Homily for Lent V Year B

Some Greeks go up to Philip and say ‘Sir, we would like to see Jesus’. They approach a disciple with a Greek name, and though they are not Jews themselves, they try to follow the law and to worship God. They are good people with an innate sense of the religious and they have a simple request. They want to see Jesus. Nearly 2000 years later there are people who will ask the same question. 
What can be said to them? If they come to Mass on a Sunday morning, they will meet the Lord in Word and Sacrament. But they will also see Jesus in us Christians, who are the body of Christ, we too are to be his presence in the world. Everything we say, or think, or do can proclaim Christ and his saving love to the world. It is our duty as Christians to try at all times and in every way to model our lives on Christ’s, and our sharing in his passion, death, and resurrection, to form our lives so that they reflect his glory so that the world may believe. Every careless word and thoughtless action speaks to the world and says that we are hypocrites who do not practice what we preach. We are perhaps judged more harshly nowadays than at any time before; but we should nonetheless try with all the strength we can muster to live Christ’s life in the world.
          Now the hour has come for the son of man to be gloried’ Our Lord is looking towards his passion and death. In this God shows the world the fullness of divine glory, he gives the world the most profound expression of self-giving love in His Passion, in His death upon the Cross, and in His rising to new life. This is why we as Christians celebrate Our Lord’s Death and Resurrection: week by week and year by year. We prepare ourselves during Lent to walk with Christ to Calvary and beyond. We see how much God loves us, how much God gives himself for us: totally, completely, utterly. If we serve Jesus we must follow him, and where we are he will be too. In the midst of the troubles which beset the church, Christ is with us. When we are afraid or troubled, Christ is with us, he has felt the same feelings as us, and was given the strength to carry on. When the church is written off as an irrelevance, Christ is with us.
          When secularism appears strong, we should remember our Lord’s words: ‘now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown‘. The world and the Devil are overcome in Christ’s self giving love, when on the cross He pays the debt which we cannot, He offers us a new way of living a life filled with love, a love so strong as to overcome death, a love which offers us eternal life.
    
    So then as we continue our journey through Lent our journey to the cross and beyond to the empty tomb of Easter, let us lose our lives in love and service of Him who died for us, who bore our sins, who shows us how to live most fully, to be close to God, and filled with His love. Let us encourage one another, strengthen one another, and help each other to live lives which proclaim the truth of God’s saving love.
   All of us through our baptism share in Christ’s death and resurrection and we should proclaim this truth to the world. This truth, this way, this life, overcomes the world, turns its selfish values on their head. Together we can love and strengthen and encourage one another to do this together: to be Christ’s body in our love and service of one another, in our proclamation to the world that God loves all humanity and longs, like the father of the Prodigal Son, to embrace us, to welcome us back. And as we do this, growing in love and fellowship we will fulfil the will of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory dominion and power, now and forever…

Homily for Lent IV Year B

For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved.

 It is far too easy to see the church in a negative way. We can be characterised as strange, quaint, and out of touch. It suits people to see us as opposed to certain things. We are prescriptive, we limit people’s freedom, and failing to practice what we preach, we can be written off as hypocrites, with no right to proclaim objective truth, to offer the world a moral framework, within which to live its life; to offer the world an alternative paradigm, a new way of living and of being through which to have life, and have life in all its fullness.

This morning’s gospel reminds us of the fundamental truth that God loves us. In the incarnation Jesus comes among us as a poor helpless baby, laid to rest in the rough wood of an animals’ feeding trough. He is cared for through the love of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in her love, service, and obedience, stands as the model for all Christians. She is the first Christian, the greatest, a pattern for us to imitate, and a foreshadowing of our great mother the church.

Upon the rough wood of the cross, Jesus will suffer and die for us. His mother, Mary, stands by and watches and weeps. As the church we too should watch and weep for the wounds of sin and division which still scar Christ’s body. We should do all that we can to live God’s life of sacrificial self giving love: living lives of light, which shine in the darkness. The salvation and eternal life which Christ offers freely to all, comes through the church, which we enter in baptism, where we are nourished in word and are sacrament, given food for the journey, strengthened and taught, to live his risen life, to share in the joys of Easter.

God cares so much about the world and its people that he takes flesh, and lives a life of love, amidst the messiness of humanity, to show us how to live lives filled with love, life in all its fullness. Not to condemn the world but to offer it a way of being. God has made us for himself , and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him. The spiritual needs and searching which characterise people in the world around us, can be satisfied in God and in God alone, through the church.

We can rejoice, and relax our Lenten discipline for a little while to give thanks for the wonderful gift of God’s love in our lives, in the church, and for the world. But we also need to trust God, to listen to what he says through Scripture, to be fed by him, and to live lives in accordance with his will and purpose, together, as a family, as a community of love, cared for and supported by our mother, the church. And in so doing we look to our Lady as mother of our Lord and mother of the church, as a pattern for love and obedience, as a model for all mothers: loving and tender, putting the needs of others before self, self-giving, sacrificial, and open to both joy and pain.

This, as any mother can tell you, is not easy, it’s difficult, really hard, but its rewards are likewise great. So let us, as we continue our Lenten journey towards the cross, where God shows his love for us most fully and completely, giving his body to be broken and his blood be shed for us, a sacrifice which will be made present here today under the outward forms of bread and wine, to strengthen us to live the risen life of Easter, to offer the world and alternative to selfishness, to self-centredness, to the sin which continues to separate us from God, in a self-giving love of mothers, and of our mother the church. That we may join the Angels in our song of love and praise to the Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit, to whom bw ascribed as is right and just all might, majesty, glory, dominion, and power, now and forever