Reflections on the Readings
June 23, 2013 - Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year C
A Place Called Home
For as many as you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27, 28)
I recently watched the movie: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Separated for a while from the company of Gandalf and Thorin and troop, Bilbo encounters Gollum and captures the Ring. Bilbo returns to his comrades, but Thorin is curious as to why Bilbo rejoins them and their cause.
[Gandalf:] "Well, what does it matter? He's back!"
[Thorin:] "It matters! I want to know: why did you come back?"
Bilbo's reply is priceless: "Look, I know you doubt me, I know you always have. And you're right, I often think of Bag End. I miss my books. And my armchair. And my garden. See, that's where I belong. That's home. And that's why I came back, cause you don't have one. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can."
And thus the quest begins to take back Erebor, the home of the Dwarfs and their Leader, Thorin.
Everybody, and I mean everybody, needs a place called home. A place where people live together as friends and fellow citizens. Such a place is where there is connection and camaraderie; things that make a person feel needed, wanted, and, well, at home.
It seems to me that since the beginning God's mission is about bringing us back home. You could say that until we are reunited with him and one another we are homeless. Spiritual vagabonds: separated from Christ, alienated from the Church, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.(cp. Ephesians 2:12)
The Ten Commandments make us aware of our plight; to help us understand and to recognize our transgressions. The light of the law shines on our hearts and confirms our need of a Savior. The law serves as a tutor or custodian, to lead us to Christ, and the faith that justifies us in him. Free in Christ we long to please him and to live the Commandments in his strength.
But how do we come to know Christ and the strength to do his will and obey his law and to live a life pleasing to him? Since the beginning of the Church water baptism has been the door to all that is new and wonderful in Christ. Baptism is the womb of the Church and the entrance to our new home. Therefore, we enter into Christ and his Church through Baptism. The Church is the birthplace of everyone who is born again of the water and of the Spirit. Because baptism is the way the Church has new children we can say that the Church is a place where the new birth is imparted. The Church is a birthing place where new children of the Kingdom are born again and become members of a new family and enjoy a new place of family and faith. This is home. A home where neither our physical or national differences, nor our differences of status or stature keep us from saying together, "Abba, Father!"
We often think about evangelization as inviting people to Christ. And this is true. But think about it. Is it not an invitation to come home? To leave the world and our wandering through it and find rest in Christ? Christ calls to the world saying, "Come unto me all of you who labor and are heavy hearted. Come to me and find rest for your souls. Come home and I will give you rest." These simple and profound words speak to the very core of everyone who is struggling with life without God's love. Nothing penetrates the very center of a separated son of Adam or daughter of Eve as these words of invitation and reconciliation. Such words are words of liberation and freedom revealing that there is a place of hope; a place called home.
Baptism is a profoundly simple gesture and action of the Church. Packed into that celebration, however, is the Spirit of life in Christ. Every baptism is an intense encounter with Christ, an encounter the Church nourishes with her Sacraments. In the teaching of the Scriptures we learn of our inheritance in Christ as members of our new family. In the confessional we renew our understanding of the Love that can not, that will not ever fail us. In our friendships with one another, we find a new family of brothers and sisters we did not know we had before we came home.
The Church is a place of family and friendship that resonates deeply in me. I hope it does with you. We must make sure that the hearth of welcome is burning brightly. The welcoming embrace of the Spirit must saturate all that we do in the name of Christ.
As in all families and homes, there are scuffles, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. But if you are in Christ you are my brother and my sister. Give me your hand, and let's pray together and for each other. Let's be friends and so much so that the world will know that we are disciples of the man of Galilee. The one who walked on water, healed the lepers, raised the dead, and fed the hungry of heart and body. This is the Christ we know; it is the Christ we want our family and friends to know.
Today we will pray together the family prayer: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." We will behold Jesus high and lifted up on the family table. And then we will be fed with his life in the bread which is his body and the wine which is his blood. This is how we who are one in Christ Jesus celebrate Family in the Father's House, in this place we call home. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit him at: www.dennishankins.com