24th Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

For most of my life I would have struggled to answer Jesus’ question:  “But who do you say that I am?”  It would have been more instinctive to think of Jesus in terms of a “what” rather than a “who.”  I would have called Jesus “God.”  And while Jesus certainly is God, I don’t think my understanding had much impact on my life, it did not touch my heart.  In living my faith, I would say that I kind of “went through the motions.”  I went to Mass on Sundays, to Confession once or twice a year, said the “Our Father” some nights before falling to sleep and generally wanted to be seen as a good person.  I don’t think there is anything so bad in any of this.  What was lacking was a clear sense of why I did these things.  I went to the sacraments because I had to; I said a quick prayer because maybe God would get me back if I didn’t;  and, I tried to be good because I didn’t want to get into trouble with my parents.  With the exception of fearing God, I didn’t give God much thought in seeking to live my faith.  Over the years there have been changes.  There were times when I would have labeled Christ as Saviour and Redeemer, teacher, and a friend and brother.  I was asked this summer how I understand Jesus.  I fumbled around for a time, trying to say the right words and avoiding what I feel in my heart.  Finally, I just said what I feel – he is everything to me.

I know that this answer may seem less clear than the different titles we can give to him, titles that correspond to his action. Yet it is honest.  The question Jesus asks is to be answered by each of us.  Our answer is not an idea or theory which makes everything logical and clean.  It is instead a word or words that almost gently rise from the depths of our hearts.  And in coming from our hearts its power is incomparable. When we hear St James say, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?  So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  To St James we can immediately say, “Yes! This is the way faith is to look. It is the one that I want.”  It isn’t that on the one hand we have faith and on the other we have works, but that these two are really one for a disciple of the Lord.  Faith and good works is like the air we breathe to speak and the words that come from our mouths.  Can we separate the two?  Without the one we cannot have the other.  And so the good works we seek to do give voice to the faith within our hearts.

Our hearts are touched by his words and actions, both of which always proclaim and reveal one thing – the love of the Father for each of us.  Our hearts become more than touched, they become a little more filled with his love.  As we receive his love we are saved, redeemed, converted and transformed into his love.  So doing good works gives expression and form to what is burning within us.  What burns within us?  His love inflames our hearts with love.  We are coming to know love ever more and love is becoming our way of believing and living.  St Francis Xavier wrote: “It is not the actual physical exertion that counts toward a person's progress, nor the nature of the task, but the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken."  And what is being undertaken by us? Love is!  And why is love being undertaken?  “You are the Christ,” because you Lord, are everything to us. 

God Bless, and Take Care!

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