Monday, March 24, 2008

Part of my Good Friday homily

An ancient tale tells of a country where everyone walked barefoot. Even the king had no covering for his feet. But in his castle, with polished marble floors covered with deep carpets, he didn't need anything to protect his tender tootsies.
One day, however, the king ventured outdoors. His feet encountered stones, twigs, and gravel. "Ooo! Ow! Ouch!" he cried. "This is terrible"
Then, being a compassionate king, with the welfare of his subjects always at heart, he issued a decree: "No one should suffer this pain. Take cow hides, and lay the leather all over the land, to protect the people feet from sticks and stones!"
Eventually, one of his advisers got enough nerve to suggest an alternative. "Sir, wouldn't it be easier just to cover the peoples feet?"
And thus, says the ancient tale, were shoes invented.
Like that king, we sometimes want to change the entire world, to protect ourselves from pain of one kind or another. Sometimes we need to hear the adviser's alternative: the change might better take place in us.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, true God and true Man, has experienced the absolute depths of human misery.
- When we contemplate his Passion we cannot doubt it.
- Isaiah didn't doubt it: "He was spurned and avoided... a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces..."

We have all felt like that at some time in our lives, because we live in a fallen world.
- We have all been sick, and betrayed, and hurt.
- And we have all caused pain in others.
- The effects of evil and sin have reached out and touched each one of us, just like ripples in the water reach to the shores when you throw a pebble into the middle of a pond. The pebble was original sin.

Jesus saved us by coming down to our level, by stepping into the middle of our pain and sorrow:" it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings he endured," as we heard from Isaiah.

He saved us not by illuminating suffering, but by suffering with us and for us, and by teaching us through his own example to trust and love God even in the midst of suffering.

Do we fully realize what this truth means?

It means we don't have to become perfect before we can become friends of God. It also means that, in Christ, we can go right into Gods presence just the way we are, with all our miseries and confusions and wounds and sins. We might ask this question.....Jesus' arms are outstretched on the cross, waiting to embrace who? Those that never sinned? Those who are already saints? No...... US.
The Letter to the Hebrews understands this.

Listen again to the earth-shaking sentence that can free us from all fear and hesitancy in our relationship with God: "Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

This may be a challenge in itself as we go about our self absorbed daily business.. Have you ever noticed that when we set aside times to pray, we are presented with a great number of excuses why we don't have time. We must be courageous enough to resist the pressures and temptations that send us the messages not to pray. These my come in very subtle forms as in peer pressure, pressure to socialize, pressure to be a consumer and many more ways. We must understand that we cannot live without this reaching out to God.

On this day, this sacred Good Friday, let's join our hearts to those of all Catholics throughout, the world, and lets lift our eye's to this saving cross of Christ. This cross is the "Throne of grace" that God wants us to "approach with boldness" so we can "receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need".

When we approach and venerate the cross, let's do so not just with our feet ,hands and lips, but with our whole selves. In prayer, let's lay our own troubles at the foot of this cross, this throne. Let us lay the troubles of those we love at the foot of this throne. Let us lay the troubles of the world at the foot of this throne. Nothing would please Him more.

Remember the story of the King that tried to fix the world by solving ever ones problems by covering the land in leather. I am here to tell you as an advisor to reserve the idea that you can fix the world your self... but by coming to the cross you can help those around you by being better at approaching the throne yourself and asking God to help those who are in need of a protection and support.

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