Homily for the
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Aug. 13, 2017
Residence, Silver Spring, Md.
I was originally scheduled to go to a parish for Mass on the 13th, but due to my having to leave for retreat, I was relieved of that. But with a little tweaking I used the homily I’d already mostly drafted at home, instead. This is the "parish" text.
“Bring to perfection in our hearts the spirit of adoption as yours sons and daughters” (Collect).
The Collect of today’s Mass uses the word spirit twice. The 1st use notes that we have been taught by the Holy Spirit to call God our Father—we “dare” to do that under the prompting of the Spirit. The 2d use asks our Father to perfect in us “the spirit of adoption” as his children.
How has the Holy Spirit taught us? We’ve listened to the teachings of Jesus, who taught us how we ought to pray. Now, many people have read the Gospels or heard the Lord’s Prayer. But not all have believed the Gospels or taken them to heart. If we have done so, it’s because the Holy Spirit has moved our hearts, convinced our minds, urged us to listen to Jesus and become his disciples. This is a great grace, given to us not out of our merits but purely out of God’s goodness.
Jesus is truly the Son of God—by origin, by his divine nature: “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, consubstantial with the Father,” as we say weekly in the Creed.
We are not sons and daughters of God by nature. We can become so by grace, by adoption as children of the One whom we dare to address as “Father” because Jesus has taught us to do so. He’s done more than teach us that we’re God’s children. He makes us God’s children by adoption; makes us his own sisters and brothers.
How so? 1st, in his preaching he says that anyone who does the will of his Father is his brother or sister, even his mother (Mark 3:34-35). Being related to God is not a matter of nature but of super-nature. Thru Christ we can receive the gift of a union of our wills with his Father’s will that draws us into a family relationship with his Father, into adoption.
2d, the Spirit led us to the saving water of Baptism, where we were born anew of water and Spirit (cf. John 3:5) and were anointed with sacred chrism; and by being chrismated (I’m not sure that’s a real word) were made christs, made brothers and sisters of the Christ, God’s Anointed One, Jesus of Nazareth. As the Spirit anointed him at his baptism in the Jordan and brought a declaration from heaven, “You are my beloved Son” (Mark 1:11), so the Spirit anointed us at sacramental Baptism and made us God’s adopted children.
Post-baptismal chrismation at the Easter Vigil
Holy Cross, Champaign, Ill., April 15, 2017
Photo by Dave Devall
The Collect prayed that the Father “bring to perfection in our hearts [this] spirit of adoption.” To be brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, to do the will of his heavenly Father, requires that our hearts become like the heart of Jesus, that they be more and more perfectly aligned with his way of thinking, willing, and acting. Our hearts need constantly to be converted from their innate selfishness and brought to the perfection that we see in Jesus. So we pray that the Father bestow an abundance of his Holy Spirit upon us to work over our hearts, to shape them, to conform them to the heart of his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.