The following is a homily delivered by Fr. Matthew Habiger on January 28, 2015.
Faith demands that we are conscious of living in two worlds. This visible, material world, with its daily demands seems to be so real. But is it? Ask yourself: What happened one year ago today? We can’t remember. So this visible world is very passing and can’t be all that real. All we have in the past are memories. All we have in the uncertain future are hopes and tentative plans.
The real world is elsewhere; with God. God is unseen, but very real. He is something like unseen gravity, and the other three fundamental forces in the universe. They are all unseen, but if they were not there, then the material universe would fall apart into chaos. Our God is immaterial, not subject to the limitations of matter. He can’t be seen by our physical eyes. But He is more real than anything we can see, or sense.
Our God has taken the initiative to reveal himself, and his intentions for us. We can know him. We can enter into a relationship with him. We can understand the purpose of our lives while living on this earth, the mystery of life. Jesus explained the Kingdom of God in veiled, mysterious ways, by means of parables. The parables begin with our experience in this world, and then point us to another, more profound, world, which we do not see. Jesus is the lamp, the light, the source of all illumination. You can’t hide a lamp. Rather, you place it where all can benefit from its illumination. The full meaning of the parables will one day become perfectly clear. In faith, they are already clear.
Jesus wants his followers to be bearers of his light, lanterns in the dark, beacons of truth. That is what a parish is meant to be for its neighborhood. That is what a monastery is meant to be for a very wide circle of influence.
Jesus says that we are to be very generous with ourselves to others. He is the greatest model of that. When sent by the Father into our world to accomplish our atonement, our at-one-ment, with God, Jesus gave himself completely to that task. Whatever the Father wanted, that is what Jesus did. “Thy will be done.” He took upon himself our fallen nature, but was never a sinner. He withstood real temptation. He suffered and died a pitiful, horrendous death so that we might become victorious over sin and death. Now he assures us that the measure we give will be the measure we get back in return.
May we place all our hopes, the treasure of our heart, in that world which will endure forever, which will never decay and disappear. May we find the Person, who is the object of our deepest longing. May the real world give guidance and direction to all that we do in this ephemeral world.
The author of the Book of Hebrews encourages us to persevere: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works … encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:23-4).