Luke 11: 47-54 The Charge!
Whenever I give a homily (or a talk) to an unknown audience I am always concerned that I will be interpreted as being too harsh or too “in your face.” But my goal is always to speak the truth and share the truth with those around me. And of course it is not my truth, but Christ’s truth. That is, Christ himself.
Last night I celebrated Mass for over 200 young students. They were excited about starting a new year and starting High School. I focused on harmony: living together; being a family; making friends; loving one another; and committing oneself to the Lord. I asked them, “How will you be remembered? What will your classmates say about you four years from now, ten years from now?”
After Mass, I was greeted with a very warm reception. The Lord’s message had been relayed effectively and positively. “The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” I looked at them and they looked at me. I told them what would become the meat and potatoes of my homily. Later on, most of the students remarked that the point that struck them the most was refusing to be mastered by sin. I too could tell that the message had been delivered well. I told them what all of you who follow my meditations know. I told them the following:
Beware of the greatest temptation that all of us face on a daily basis: to fight evil with evil. You hate me, I hate you. You hurt me, I hurt you. You’re mean to me; I will be mean to you. You don’t love me, I won’t love you. When we are teenagers we call this bullying. As adults, we call it harassment. In the global community, we call it war. This cycle is truly evil because I become the person I hate! Christians cannot fight like this. We fight like Christ: Love your enemies and pray for them. People may drag me all the way to the gates of Hell, but they cannot open the gates for me. Only I can decide to hate and only I can refuse to hate! Refuse to be evil! Never forget in whose image you were created in. If you forget God, then you will forget who you are. If you forget what God did for you, then you will never know what to do. You will end up hating yourself and eventually everyone around you. You will prefer to take your life (or someone else’s) rather than to lay it down. The difference is as vast has Hell and Heaven.
I left Mass wondering if the message was too negative. I left the evening knowing it was much appreciated. “Your word, O Lord, forever stands firm in the heavens: your truth lasts from age to age, like the earth you created” (Ps 119:1).
The challenges we face are always the same. Will I give the Lord today or myself? Will I share the word of God or my words? Will I live my life or Christ’s life through me? Will I be a shooting star that quickly appears and fades away, or a star that shines in the dark, points to the Way and leads us to Him? He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). This generation is in charge of leading today’s flock and will be charged by the Lord according to his standards. Let us ask the Lord for faith and courage so that he may never be ashamed of those who take his name!