Homily for November 2018 Holy Hour
Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
1 John 4:7-16
We come here tonight not to be alone. No, we come to be here with Jesus, Jesus who is Son of God, consubstantial with the Father. It is Jesus who is present in the bread in the monstrance.
In Baptism, we become adopted children of God. That means that Jesus is our brother and God is our Father. We come here seeking to be close to God. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet for the nations I appointed you.”
The same is true for us. God knows each and every one of us before we are conceived in our mother’s womb. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
While God knows us so well, we might struggle at times to be aware of his presence. God is everywhere but, as humans, we are limited to in our ability to be able to perceive his presence.
This is why we have churches, to have special places dedicated to God where we might be free from the distractions work, school, or home. Everything in a church building is designed to point us to God’s presence and activity in our lives.
We have stained glass windows and statues to remind us of sacred things and the saints who have gone before us. We have a Crucifix to remind us that Jesus died so that our sins might be forgiven. At the center of our church, we have an altar where we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus at Mass.
Today we are not here to celebrate Mass but our being here is dependent on what happens at Mass, the consecration where God turns ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is from our belief of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that we come to be here with Jesus.
We come to experience the love that Jesus shows us in the Crucifixion. We come to embrace the Resurrection and eternal life. We come here to be renewed in our relationship with our Lord and Savior.
It all starts with God’s love for us. We are called to love God and to love our neighbor but it starts with God loving us first. We do not initiate the relationship we have with God. God does. It is our choice of whether or not we accept and respond to that love.
We come here tonight to simply be in the presence of Jesus, to “remain in him.”
We need Jesus. He is the vine and we are the branches. We cannot truly live, we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in the love of Jesus.
We need to let Jesus prune us. Sometimes we drift away from Jesus, often without even being aware of it. We don’t mean it but when it happens we know we need to get back to Jesus. If we have strayed, then we need God to prune us of the extraneous things.
I think I have mentioned in the past that when my dad first brought the house he lives in there were grape vines on the property. Those grape vines used to bear fruit every year as long as he pruned them. If they were not pruned, all the nutrients went into sustaining the extra growth but pruned, pruned they bore wonderful grapes.
We are no different. We might have a lot going on in our lives that really isn’t necessary or helpful to us. Yet, we put a lot of energy into sustaining those things and we have little left for Jesus.
God knows we need grace. That’s why He gives us Sacraments. We have seven sacraments. Some of the sacraments, namely Baptism and Confirmation, we receive only once in our lives but they are very important moments. Baptism formally begins our life with God. In Confirmation, we affirm that choice.
While we receive Baptism and Confirmation only once, there are two sacraments we receive over and over. One is the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness as many times as we realize we have sinned and repent. God loves us and forgives us.
Of course, the sacrament we receive the most is the Eucharist. It is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. We are called to come to church each and every Sunday unless we are sick or prohibited by weather. This is not simply to please God. This is for our own good because we need Jesus. We need to hear God’s word and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus.
We need to come to Sunday Mass. Yet, we do not have to be here tonight. We choose to come tonight because we want to be close to God. So now I am going to stop talking as we take time to simply sit in adoration of what is before us in the Blessed Sacrament.