HOMILY FOR SATURDAY THE SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER 2017 DEACON ANDREW THOMAS
When an unexpected visitor arrives at our door, we're never too sure if that’s good or bad. When we hear the doorbell ring, or that knock on the door, immediately we feel a jolt of suspense.
Today we have the little peep hole on the door so that we can see who has arrived without the person knowing that we're looking.
With caller identification on phones, we make decisions as to whether or not to answer the phone based on the familiarity we have with that number.
We are always on guard, and rarely do we take the risk of leaving ourselves vulnerable.
King Ethelbert of England, the pagan king of England of the late sixth century, was not sure what to make of the unexpected visit of St. Augustine of Canterbury when he arrived with 40 men to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He wasn't sure what to make of Augustine and his forty monks, but he took a risk, and let them in, and eventually converted 10,000 were converted to the Christian faith, including the king himself.
Are we willing to take risks in our relationships? Are we willing to risk letting people into our lives, and sharing our lives with them?
Sometimes we forget that Jesus was an unexpected visitor for the Israelite people. Because of this, many people were not sure what to make of Jesus, and were not willing to take the risk to get to know Him.
And so the apostles were pretty courageous in following this unexpected visitor. They took risks by giving up their careers and livelihood to follow Jesus.
Peter stopped fishing, Levi stopped tax-collecting. And even though they seem puzzled throughout the Gospels when Jesus explains Himself, the effort is there, and they don’t stop following Him.
When Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."
The apostles are confronted with the reality that His visit is almost over.
Our time on earth to know, love, and serve Jesus is also limited.
The question is, how much are we willing to give up of our time and interests, to know, love, and serve Jesus?
1.) So how should we spend our time knowing Jesus?
We go to Mass and encounter Jesus in the breaking of the bread. We pray throughout the day, and we learn about Him through reading and studying Sacred Scripture.
2.) How should we spend our time loving Jesus?
We obey His commandments. Jesus says in the Gospel last Sunday, "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me."
3.) How do we spend time serving Jesus?
We perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
And let's face it, it's not easy to go to a homeless shelter and cook and serve food to the poor. It's not easy to visit the imprisoned, particularly those who have committed heinous crimes such as murder or rape. It's not easy to bury the dead and enter into the discomfort of a broken family.
Augustine went from answering the door of the unexpected visitors of the monastery, to being the unexpected visitor, knocking on many doors in order to bring Christ to the English. He had to get out of his comfort zone to do God's work.
As Christians, we should learn to be comfortable receiving unexpected visitors and being the unexpected visitor to others. For we are not alone. In both cases, Christ is with us!
And it is when we perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we gain more insight as to when to open the door and when to close it. We gain insight as to when to leave our homes, and when to return to them.
But it's not easy. We have to continually go out of our comfort zones to truly live the Christian life.
Sometimes we need to answer that unknown phone call, or open the door to a stranger.
Yes, it's a risk to open that door. But it may be even more risky, to always keep it closed, for we usually encounter Christ in those whom we least expect.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!