Wow a lot of Sundays in Ordinary Time have passed since I last blogged. To account for them, one was Deacon Tom preaching, one was vacation and one was my cousin’s wedding. This homily is a little parish specific but I did not want to stay out of practice too long!
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” What a thrilling promise Jesus makes. Sure it would have been convenient to know about this before Saratoga closed and we could have agreed about a horse, but it is still thrilling! The idea that I and at least one other believer can pray together to build the kingdom of God, and it will be granted. That is indeed, the only way the kingdom is built, by believers hearing the Word, praying that Word and acting on that Word.
Jesus also makes an equally startling promise. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Imagine just one other person here. Someone you know or maybe have never met, but if you are gathered in the name of Jesus, you bring Christ’s presence with you. Such is the power of community. Imagine just one other person gathered in the name of the Lord and the Word of God is spread, God’s peace becomes a reality and God’s healing comes among us.
To whom shall we go? Knowing that all it takes are one or two others to bring Christ to someone, to whom shall we bestow this gift? How about to the loneliest person you know? The loneliest person you know is probably the one who feels unheard; who has no to tell their story to. What if, you and another believer accompanied the loneliest person and heard their story? How Jesus’ presence would grow as saw the dignity of one of his little ones uplifted by two people who came in his name.
How about going to the one who is yearning for an experience of God. The one who is missing something in their life and just can’t put a finger on it. What if you and someone else spent time with them? Jesus would be right there! Jesus would not have to be pushed on anyone, but his very presence would be announced in how we care and extend ourselves for one another.
What if we went as believers to the one who is hurting; to the one who is sick? As I have seen hundreds of times in hospitals and homes, the magic of touch, the laying on of hands is sharing the most profound presence of Christ. Our communal prayer is often the comfort that brings healing and the bridge to eternal life.
Our theme chosen by the Pastoral Council for the parish this year is to make me a channel of your peace. That of course is Bishop Scharfenberger’s episcopal motto. And you might say, are you just trying to get in good with the new Bishop? Err… umm… so what? Sure we are. But imagine all of us uniting with our chief shepherd and truly becoming a channel of peace. Imagine where the current of Christ’s love will take us? And it only takes two or three of us gathered in his name.
For there are cauldrons of hate and envy in our world and our families that need the cooling of a channel of peace. There are deserts of injustice, poverty and hunger that need a channel of peace to bring life. There are thirsting souls waiting to be quenched by the presence of Christ.
So how you may ask, can we here at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish be channels of peace, Fr. Bob? I am glad you asked. I have five suggestions. First, go to the picnic. How can two or three be gathered if we do not know anyone. Christ will be truly present when we gather for fellowship; when we spend time with our community. These are important people in your life, for they live with you, believe like you and pray with you. So come and meet exciting people from exotic places like the 4:30 mass and see who we are as the Body of Christ.
Be a channel of peace to our young people in youth ministry. We are still looking for a couple of catechists to serve. I was thinking the last formal religious training many of our young people will receive is in youth ministry. Tell the story that makes a difference in your life and Christ will be present in that classroom. We are not looking for brilliant theologians, but people who will share a story of what brings hope to their life. Let a channel of peace flow from catechist to young person. I promise you it will be returned.
How about that river of peace touching that person who is yearning and missing something. The person who has been away from the Church or the person who has never really had a relationship with Christ. Let us be a channel of peace not by imposing our faith, but by gentle invitation. Only Catholics think it is rude to let someone know what is precious in your life and how they might share it with a friend. Besides, it is not you that you offer will make a difference but the Christ present in you and the Christ present in the wonderful communities formed by our Landings team for returning Catholics and our RCIA team for those pursuing the sacraments of initiation.
And if you really want to be a channel of peace, if you really want to sense the presence of Christ, spend some time in our little miracle of our school. We need your prayers for we are in the process of looking for a new Principal. In the last five years, we have grown from 140 students to 340 students. We are a true melting pot of race, languages and creed. We have inspiring teachers and strive for academic excellence in a safe environment. But just walk down any hallway and you will know the difference is that Christ is abundantly present – in every smile and in every prayer.
And in the next couple of weeks you will be hearing about a program called Family Promise. Did you know that most homeless families must be broken up to find shelter with the fathers going to a men’s shelter and the women and children to another. You would think homelessness would be enough of a burden without separating families. That is why we have committed to Family Promise. Two times a year for a week, on our Church grounds, we will host a family. It will take more than two or three of us to form a channel of peace that allows a family to be a family. But imagine how vivid the experience of Christ will be for surely we will be hosting the holy family.
All these ways and a myriad of others done in and through our parish will create channels of peace wide enough for the desert to bloom and thirsts to be quenched. Jesus said where two or three are gathered, there am I in the midst of them. My question to you: how present will Christ be when our two thousand families unite in sharing him?