GOD WANTS TO STAY HERE???
Hi everyone - here’s my homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 9, 2010. The readings for the day can be found at http://www.usccb.org/nab/050910.shtml. Thanks as always for reading and your feedback! God Bless, Father Jim
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
Part of me reading those words thinks, “of all the dives and dumps for God to come visit – let alone want to stay and make a dwelling – meaning he’s more than just stopping by for a weekend guest... this place wouldn’t seem to be high on his list to even want to stay.”
I mean, was this the best that the Priceline negotiator could come up with for God? I kind of imagine that episode of the television show Seinfeld where Jerry and Elaine are getting on an airplane. You know the one when Jerry make’s Elaine sit in coach while he takes the first-class seat arguing to her that since she’s never sat in First Class she wouldn’t know what she was missing; while he could never sit in coach after having been in first class many times before. I’m thinking that from all we’ve ever heard about Heaven it’s gotta be like a 5 star resort. So why would God, the owner of such a place want to stop by this, at best 2 star motel?
It’s amazing that for some of us, it’s easier to believe the incredible, miraculous, foundation of our faith that Jesus’ died on a cross and then rose from the dead in a new glorified body three days later on Easter Sunday than we can ever believe this good news... No this tremendously good news... That God is that interested in us, thinks this highly of us that he’s not keeping tabs on us with a giant excel sheet with our names on it with a score card of sins-vs-good deeds on it to see how we stack up in the end. No, God wants to make a dwelling within us.
It is that truth, whether we recognize it or not, that pulls us here each week around this altar to hear these words that are addressed directly to each one of us. Each week we come to physically receive Jesus body and blood in this Eucharist. In his word and in the Eucharist, Jesus keeps knocking on the doors of our hearts, and comes in for a time. Yet we seem to rush him out the door as we rush out the doors of this place.
Thanks for stopping - see you soon. Maybe we don’t say those words, but we might as well, because that’s what we seem to do. Because in order for God to make His dwelling with us – that involves more than just our recognizing the desire for that to happen, it requires a choice. We have to choose to welcome Him in. We have to invite him to stay with us. We have to want Him to make a dwelling place within us.
And the Gospel tells us that we do that when we choose to love Him, when we choose to keep His word... when we choose to make those hard choices, those somewhat difficult decisions to turn away from sin and to turn towards the Gospel.
People often shut down when they hear things like this, saying to themselves “yeah but that means I can’t do whatever I want to do.” It’s amazing how the evil one can trick our minds. Because the reality is yes, we can do whatever we want. That’s what makes this a loving decision, is that we’re freely choosing to Love God first, to listen to Him, to let Him make his dwelling place with us. Yes, making that choice to Love God means saying “no” to other choices, it affects other decisions, it even means we have to face down and reject many other temptations that are out there which we seem to make allowances or justifications for. Those things that we try to say to ourselves - yeah, we love God, but we are uncomfortable with Him dwelling with us because we still want to be able to sin, that’s what we meant by saying we want to do whatever we want to do.
It’s no wonder then that we can think so poorly of ourselves. Imagining ourselves as some 2-star divey, dirty flea bags motel unfit for God to visit, let alone stay at. Yet Easter is meant not to be a historic event from 2,000 years ago that we recall. It is a present day reality that dares us to imagine a world - our world truly transformed by the Love of God. The first Easter did what was unimaginable in raising a dead man to a new glorious eternal life. Will we choose to let this Easter raise us up to a new, glorious life - creating that place where God restores us to the 5 star resorts he imagined us at the start of creation, and still desires to dwell in today?
Posted by Fr. Jim Chern