Sunday, May 22, 2011

Homily for 5th Sunday of Easter

Last nite (Saturday) I preached without a written text at Willow Towers. So here's an old homily available on the computer.

Homily for the
5th Sunday of Easter
May 20, 1984
1 Pet 2: 4-9
MHC Academy, N. Haledon, N.J.

“Like living stones, be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood” (1 Pet 2: 5).

Many interpreters think that the 1st Letter of Peter is a lengthy baptismal homily. Certainly baptismal themes run through it, which is why the Church chooses it as a series of readings for us in this Easter season.

The baptismal theme today is our common priesthood, the priesthood of all believers, the priesthood of the baptized. The author tells his listeners, those to be baptized and us who have been baptized, “Come to the Lord, the living stone, and be built yourselves into a spiritual house” (cf. 2:4-5). Like Christ, be holy priests.

To what kind of a priesthood are we invited? To one that will “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (4:4); to one that will “declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (4:9). This is the priesthood we all share, the priesthood of Baptism into our Lord Jesus Christ: we offer spiritual sacrifices, and we declare the wonderful works of God.

What kind of spiritual sacrifice are we to offer? What is a sacrifice acceptable to God thru Jesus Christ? An upright and holy life, one in which we die to the selfishness of sin and live to do the Father’s will. We offer ourselves daily as living sacrifices to God, as Christ did. This is spiritual because it’s an act of our hearts and minds, as well as of our bodies, and our bodies aren’t literally consumed by fire or the cross. It is a sacrifice we offer day after day.

How shall we declare God’s wonderful deeds? In the first place, as we are doing now, by celebrating the liturgy, especially the Eucharist. Here we all proclaim in song, in reading, in ritual, and in the great prayer of thanksgiving how God has saved us, how he has sent Christ to lead us out of darkness and into light, out of sin and into grace.

Secondly, we declare God’s works by the witness of our lives. The spiritual sacrifice of our daily lives is seen not only by God but to a great extent by our sisters and brothers. Our lives proclaim God’s goodness to us. Our lives encourage other women and men to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Priesthood and prophecy are intertwined in Christ and in the Christian.

May God the Father be praised for sending us his Sin and for calling us to be his own holy and priestly people in Christ. May we indeed offer him our very selves as we proclaim his great works.

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