NB. This is a "children's Mass."
3rd Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St Anthony's Church, NOLA
The Word of God reveals to us more than just the history of our faith – the stories of the prophets, the heroes of the OT, the life of Christ. The Word of God is more than a collection of wise sayings and calls to righteousness. When we use the phrase “the Word of God” we are saying a number of different things all at the same time. We're saying “the Bible.” We're saying “the Son of God.” We're saying “Christ Jesus.” We're saying “the living Church.” In fact, as followers of Christ, baptized with water and confirmed in the Spirit, we are also saying “us.” Yes, we too are the Word of God sent out into the world to be Christ for others. In the beginning God the Father breathed with the Spirit one word – Christ – over the void and all things that are came to be. We are – down to the molecular level – participants in the Divine Word, who is life and life eternal. When we hear the scripture read at Mass, we listen to God's voice. When we hear the Mass prayed, we listen to God's voice. When we do all that we ought as followers of Christ, we listen to God's voice, and we rejoice b/c who we are rings true when we turn from sin and live in His Kingdom.
Jesus begin his preaching with a simple call: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” This probably sounds like a churchy cliché to you, or maybe a threat – “Turn or burn!” But it's actually an invitation, an invitation to return to God and participate fully in His kingdom. We're not to Lent just yet – we have exactly one month from today – but the need for repentance is never far off. Repenting of our sins can seem a bit old-fashioned, maybe even a little scary but there is nothing easier. Everything we need to return to God is given to us by God. He helps us turn b/c He wants us to return to Him. We need to return b/c we are not whole without Him. This is why He has given us His Word – in the scriptures, in His Son, in the sacraments, and in His Church. . .us. And b/c we exist as both sinners and saints we sometimes have difficult lives. When we stray as sinners, we lose our way and the darkness makes it hard to find our way home. But when we are saints, the world constantly tempts us off the narrow way, and we struggle to find His peace. BUT if we listen, listen carefully, His Word will speak to us and guide us back to Him. We all have great teachers in our lives, people to show us how to listen to God. Our parents, our grandparents, our school teachers, our priests and deacons and religious. And most importantly, God's saints! They know Him personally, and they want to do everything they can to keep us on the narrow path.
We are celebrating Mardi Gras right now – King Cakes, beads, doubloons, parades – all the stuff that makes our hometown of New Orleans famous all over the world. This is a time for us to celebrate with our family and friends, and it is also a time for us to remember that God made us – flesh and blood – to live in this world. But He also made us live with Him in heaven. Whether or not come to live with Him in heaven is our choice. He gives us everything we can possibly need to make the right choice. So, when Jesus says, “Repent,” he's telling us to look carefully and closely inside and, if we need to, turn away from sin and return to him. We are – each one of us – a word of God sent into the world to become Christ for others. So, I ask you: will you be Christ for your family and friends? Will you be Christ for those who do not yet know him? Will you choose to the loudest, brightest, most colorful Word of God you can be? You have everything you need! Go! Be Christ and speak his Word!
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