I ask you to think about the images that come to mind when I speak the word military. Now do the same for the word Church. With regard to the military, I would bet that most picture foot soldiers, or soldiers in a tank, or flying a jet, the rank and file enlisted doing their duty not generals or admirals in the Pentagon.. With regard to the Church, I would bet most first think of bishops, or a pope, or priests offering the Mass, not the foot soldiers in the pew, the laity.

 

Today's Gospel reading from Mark where Jesus send out the Apostles in twos to minister is often a Gospel story used to rally a cry for vocations to the priesthood or religious life as it should, but it can and must also be seen as a call to ministry for the church at large, the laity in the pews. The Twelve preached repentance, drove out demons and healed the sick. While the Church has sacraments which rightfully remind and pour forth encounters with God for all, the sacraments only work on those who come to them. The laity have a special gift and call to minister these realities of God's presence int he midst of their lives, their work place, their family and friends.

 

The faithful can preach repentance by being examples of forgiveness and mercy to those around them. They can preach by witnessing to forgiveness in their own relationships. They can expel demons by speaking out against in justice in the workplace, neighborhood, and culture. They can minister healing, by being a source of comfort and compassion to those in need where they find them. 

 

Yes, the laity are the foot soldiers called to action in today's Gospel message. The laity can in many ways be an even greater sign than the clergy of what Paul spoke about to the Ephesians:

     

     " In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions,
            in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us."

 

So today in this hearing of God's Word, we are all called and sent out with authority, the authority of the Son of God made flesh in our midst.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Promise: The Empty Tomb

 
My homily from the Easter Vigil 2015

When I went to college, I was blessed to have a wonderful second hand car to take with me to school. On one occasion, feeling a bit guilty at having such a benefit, I loaned my car to a friend who wanted to take a new girlfriend to dinner. He got into a small fender bender. As the car was in my dad's name, I had to tell him. I told him the truth of what happened and he did not doubt me. He said he knew me and believed that I would feel that way, do what I did, and not lie to him.

This night we are told the story of God's work in salvation history: creation, covenant, freedom from slavery, and hope by prophetic message. The story ends with Mark's account of the Gospel. The tomb was empty and they went and told no one. Wait...told no one? Yes. This is the actual ending of Mark's Gospel account.

We are left simply with the empty tomb and asked, rather challenged to believe. Having heard all that Jesus did, hearing all that God accomplished, and having the covenant and promises of God revealed, we are left with an empty tomb ans asked...do you believe? Do you trust that God is, and always has been, truthful to us? Then what does the empty tomb mean? That God has raised Jesus from the dead and given life to those in the grave and all believers for all time. God has conquered sin and death and given us hope for all ages.

In a moment we will be asked to affirm our yes to this promise of God in the new waters of Easter. We will then be asked to go out and live a life of Easter joy for and with others. Let us go knowing our God and that he would not lie to us for he has the words of everlasting life!

Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen! Alleluia!