Saturday, January 17, 2015

2015/01/18 - New Name

Before Mass:
Great news!  Today we’ll be given permission to sleep in Church!  Seriously – listen to the first reading.  Also – I’m going to give you permission to NOT give up ice cream for Lent this yearpretty exciting stuff, so you might want to listen closely to the homily today.  ;)
(to a kid in the pew) What’s your name?  How do you KNOW it is your name?  Where did you get that namewho gave it to you?  Does your name mean anything?  Does it say anything about who you really are?  Think about that. We all have names.  Does your name describe who you really are?

I remember in grade school – it seemed the cool kids had nick name.  There was Buzz – I think he got that name because he always had a crew-cut – you know – where all the hair is buzzed off.  Somewhere around the 7th grade, somebody asked me his name – and I couldn’t remember.  Now I can remember his name was David.  But at the time, to me, ‘Buzz’.  is who he was. 

I didn’t have a nick name.  I wasn’t one of the cool kids.  I saw myself as an average kid for the most part – especially when it came to athletics.  I was never one of the first ones picked for kick ball or dodge ball or any game for that matter. 

Until one day in 7th grade, we were doing some sort of running where we had to run as fast as we could to a spot – then back again 4 times…we used to call them killers, but some boys told me yesterday they call them valleys or death valleys now.   I remember I was one of the last ones to run that day – and as I watched the others, I could see where they could have ran faster and made up time.  When I finished my run, the teacher was really surprised… I need to check my watch!  I had the fastest time of the day – even beating Todd – who everybody knew was the fastest kid in class…that’s why his nickname was ‘Lightning’. 

That day, I realized – I wasn’t who I thought I was.  I wasn’t who everybody else thought I should be.  I had what it takes to be a totally different person… but I needed that experience to make me realize it.  I needed somebody to tell me who I could be. 

Look what happened to Simon – Jesus said – your name is not who you are… instead, I name you ‘Cephas’ – which we translate to ‘Peter’– which means rock or stone.  You all know, of course, that Peter was the first Pope.  He was the rock upon which Jesus built his Church on earth.  Now - Just having the name didn’t change Peter.  He had a lot of learning to do – heck – he had just MET Jesus… so he couldn’t have been prepared to be the Pope.  But – Here’s the point – once we’ve met Jesus… we are no longer the same person.

Does God talk to you?  Seriously – think to yourself – has God ever spoken to you?  You know, like Samuel in that first reading… My guess is that most of us would have to say ‘no’… in fact, we might think since God has never spoken to ME, I really doubt that He speaks to anybody anymore… at least – not the average folks.   Maybe the Pope – maybe Fr. Eugene – surely God must speak with THEM… but me?  No way.

On the other hand, there are people here today who HAVE had God speak to them.  What makes them different than the rest of us?  What do THEY do to hear God that the rest of us don’t do?

Well – look at Samuel in the first reading.  He was sleeping in the Temple.  Now – I stand up here preaching every few weeks, and I know that some people out there DO sleep in the Temple!  ;)    Well if Samuel is allowed to do it, I guess we can too.

In case you don’t know the backstory, it might help to know WHY he was sleeping in the Temple.  Samuel was the son of Hannah.  Hannah had been unable to have children, and she promised God that if she could have a son, she would dedicate him to God.  So – when Samuel was born, she took him to the Temple – and Eli actually raised him!  That’s why Samuel was sleeping in the temple.  He was being mentored by Eli, the priest.

So – he had slept in the temple many times… and the reading today it even tells us – up until this moment, God had not revealed anything to him… but today was different.  God called him.  What can we learn from that story?

First – – notice that Samuel had no clue God was speaking to him.  He went to the wisest person he knew – Eli – but even HE didn’t recognize immediately what was going on and told him to go back to sleep.  In our own lives, sometimes the world will tell US to go back to sleep.  They don’t hear God talking to them, so there’s no reason to think God is talking to US.

Second - it shows the need for us to seek out a wise person.  We won’t always recognize God speaking to us, but a wise spiritual director will be able to help us recognize God speaking.

The third thing we can learn from that is by spending time in the Temple or in church - we can hear from God.  We may not HEAR Him every time – but eventually, God will speak to us….and we have to be ready to respond.

Do you ever spend time in the Temple?  Do you spend time in Church with God?  You know, we have Jesus – the son of God – right here in our Tabernacle all the time.  We have access to come sit with God every day.  But do we do it?

Even better, on Friday evenings, we have Eucharistic Adoration – where the Body of Christ is exposed in the monstrance in the chapel at SC.  We have people coming in all evening to spend an hour in silence… to give God an hour to speak to us.  Some people have seen and experienced some amazing signs while in adoration.  I know I personally get my BEST inspiration for homilies when I’m sitting in adoration.

One thing is almost for sure…If we don’t take the time in silence, we’ll never hear God.

If we fill every moment of our day with music and TV and ipods and emails and texts and busyiness… we are wasting our lives.  If we cannot take time to allow God to tell us our purpose, we have missed the very meaning of our lives.  If we never let Jesus tell us our real name    We'll miss the joy he planned for us by doing what HE wants of us.

I’d like to invite you to give God an hour – or maybe a half-hour – every Friday.  Currently, we have adoration Fridays from 4-10 pm.  You know, many churches have enough folks willing to commit their time, that they can keep adoration going perpetually – meaning 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could expand our adoration times!

In fact, with Lent coming up – this would be a great Lenten resolution… forget about giving up chocolate…or ice cream. Give God an hour!!!  We’re going to try to open up our Adoration ALL DAY on Friday – we can start as early as you like.  The trick is, we need people to commit, because the chapel cannot be left empty while the Precious Body is exposed.  But don’t be scared to commit… on weeks when you can’t make it – you can simply trade with somebody or call a substitute.  Try it during lent.  You might find that you really love this time.  You might hear God speaking to you.  You might find your purpose. You might find your real name by giving Jesus some time to speak to you.

How different would our parish be if every person gave God the time to tell us our purpose – and like Simon – to give us a new name.  Once we’ve met Jesus, we are no longer the same person.



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