Sunday, January 6, 2013

Don't Wander. Follow A Star.

Homily from the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord - Year C

I need a volunteer.  I’ve hidden something very important somewhere in this building and I want you to go find it.  It’s very, very precious to me.  Next to the Eucharist, it may be the most important things in my life.  It’s bacon.  I’ve hidden some bacon somewhere in this building.  Now go find it.

How?  You need a map.

While they’re looking for the bacon, have any of you seen the Catholics Come Home commercial with Lou Holtz?  It’s fantastic.  You may know Coach Holtz is Catholic.  In fact, he’s a daily communicant (which means he goes to Mass and receives communion every day.)  And in the video, he invites those who may have fallen away from the practice of the faith to come back home to the Catholic church.  If you want to see it, just tune in to the National Championship game Monday night where it will air on national television.  Coach Holtz begins the video saying, “For victory in life, we’ve got to keep focused on the goal; and the goal is Heaven.”

We all want to go to Heaven.  That’s our goal.  But ask yourself this question:  How are you going to get there?  What’s your plan?  What’s your roadmap?  

Just like our friend here who couldn’t find the bacon without directions, we can’t get to Heaven without directions either.  If we try to wander our way into Heaven, the chances are very slim we’ll get there.

When the Wise Men decided to go look for the child Jesus, they didn’t wander aimlessly across the desert hoping to run into him.  They followed instructions.  They followed a roadmap.  They followed the guiding light given to them by God: they followed the star.

I made a resolution to lose 20 lbs this year.  That’s my goal.  But I won’t reach my goal without a plan; without a guiding star if you will.  So, my plan is to go to the gym, once a week in January.  (Baby steps.)  In February, I’ll go twice a week.  Come March, we’ll see if I’m stupid enough to go three times a week.

Heaven is a destination like any other.  Actually, Heaven is a destination unlike any other.  So we should have a plan to get there unlike any other.

God has given us a guiding light for getting to Heaven: Christ and his Church.  Before Christ ascended to Heaven, he gave his Apostles one last instruction: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:19)  Where did you receive that gift of Christ, your baptism?  Here in the Church.  

Where did you first hear the Word of God and where do you continue to hear it week after week?  Here in the Church.  

Where do you receive the gift of Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist?  Here in the Church.

Where do you gather together with your brothers and sisters in Christ to offer sacrifice and worship to the Lord?  Here in the Church.

So, what is your plan for getting to Heaven? (and trust me, I ask this question of myself as well.)  How are we going to move closer to Christ and closer to Heaven this year through our life in the Church?  Some of them are givens like going to Mass every Sunday, praying every day, going to Confession regularly.  But what will you do differently this year?

What is your concrete plan?
  • Will you read a book of the Bible this month?
  • Will you read a spiritual classic by one of the Saints this year?
  • Will you go on a Christ Renews His Parish weekend?
  • Will you attend the diocesan men’s conference or women’s conference?
  • Will you seek the answer to your question about the Catholic faith by asking a priest or listening to Redeemer Radio?
  • If your marriage needs help, will you seek counseling or attend Third Option?
  • If you repeatedly struggle with vice of anger or gossip or pornography or any other habitual sin will you seek the loving counsel of a priest in confession and take concrete steps to turn away from it?
  • Will you try to patch up that relationship that has gone sour?
  • Will you go on the Edge or Life Teen retreats this year?
  • Will you clean out the closet of any clothes you haven’t worn in a year and give them to the poor?
  • Will you clean out the pantry of food you can share with the hungry?
  • Will you make a weekly or daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel?
There are literally hundreds of things we could do this year to move closer to Christ and Heaven.  But none of them will matter unless we actually choose and do one or two of them.  This is the time of year where we make resolutions.  Today, let’s resolve to get to Heaven.  But let’s not wander our way there.  Let’s take a moment now to prayerfully discern in silence the concrete plan, the guiding star, we’ll follow as we journey this year to Christ and our Heavenly destination.

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