Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Place Called Home - Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reflections on the Readings
Fifth Sunday of Easter - May 22, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins

A Place Called Home

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" - Jesus

Home is the nicest word there is! That's what Laura Ingalls Wilder said about her little house on the prairie.

I often think about the older folks in my life and home. Many of them have gone on. They often said that they were pilgrims on the earth. They lived in simplicity and found joy in the family and friends that filled their lives. Their greatest joy was Jesus whom they loved and adored. And they lived their lives believing him who said, "I go to prepare a place for you."

If I tilt my head just right I can still here those folks of my childhood singing like only Pentecostals can. Without restraint they're singing, This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through; My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me, from heaven's open door. And I can't feel at home in this world anymore. I'm a child again as I write these words. I see their faces beaming with the light of another world. Their eyes are filled with tears and then they close as they relish the sweet breezes of a place called home.

The beauty and grace of heaven is reflected in the work, the words, and the worship of the Church.

The Church is a spiritual house. It is a place we call home. Here we are brothers and sisters in Christ through baptism. What we share in common is the conviction that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Through him we find our way to the 'Father's House.' In our witness we invite others to this great community of faith. We are the family of God. And God wants his family to grow in faith and in the adding of those many more he is calling to himself. The work of the Church is to be a witness to others of that pure love that expresses itself in feeding the poor, healing the sick, forgiving the sinner, and nurturing its own in the food of his body and blood.

It is a great work. To be the face of Jesus and to be his hands and arms and heart extended is a great and necessary work. It is the missionary spirit and the work of evangelization. It is the vision that propelled St. Paul to say, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel." And this he did with compelling power and words and prayer. Now you and I may not be a St. Paul, but we have the same Lord, the same faith, the same power to animate us to 'go into all the world.' Our world begins at home.

The words of the Church are its teaching ministry. We know that the early Church grew in faith and in numbers because they heard the teaching of the Apostles. Those words and that Church exist today. We need to know our faith. We need to be able to give a simple and loving voice to the faith that is ours. What the Church believes and proclaims is ever ancient and ever new. Skepticism is alive and well in the 21st century, but Jesus is too. He remains the way, the truth, and the life. It is this sureness of faith we need in a age of skepticism and relativism.

Let's look lastly at the worship of the Church. Peter tells us we are living stones of a spiritual house. As a holy priesthood we offer spiritual sacrifices. I have no doubt that Peter has the Eucharist on his mind as he describes the worship of the Church. The cornerstone of our worship is the altar. Everything revolves around it or points to it. There, yes there before us is him who calls us out of darkness into his wonderful light. For those who have faith it is Jesus who calls us and give us himself in the bread and in the fruit of the cup.

We are a very special people to the Lord. And that means we have a special vocation in touching the world with the love of Jesus. We who are fed at the altar of God receive a foretaste of that fulness of joy that will be ours in that place being prepared for you and me. I like what I heard Father Boettner preach recently. It went something like this: "In addition to the gifts of bread and wine, we bring ourselves also, and place ourselves on the altar and we ask God to bless us too and to make us holy." This is the fulness of worship, it is the fulness of life we receive in a place called home. This is the Church. It is the way to another place too. There we'll be received by him who promised the Church a long time ago a place he prepares for us. Let not your heart be troubled - Home is the nicest word there is. Amen.

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