HOMILY WEEK 33 06 – Year I
Reconciliation – Sign of the Resurrection:
Optional Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria
(1 Macc 6:1-13; Ps 9; Lk 20:27-40)
Someone once told me his wife was like an angel. When I wondered how so, he said she was up in the air and always harping!
Today’s gospel invites us to be like the angels, to be children of the resurrection.
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.
Richard Rohr shares an appropriate thought for us. He stresses we don’t so much “think our way into a new way of acting, but act ourselves into a new way of thinking.” That is important because being a child of the resurrection is not reserved for the next life only. At Pentecost, the gift of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead was poured out on the church and they already became children of the resurrection. That was the mission of Jesus as the Messiah – to inaugurate the kingdom of God here on earth, right here and right now.
The way that happens best is to act upon the first words of Jesus as the Messiah who came to redeem and to sanctify; to forgive and to heal, and that is to believe in him and repent.
To repent is to come to him for forgiveness of anything we have ever done, and to receive the healing power of his Spirit to deliver us from any sinfulness, that which made us sin in the first place. That is the first fruits of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and an experience of living in the kingdom already.
Another sign of the presence of the kingdom of God already here is 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 we honour St. Catherine of Alexandria. According to legend, Catherine was a woman of learning in 4th century Alexandria, Egypt, who at the age of 18 converted to Christianity. She was imprisoned for speaking publicly against the Emperor Maximinus’ persecution of Christians. While in prison, she was visited by the empress and the leader of the armed forces, both of whom converted. For this she and they were martyred. Tortured by being strapped to a spiked wheel, Catherine was eventually beheaded about 130 A.D. She is a patron of librarians, teachers, students, jurists, nurses, unmarried girls, philosophers, those who work with wheels (potters, spinners, mechanics, etc.) the dying and several other groups.
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.