A Homily for Thursday in the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Thursday, July 28, 2023
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b; Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; Matthew 13:10-17
Imagine what it would have been like if you were among those who saw Jesus walk the earth and heard Him preach with your own ears. What a gift! Jesus points out to His closest disciples that they were truly blessed, and indeed they were. They spent day after day with Him, listening to His words and witnessing His miracles. They saw lives changed, hearts converted, amazing healings and souls saved from sin.
What they were privileged to witness was what so many “righteous people” before them longed to see and hear. Abraham, Moses, all of the prophets and so many others longed for the day of the coming of the Messiah. And these disciples were blessed to share in it.
Though it certainly would have been glorious to be alive as Jesus walked the earth, in so many ways we are far more blessed today. We continue to have the divine presence of our Lord alive and present to us.
He is present to us through his grace. He is present in the Sacraments in a real and amazing way. He is present in His Living Word every time the Scriptures are proclaimed. He is present in the definitive teachings of the Church that have come to us over the centuries. He is alive in the witness of the saints both past and living. And He is present within us by His indwelling in our souls through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We often hear about the importance of having a “personal relationship” with Christ. We might say that for many Evangelicals this is the source and summit of their faith. As Catholics we may be a bit confused by this and we may even feel as though if we are not having audible conversations in our head with Jesus regularly that something is wrong with our faith.
The fact is that our relationship with Jesus is mediated through the Church. Christ IS truly present to us now, but he is primarily known to us in his mystical body, the Church.
What this means is that our relationship with Christ IS REAL AND PERSONAL, but it is conveyed to us through the Church. We should resist an understanding of a personal relationship with him that drives a wedge between having a “personal relationship” on one hand, and the life of the Church itself.
Many hold to a mistaken idea that the Church is really just a bureaucratic, institutional reality. Something, perhaps, that’s good and important but the REAL thing, the most important thing, is having a personal relationship with Jesus. As if this is somehow different from practicing our faith. I’m sure we’ve all heard this, perhaps even in some Catholic circles.
As Catholics we shouldn’t agree with this way of thinking. We should understand that it’s THROUGH the Church that we have this PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. We have to be wary of a wedge that some might try to drive between a relationship with Jesus and the Church itself. The Church IS the mystical body of Christ!
At first, some may think that the presence of the Messiah in these ways is not nearly as much of a blessing as it would have been to have seen Him walk the earth and have listened to Him preach. But in truth, God’s presence to us today is so much greater than even when Jesus walked the earth.
Today, we are blessed beyond measure because the Holy Spirit dwells WITHIN us, within our very souls. We encounter Christ personally at every Mass and we even receive his body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist! The apostles didn’t experience this degree of a personal relationship with the Lord until the Last Supper!
Dear friends, there is no time greater than the time we live in, because it is the time of the greatest presence of God in our world.
Reflect, today, upon the incredible blessings bestowed upon us by our Lord. Reflect on God’s presence in His holy Word, in the Sacraments, through the teachings of the Church, through the witness of the saints and through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling within our souls. These are the blessings that must be seen, understood and embraced with the greatest joy.
We are blessed beyond measure! Believe this and grow in gratitude for living in a time when we truly have A CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Almighty God himself, a relationship that is mediated through his Church, through Her sacraments, her Word and Her teachings.
God bless you.