Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mother Church is for rebellious children: 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

(Listen to this homily here).

            Like the past several years, I spent my holiday break at my friend’s cabin.  Over time I have become great friends with a family that has three daughters.  They are now happily married to great guys, and for the first 4th of July they all had children.
            I marveled at how constant parenting is.  This was a non-stop discipline-fest!  “Wear your life jacket!”  “Don’t get too close to the fire!”  “Don’t eat those M&M’s (even though Fr. Ben gave them to you) before dinner!”  And while the kids were well behaved (for the most part) they frequently pushed the line as far as possible.  And my friends are awesome parents.
            Now you may find this hard to believe, but I was a handful as a child!  My Mom reminds me that, as a young boy, I used to boss her around by pointing at her.  One time she told me, “If you put that finger in my face again I’m going to bite it.”  Guess who quickly had a bitten finger?  At the age of five, I decided I had enough and was ready to move out on my own.  My Mom packed my little suitcase for me.  (I turned back after a block).
            As great as kids are—true miracles and gifts from God—they are rebellious.  You parents know this.  And what is one of the first words a child learns?  No!  I don’t know how you parents do it.  I’d try to reason with them—how old are you again?  Two!  Have you ever paid a bill in your life?!
            Now here is the kicker: while my friends disciplined their children—while I was being a punk to my Mom—the kids were being loved.  They were fed a healthy meal.  Without realizing it, these children were being protected from unforeseen danger.  While kids may complain, argue or rebel, all the while they are being cared for and loved.
            I want you to consider our relationship with the Church using the metaphor of a parent and her kids.  Have you ever thought of the Church along these lines?  What I mean is, we come from a rebellious line.  Think of Adam and Eve and that apple.  Or Cain killing Abel.  Or the great flood in the time of Noah.  Or David sinning with Bathsheba.  God sent Ezekiel to such a crowd: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.”  Jesus faced those who rejected him.
            And this is us.
            God has given us holy Mother Church to guide, protect and feed us.  She will point out, “Don’t do that behavior” or, “Don’t get too close to that belief,” or, “Make sure you remember to do this.”  We may kick and scream wanting our own way.  We may pick and choose what we want to believe or listen to.  Like children, our hearts and minds may rebel.  All the while, Mother Church feeds us with the sacraments.  She protects us from evil.  She guards us against unforeseen evil that lurks at the door.
            Now I don’t know about you, but one day I woke up and my Mom and Dad became the smartest people in the world.  Someday my friends’ kids will understand just how much their parents love them—even though their childish minds rebel today. 
            The point I want to make today—can you trust Mother Church?  Can you see beyond your own opinion, desire or hunch to trust Catholic teachings of faith and morals?  All the while, do you see how even if you kick and scream, the Church continues to feed, guide and protect you through Christ?
            Let’s think of the Church God gave us as a Mother.  And let’s be grateful for such a Mother even though we are often rebellious children!

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