Week 3 Homily: “Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me” (John 6:45).
Today we are on week 3 of our homily Series – “Mass is Heaven on Earth. Why are we doing this series on the Mass? Because we’ve been reading the Gospel of John 6 where Jesus presents the discourse on Himself as the Bread of Life. He gives us himself in the form of Bread and Wine at Mass which is the greatest prayer we have as Catholics. It is the center and summit of our Christian faith. We would like all of our parishioners to appreciate the mystery we celebrate and receive all the graces that comes with encountering God at Mass.
A little recap – On week one of our series we said that Mass is heaven on earth because at each Mass, God the Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, the Angels and Saints come to meet us where we are here on earth. During that encounter, we enter into a “holy communion” with the Heavenly beings and with one another.
On week two, Deacon Danny reflected on the role of each person in making Mass heaven on earth. The priest acts in the person of Christ and the people participate actively through their different ministries.
Today, week three, we want to focus on the purpose and importance of the Word of God at Mass. (The Liturgy of the World). Before I continue, I would like to share with you a little story:
There was this young man who was celebrating his 18th birthday. His father was a very wealthy man. For his birthday gift, he requested for a convertible porch car worth $50,000. On his birthday, the whole family gathered for the party. Everybody was happy and having fun. After dinner, then came the time to open the gifts. He was so excited, and looking forward to open his father’s gift expecting to find his car key. To his greatest surprise, the gift he received from his father was a beautiful Bible. He was disappointed and upset. Angrily he threw the Bible to his father saying, this is not what I requested from you. With that anger he left the house. The father was calling him to come back, but he refused to answer. After few days, his father had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died. After the funeral, the young man was missing his dad so much that he decided to pick the Bible his father gave him at birthday. When he opened it, to his greatest surprise he saw a cheque of $50,000 in the Bible with a note, “My son, this is the money for the car you requested for your birthday. However, I am giving you this Bible to help guide you as you begin this new stage of your life. If you read and follow the instructions therein, it will lead you to success, true happiness and eternal life. Love you my son – Dad”. As he read this note, with the $50,000 cheque in his hands, he broke into tears. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But it was real! From that day, he developed great love and passion for reading the Bible and that completely changed his life for good. He eventually became a pastor. This little story reminds us of the importance of God’s Word and the transformation, peace and joy it can bring to our lives, if only we attentively listen to God speaking to us through it. Like that young man in our story, we may be asking God for something so important to us ($50,000, healing, breakthrough, etc.) God has put the cheque in his Word. When we develop love for the Word of God, read and attentively listen to him speak to us through it, we will discover that God is able to provide more than we need. We will find peace, true happiness and eternal life.
Whenever we come into the presence of God and want to communicate with him, we speak to him through prayer. But when God wants communicate with us, he speaks to us through his Word. Hence, we are invited to prayerfully listen to the readings, open our minds and hearts to hear what the Lord has to say to each one of us personally.
The Liturgy of the Word begins with the first reading usually from OT except during Easter season. In general, this reading tells us how God has acted in the past for his Chosen People. Most often it relates to the Gospel reading that tells us how God continues to act for us, his people today through his Son, Jesus Christ.
The Psalm is usually a hymn of praise, a petition for various needs, thanksgiving or plea for mercy and forgiveness. Sometimes, the Psalm may reflect the experiences we are living at the present moment or the experiences of other people. We are invited to join in a prayerful mood whether it is sung or recited.
The second reading is often taken from Paul’s letters or any other letter. It tells us how Jesus was at work in those early disciples and Christian communities. Its purpose is to encourage us in our own journey, to look up to the witness of the early disciples and bear witness to Christ as they did.
The Gospel is preceded by the Alleluia – a song of joy to herald Jesus who comes to speak to us in the Gospel. John 1: 1-2, says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God… the Word took flesh and dwelt among us…” Hebrews 4: 12, says the Word of God is active and alive. If we listen attentively, it has something new to tell us each time.
The homily continues to proclaim what we have heard in the Scriptures: that God is present among us, that he loves us and that his saving power is at work in our lives today, just at it was in the past. This is the Good news – that Jesus is not history of the past but he is here and now present with us at each Mass – Heaven on Earth!
After the homily we profess our faith, affirming what we have heard – I believe in God, I believe that he loves me, I believe that he sent his son Jesus Christ to come and save me/us, I believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, he will lead me to heaven.
The prayers of the faithful – general intercessions end the Liturgy of the Word. If we listen to the Word and act on it, gradually our lives will be transformed. We will experience more peace. In the gospel today Jesus said, “Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me” (John 6:45).
I suggest that this week you give the Bible – the Word of God a central place in your life.
1) If you don’t have a Bible get one. If you have one, place an altar in your home and open the Bible, read a passage and meditate on it every day.
2) Get monthly subscription to Word among us or Living with Christ. Read the readings of each day at Mass and the reflection. If possible read them before coming to Mass. And try to take something from what you read to practice in your daily life.
God bless you all!