26th Sunday: Knowing Jesus

To hear the audio of today’s homily please select the audio below:

Religious education programs begin in most parishes this month. Many of the programs involve young people, of course, but we are all called to grow in faith, no matter how old we are.

Unfortunately, adults often see faith as something you learn as a child and that’s it.

The Catholic writer Frank Sheed once said the problem with adult Catholics is that they don’t keep engaged in the faith they learned as children. He used the example of our eyes. We have two eyes. Let’s say one of them is the eye of faith; the other is the eye of experience. 

As children we may see the world with two eyes; but as adults we may see the world only with the eye of experience, losing the focus that faith gives, another dimension. Faith helps us to see.

Jesus said to his disciples “you are all learners.” Not only children learn, all of us learn. We’re lifelong learners, lifelong believers, even till the end.”

I was talking to a man last week who said “You know, I go to church pretty regularly; I try to live a good life, but I would like to know Jesus.”

I told him that’s what we’re trying to do all our lives–to know Jesus.

I told him to get a good bible, like the New American Bible, and start reading it. Listen to the readings in church that tell us what Jesus said and did. This is a time he reveals himself to us, as one of the Eucharist prayers says it so well:

“You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, who love the human race and always walk with us on the journey of life. Blessed indeed is your Son, present in our midst when we are gathered by his love, and when as once for the disciples, now for us, he opens the scriptures and breaks the bread.”

From what we know of Jesus, he bravely faced the issues of his time and its questions and challenges.  Knowing Jesus, then, means that we face the issues and challenges of our time as bravely as we can. 

Let me point out one of today’s challenges– our changing climate.  Last Tuesday evening at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change,  the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin brought a message from Pope Francis.

He said that after thirty years of study we have to admit there are critical days ahead. We know that “the entire international community is part of one interdependent human family…There is no room for the globalization of indifference, the economy of exclusion or the throwaway culture so often denounced by Pope Francis,”

Our faith “warns agains the risk of considering ourselves the masters of creation. Creation is not some possession that we can lord over for own pleasure; nor, even less, is it the property of only some people, the few: creation is a gift, it is the marvelous gift that God has given us, so that we will take care of it and harness it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude” (Pope Francis, General Audience, 21 May 2014).

It’s not just a matter of some technical changes like emission reductions, the cardinal continued. We need “ to change our lifestyles and the current dominant models of consumption and production.”

Knowing Jesus means living as Jesus would if he were with us today.

We’re all learners. The consoling thing is that we can start anywhere, anytime to know Jesus. The gospel readings for this week and last week tell us that. The workers going into the vineyard and two sons in today’s reading tell us the invitation is always there, so let’s take it.

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Filed under Environment, Passionists, Religion

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