what all of this means? Or do we need to know that the One who is true has called us. He has called us and instilled in our hearts, our minds, our limbs the endless desire to move toward glory.
He calls us in the drama and mendacity of our daily lives
He calls us in the person of men and women, children, all of those whom we serve and who serve us more profoundly
He calls us in our triumphs and in our disappointments
He calls us, not gross characters of seminarians, priests, religious, lay faithful
He calls us to this altar, to this celebration ,to this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we are renewed, where we are made whole, where we are brought back to life from the very precipice of death and fortunate are we, fortunate indeed are we to be called to the supper of the Lamb.