Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What the Catholic Church offers the World

My homily from this past Sunday, the 23rd in Ordinary Time, September 9, 2012

What is the greatest gift the Catholic Church offers to the world?

Is it moral teaching? Do this and don’t do that?

Is it works of charity? Feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless?

Is it the Sacraments? The Holy Mass? Holy Matrimony? Baptism?

What is the greatest gift Catholics offer to the world?

It isn’t moral teaching. Many people and groups are moral teachers but moral teaching isn’t enough. It isn’t works of charity. Even non-religious groups are charitable. It isn’t even the Sacraments, for they serve a larger purpose than to simply exist for themselves.

The greatest gift the Catholic Church offers to the world are Catholic men and women.

What the Catholic Church was created to give is what the world needs most. Men and women who are after the very heart of Jesus. Men and women who seek to be healed and transformed by Jesus Christ. This is what the Catholic Church offers and it is what the world needs.

Pope St. Leo the Great, back in the 400’s said it in a homily. “Remember Christian, mercy itself wishes you to be merciful, righteousness itself wishes you to be righteous, so that the Creator may shine forth in his creature, and the image of God be reflected in the mirror of the human heart.”

With this in mind, listen again to the Prophet Isaiah. “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication.” These words are said best when they are lived in your own heart. As you learn to choose the good, to love the poor and to adore the Lord IN YOUR OWN HEART! This is the mission of the savior. Not simply to rid you of sin but create your life anew in His image. Bold and strong because you have seen and know what God looks like!

I would like show you this in a personal way. Today is the 6th anniversary of the death of my father, David Bruce Dickinson. What is the greatest gift that my father gave me? It wasn’t an inheritance, it wasn’t my faith, it wasn’t even my beard. The greatest gift my father gave was his faith and his life. Was my father a saint? No. But he was a Catholic Christian who sought to image the heart of Jesus Christ and sought that with purpose. He believed and strove to turn his heart into a mirror that reflected Jesus Christ. For that I am deeply grateful to God and to my dad.

Now I want to finish for those of you who are listening and thinking. “That sounds good Father, but that isn’t me. Becoming an image of Jesus sounds good but it isn’t me. You don’t know what sin, what darkness, what rebellion lives within me. I cannot be a life-giving image of Jesus.”  To you who think that, I want you to turn your hearts to the Gospel today.

Pay attention to where Jesus is going. An area of Israel called the Decapolis. That is Greek for “the ten cities.” This is a pagan, non-Jewish territory. Jesus is going to non-believers. Jesus is going to those who seem to be LEAST capable of becoming mirrors of the heart of Jesus. Remember again what Jesus healed in the man: his ears and his mouth. Why his ears and his mouth? A mirror needs two things, it needs to receive the image and to be able to show the image back.

Jesus reaches out to personally and intimately heal both capacities in that man. Jesus heals his capacity to receive the image of God: his hearing. Jesus heals his capacity to reflect the image of God: his speech. That man is you! Jesus desires today to heal your capacity to receive him in your heart. Jesus desires today to heal your capacity to reflect him from your heart.

What do Catholics offer to the world? The Catholic Church offers what the world needs. Jesus Christ reflected in your heart. The world needs Him in you. I need Him in you.

Pray with me. Jesus, I know those parts and portions of my heart that are deaf to you. I know those parts and portions of my heart that do not respond to you. Heal them today. Jesus touch me in this Mass and heal me today and everyday. Jesus, I know those parts and portions of my heart that are mute. Jesus, I know those parts and portions of my heart that do not reflect you back upon the world. Heal them today. Jesus touch me in this Mass and heal me today and everyday.


Cross posted on www.piusxiinewman.com.  

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