Homily – 4th Sunday of Easter

Homily – 4th Sunday of Easter
When I was young I used to hear God’s voice very clearly when I prayed. I remember when I was 15, I asked God what he wanted me to do with my life and very clearly I heard him say “I want you to be a priest.” I was shocked and horrified and I refused. I thought I couldn’t be happy. Ever since that day it has been very difficult to hear God’s voice in my prayer life as clearly as I did then. You might say my refusal to hear caused me to be spiritually deaf or hard of hearing. So with the help of my spiritual directors I have learned sign language. I trust when I see patterns over and over in my spiritual life that God is leading me in a certain direction. These spiritual patterns are what caused me to give the homily I did on appropriate dress last week. It kept coming up over and over in my prayer life and conversations. This week I look at our responsorial psalm and I see it is the same one we use in the blessing of the farms I have been giving. I see the pattern and I pay attention. God is speaking to me.
Our second reading today says “They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (special note to St. Joseph’s here)
Very clearly I see God speaking of Worship and the Heavenly Liturgy. It matches everything in my prayer life and my spiritual reading. Worthy is the Lamb. The Lamb needs to be the center and we need to worship him in his Temple. God’s word says that he will shepherd us and lead us to springs of life-giving water and then every tear will be wiped away.
In the Gospel “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life. So God is telling us that if we follow him, if we are obedient then everything else falls in to place.” Then I wonder, How can being obedient to the Church’s liturgy bring us peace, happiness and life. Does it really matter that much if we follow the rules or if we make them up as we go along?
Then I remembered what we were taught in seminary: Lex orandi, lex credendi. As we pray, so we believe. The way we pray and worship affects what we believe. If we don’t worship then belief fails. If we treat worship and prayer casually then we will treat our faith casually, If the Sacred ceases to be sacred, set apart, special, and holy then our beliefs will become secular. If we are willing to follow every fad in the way we worship and cast out our heritage of 2000 years then we will be willing to cast out our traditional beliefs as well. Living together is okay, abortion is a legitimate choice, marriages aren’t permanent, or marriage doesn’t have to be between a man and a woman.
It might seem like a stretch but I don’t believe so. I believe the wisdom of the Church that has stood the test of time for 2000 years. Lex orandi, Lex Credendi. As we pray so shall we believe. Why else would the Vatican release a huge document on liturgical abuses and the seriousness of them if they weren’t serious? Why bother spending the time if it wasn’t important?
That document says in paragraph 11: The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured”. On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free reign to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved, and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today.
It goes on to say in Paragraph 12: , it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms. Likewise, the Catholic people have the right that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium.
I clearly see a call to be faithful to Church’s liturgical law. If I do not then I deny you something that is rightfully yours. I do damage to you. Because if we do not pray and worship as the Catholic Church says then our beliefs will cease to be Catholic as well.
Many parents have lamented the fact that their children left home and left the faith. I lament that as well. If our children really understood what goes on at Mass they wouldn’t leave. If they really understood that Christ is truly, physically present in the Eucharist they wouldn’t settle for anything less. One of our first communicants said to me “I can’t wait for every Sunday Mass now that I can receive Jesus.” May God bless us all with such holy desires. My sheep know my voice he says. Obviously one of them does.
If we try to make ourselves look like every other denomination then we will cease to be Catholic and it won’t matter where people go on Sundays. We need to be more Catholic and not less. As we pray and worship so shall we believe. The pattern is clear.
Our Sunday readings tells us of the Heavenly Liturgy that we participate in on Earth. Worthy is the lamb of our very best it tells us. God speaking through his Holy Catholic Church has called us to faithfulness in the way we worship. Every movement in my prayer life indicates a call from God to be faithful to the way we worship him. Our scripture says that if we are faithful then we will have the life giving water we seek and our thirst will be quenched.
The most important thing we do in a week is how we honor God. We honor his commandments or we disobey them. We worship well or we don’t. Jesus Christ is worthy of our very best efforts. He is worthy of the first fruits of our Labor. He is worthy of the finest we have to offer in all areas of our life. He is worthy of our faithfulness and obedience in small things as well as in large. These are truths that cannot be changed. We can live according to that truth or we can try to deny them.
I cannot make the choice for you of whether or not you choose to participate in Mass or if you give your very best. That choice is yours. I can choose however how I celebrate Mass and how it is offered in our parishes. I can choose to be obedient and faithful or I can choose to do my own thing and disobey the Church. I choose to be faithful. I choose to be obedient. I hope you will join me. I stand before the throne of the Lamb. He has purchased me and my salvation with his blood. He has washed my sin stained robes and made them white. For this reason, I will stand before God’s throne and Worship him day and night in his temple. With God’s grace, I will only give him the best. Worthy is the Lamb.

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2 Responses to “Homily – 4th Sunday of Easter”

  1. Jeanee Says:

    Dear Father Todd, Everything you write is so very beautiful! Thank you for being a Priest – you are not only appreciated by so many readers of your website but more importantly, you are very much appreciated by Jesus and Blessed Mother! I live in New Jersey and I’m 34. I found out about your website through Karen Hall, and now I will be telling my friends and my Priests about you and your wonderful writings! They will LOVE this! God Bless you! In Jesus and Mary, – Jeanee

  2. Ted Says:

    Father, I’ve been reading your blog for the last month or so and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your writings and your thoughts. At college in Maryland, I often feel we could use a priest like you to challenge people to greater holiness and reverence for the Eucharist especially. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy your writings and challenges.
    Ted Woodard

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