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Homily – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Did You See That?

February 2, 2009


Homily Audio

Did you see that?

You know, sometimes it takes an awful lot to impress us.  It’s hard for us to just take something at face value; it has to sing, or dance, or work a miracle to get our attention.

That must be part of human nature, because it’s always been like that.  Adam and Eve get the whole garden, they walk with God in it, and all they have to do is not eat from one little tree.  And what happened?  Moses leads the Israelites through the Red Sea to safety.  They watch Pharaoh’s army get swallowed up by the waters, and they get completely away.  And what happens?  They soon make a golden calf to worship in place of the God who saved them!

And we, in some ways, are sometimes even worse.  We know so much.  We can explain things that ancient peoples like the Israelites couldn’t even imagine.  And because we’re so smart, we miss some things.  Because we know so much, we forget about things that ought to be simple.  And we set up the false gods of money, or security, or status, to make us feel better.

But God constantly calls us to know Him.  God constantly invites us to believe Him.  And He constantly reaches out to us, asking us simply to love Him.  For us to hear Him, though…we have to pay attention to the signs around us.

God made it relatively easy for the people of Israel.  He gave them sign after sign.  Moses brought them out of Egypt.  Moses fed them in the desert.  Moses saved them from the snakes.  Later, other prophets worked signs and wonders.  They predicted things for Israel.  It was obvious these guys were working for God.

Then Jesus shows up, and all heaven breaks loose!  Blind people start seeing, lame people start walking. Even demons call Jesus out by name!  And people are impressed!  They saw who Jesus was, and they followed Him!

But God didn’t always show up in Person for everyone; not everyone got to see Jesus work His miracles first-hand.  And those who weren’t standing right there sometimes had trouble believing.  After all, anyone can make up a story.

But what ended up making the difference for the folks who couldn’t see Jesus for themselves?  What made the difference was the way in which those who told the stories of Jesus lived their lives.  It wasn’t just that they told nice stories; it was that their lives changed.  Those people who were preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ lived what they believed.  And no amount of persecution could get them to back down from the Truth!

Most of us have no first-person experiences of God.  Like ALL of the early Christians after the time of the Apostles, we have to depend on stories from others to understand who God is, who Jesus is.  We have to read, and study, and pray in order to understand how Jesus wants to change our lives, and who God is calling us to be.  We have to use the sacraments, those visible signs of invisible grace that Jesus established to help us on our way.

But even more importantly: we have to be prophets for one anotherWe have to speak God’s truth.  We have to tell others what God expects of us all.  And we have to live our lives in a way that tells others that we know God, that we know Jesus.  This is what Christ left for us to do:  To go out into the whole world, preaching the Gospel through our lives.  To go out, according to our state in life, and be the next generation of prophets, with God’s words in our mouths!

But still…isn’t it hard to do that when we can’t see all of this stuff?  Isn’t it hard to stand up for what’s right, for what’s good, when most people around us are doing the opposite?

It is tough, brothers and sisters.  But that’s when our witness is that much more effective!  When the families with four, five, or even ten children come to Mass, or go out in public as a family, it’s hard to take the stares and the snide comments.  But showing off their large families is a witness to the world of God’s love for life!  When the conversation at work or turns bad, it’s hard to walk away and not participate.  But walking away without judging the other participants is a witness to the power of Christ in our lives.  At school, when everyone else is ostracizing the new kid, or the geek, it’s hard to expose ourselves to being made fun of alongside him or her.  But what a witness to God’s power in our lives to do it anyway!

God might perform some great miracle in our midst.  He can certainly do it if He chooses to.  But our faith shouldn’t depend on seeing those great big demonstrations of His power.  If we pay attention to the thousands of little testimonies around us, if we turn our lives into a thousand little prophetic signs, then we won’t miss out on seeing God active in the world!

God shows off in lots of ways. Some of them are big, ostentatious things; others are small and quiet.  We have to watch for signs of God in our lives, because they are sometimes so subtle that we can miss them.

And we have to stay humble, lest we fall into the trap of thinking that we know everything, and that we don’t need God for anything.

We have a choice to make about how we’re going to live.  We have a choice to make about how we’re going to represent the One who sends us out into the world to speak His words.

God is calling us to know Him.  God is inviting us to believe Him.  God is reaching out to us, asking us simply to love Him.  Pay attention to the signs.  And don’t be afraid…to be a prophet.

From → Homilies

One Comment
  1. Deacon Chip,

    God bless you for all the work you do. Especially in west Tennessee. Your insightful analysis and comments are greatly appreciated and you certainly have our prayers as you witness for Christ in a predominant non-Catholic region of the country.

    You live in an extraordinary place where Catholic vocations are booming and are fueling the resurgence of orthodoxy in American Catholicism. With the great leadership of JP2 and the excellent Reform of the Reform by Pope Benedict XVI, you are on the frontlines for the soldiers of Christ. Keep the faith and you will certainly be rewarded when you approach ever closer to Our Lord and Savior.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,



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