10 June, 2012

Homily for the First Sunday after Trinity (B - Way of Life) 2012


Churchy environment is full of buzzwords, catchphrases, fashionable ideas, and things that are “in” this season and may receive less attention in the next. It’s always been the case because people often shift their attention from one thing to another even in matters of religion. Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about stewardship of the planet; new monasticism; fresh expressions; and a revival of core concepts such as having a rule of life, being on a spiritual journey, and being a disciple.
 
In your “welcome pack” you got handed at the door this morning, you will find a little grey booklet called Way of life – A pattern for Christian living which is full of theological ideas and buzzwords in vogue at the moment. This is a diocesan initiative to invite each and every one of us to take our faith ever more seriously, and to consider more its impact in the way we live every day.
 
I can’t say that I agree with this booklet about everything, but I seriously do comment Way of life to you as an exercise in Christianity, and a way of discerning God’s will in your life.
I would like you to take it home with you, to read it and pray about it, and to consider taking on some of the suggestions found in it.
I have already done it, and I have here my copy with a few scribbles, gasps, questions marks, observations, and commitments dotted around.
 
I can’t express how much I would like you to consider Way of life.
Having said this, I would like to share with you a couple of observations.
 
The first one was prompted by the celebration on Thursday of Corpus Christi, the day of special thanksgiving and worship of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
On page 7 of Way of life you will find that the author calls the Eucharist “a” central part of Christian spirituality. I’m afraid this doesn’t quite do it for me; it is not really the right attitude to adopt towards the sacrament which shows the full extent of Our Lord Jesus’ love for us all (cf. John 13:1).
The central part of Christian spirituality” would seem more appropriate. Unfortunately, this doesn’t ring true with the compilers of your booklets, because they continue by saying, ‘this does not mean that any other act of worship [apart from the Eucharist] is second best’.
Well, I think it actually should. Every act of worship is good and definitely worth the effort, but not every act of worship is as important as the next.
 
When we participate to the Eucharist, we do not only approach the sacrifice of Calvary, we do not only bring the whole creation to the foot of the Cross, we do not only partake of Jesus’ blessed Body and Blood, we do not merely receive the greatest Sacrament and treasure of the Church, but we also come as close as we can possibly get here on earth to the unending life of the new Jerusalem, to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and the worship of heaven.
Now, compare this with other services and let’s see if they are all equal in importance.
 
The other observation I would like to share with you is about orienting our spiritual journey towards someplace of ultimate value. Way of life is inspired by the ancient pilgrimage tradition of this land, and by the accounts of the epic journeys of the Celtic saints; however, there isn’t even as little as a clue about the place where, as disciples of Christ, we should be heading to.
Sure enough, the booklet is structured around the all-important idea of Christian life as being a journey which includes different motions: upwards, inwards, outwards, and so on. But not much is said about where we are heading to, or even why we are called to grow the life of Christ within us.
Where is the assurance of the eternal life which awaits all of us within the Trinity?
Where is the idea of attaining the vision of God at the end of our days?
Where is the hope of ending this earthly journey at the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem?
 
And so you see that I too have my buzzwords, and cathcphrases which I like to use: orientation, vision of God, heavenly worship, and others. I am not pretending that these should overshadow the ones contained in Way of life, but I do hope that you will keep my observations in mind, and that you will explore this booklet in the coming weeks with openness to what God may be suggesting to you.
 
It is time that we took our spiritual life more seriously; that we carefully discerned God’s will for each of us; and that we become ever more faithful to committing our lives to his Church.
 
Jesus said, ‘Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’ (Mark 3:20).

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