Hello everyone... Greetings from Rome, where we've now been joined by about 40 pilgrims from all over the United States. Here's my homily for Saturday June 27, 2015 Mass at Sant’Ignazio - the readings for the day can be found at the www.usccb.org website (just select the calendar for June 27).
Thanks for reading and your prayers... Keeping all your intentions in mine as well - God Bless, Fr Jim
Welcome to Rome - Welcome to the Eternal City - the City of St. Peter and Paul...
We give thanks to God that we’ve all made it here safely (hopefully soundly). We’ve come not just to sightsee, not simply for a trip - or a vacation (although this time might count for all of those things in your books or at least your checkbooks) but we’re here for something even more - for a pilgrimage. We have come to Rome and will journey to Assisi to experience these holy places - where holy things took place; where people made choices, decisions, significant steps to become holy as they encountered, gave witness, sacrificed - gave their lives to Jesus Christ – some through martyrdom, some through similarly radical means where they laid down their lives, their desires, their needs in service to Jesus Christ, His Church, & His people...
So for us, it’s good to keep that in mind: that this is our purpose:
- because as wonderful as these spectacular sights are that we are going to visit these next 8 days; - as tremendous as the foods we will enjoy;
- as memorable the week will be as we share this time together as fellow pilgrims who’ve come together because of all the great work Lino has done with the Catholic Guy Show
- the ultimate purpose for us is to come to know, come to Love the Lord Jesus Christ better and deeper - in a different way then we’ve ever done before... Different from any retreat, or class, or involvement we’ve had with the Church.
It’s important for us to keep that in mind each day, each step we make and to ask ourselves... What is it that the Lord want to show you, do for you, reveal to you that’s going to change your relationship and draw you closer to Him? Because the reality is haven’t we all have come with prayers, intentions on our hearts? Who is ill that you’ve said you will pray for? Who has passed away that you want to remember? What painful situation or difficult bind is someone close to you going through that you don’t know what to say let alone do to help them? What is it in your own lives that sometimes keeps you up at night?
Sometimes when we travel far from home like this and in our wonderment and awe of the whole thing we see this or look at it as a diversion from all of those things that we label in some general category in our minds as “our worries.”
Yet the reality is that the Lord wants to speak into it. He will speak to it throughout this week and in different and varied ways... At this our first step, our first Mass together, what is He saying to us today in these scriptures ?
I have to admit, that first reading, when the line was read: “So Sarah laughed to herself and said Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?” - knowing Lino is in the congregation with fellow listeners I was half waiting for him to interrupt with a “Hey–oh”. That’s why I need to read and pray with these things in advance because it doesn’t take too much for the train to get derailed in my own head!
But the whole point of that story from Genesis is really summed up by what God says to Abraham a few moments later - after telling him he heard Sarah laughing (and in his own divine way God asking Abraham “What’s up with that?”) the Lord puts a more profound and beautiful question to Abraham - and to you and I to reflect on: Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?
Sarah and Abraham had for a long time been saddened by the fact they were unable to have children of their own. That was a tremendous pain, a seemingly unanswered prayer, an intention that they had carried that they sadly accepted as simply not going to happen. Yet God in a mysterious, unexpected and yes marvelous manner reveals that He has not forgotten; He has not ignored; and in His time and in His way responded to that prayer... and He asks Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?
Similarly in the Gospel, the Centurion - a Roman - supposedly one who has placed his life at the service of Rome and would view Ceasar as his god – this Centurion appeals to the God of Abraham through the Son of God, Jesus as he begs for his servant who is suffering and near death. That humility – to acknowledge that what had been the divine authority in his life couldn’t address his need - opened him to acknowledge, believe and trust in Jesus... Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?
As we enter into this pilgrimage - through the amazing beauty of these sights, the awe-inspiring stories and witnesses of our brothers and sisters in the faith - Hopefully what we will find is how God encounters each us in various, mysterious ways... Different things will hit us, speak to us in personal ways. All that the Lord is asking from us is an openness to Him. Trusting that He is responding to everyone of our prayers, our worries, our intentions - when we go with that loving trust that a sincere heartfelt prayer gives life to. So whenever you have that “aha moment” - when something moves your heart to skip a beat - when you have a new insight or find tears coming inexplicably just ask yourself - Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?
If we allow Jesus (who desperately is waiting for our invitation) to “enter under our roofs”; we’ll be able to answer that question with deep certitude - No... nothing at all...