HOMILY WEEK 33 06 – Year I
Reconciliation – Sign of the Resurrection:
Optional Memorial of St. Clement I
(1 Macc 6:1-13; Ps 9; Lk 20:27-40)
A farmer confessed he had stolen some hay. The priest asked how much he had taken, as he had to know that before giving him a penance and absolution. The farmer replied he didn’t know, as he was getting the rest that night!
Be a child of the resurrection: forgive and learn the art of apologizing.
On the topic of resurrection, Bishop Robert Barron notes that those who hold to the resurrection of the body are those who are most effective at working for justice and peace in this world. If you are a complete materialist and secularist, you hold that everything and everybody, in the end, just fades away. But if you believe in the resurrection of the body, then everything in this world is destined for redemption. Everything matters.
Regarding the end of time, the reply of Jesus to those concerned about the end of the world is this – know that when the fig tree is in blossom, summer is near, and in today’s gospel, “he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Jesus is basically saying not to worry about the end of the world or when the kingdom of God will come – just look for the effects, the evidence of that kingdom and the resurrection of the dead, in our life and around us right here and now.
One great evidence of the presence of the kingdom of God already here is forgiveness, and the art of apologizing or receiving forgiveness. To forgive from the heart is to be like Christ on the Cross. However, reconciliation often means we are the ones who need to ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt or let down. Jesus in Mt 5:23 tells us to leave our gift at the altar if we remember someone has something against us, and to go and be reconciled first.
The art of apologizing involves first of all reminding the other of our transgression; listening to their pain and feelings around that transgression, a sincere apology, then a declaration to change, and finally, the offer to make amends. Then and only then is an apology complete.
King Antiochus in the first reading is an example of someone who should apologize. He knows he has done wrong, but is unable to either soak up the pain of those he has hurt, not apologize, nor make amends. The result is that he is physically sick, depressed and even dying. Had he taken seriously the art of apologizing, he could have even saved his life.
Today the Church offers us the option of honoring St. Clement I, someone who took an active role in seeking reconciliation in the early Church. Pope Clement I is recognized as third in succession to Peter. Other than the fact that he lived in the 1st century, little is known about his life or death. Tradition suggests Clement was a contemporary of Peter and Paul, perhaps a former slave of the imperial court. He was martyred in exile about AD 99. Clement’s fame rests in a letter he wrote to the Church of Corinth when Christians there revolted against their leaders. Intervening as bishop of Rome, he clearly expected obedience, an attitude that demonstrates the primacy of Rome at an early date.
The Eucharist is an experience of God forgiving us, and empowering us to go out and be children of the resurrection – able to not only forgive those who have hurt us, but also to ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt, as a way of building up the kingdom of God right here and right now.