Acts 1: 15-17, 20a, 20c-26, 1 John 4:11-16; John 17:11b-19

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas lay underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

1 John 4:11-12

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

My attention this week has been drawn to these two verses from the First Letter of John.

Every homily should both challenge and encourage its deliverer and its listeners -- and these 37 words construct a slew of springboards to do so. We each need a good dose of both spiritual encouragement and challenge each day (if not each hour): Encouragement to help dust us off after we have tumbled into a ditch of sin, despair or spiritual apathy and Challenge to keep us walking in the center of the road -- away from the ditches.

We return again this week to the theme of love -- a love that is both encouraging and challenging. What one might find attractive is the logic of John which communicates the following:

God has freely chosen to love us.

Our natural response should be to love others.

We can not see God.

But, the act of loving another reveals the presence of God.

So, If you want to reveal the presence of God it can be done by loving.

On the other hand, If you want to see the presence of God it can be seen by recognizing the love of others.

How does this encourage us? Our God loves us and that love can remain in us in perfection.

How does this challenge us? Our choices matter greatly -- we must choose to love in order to manifest the love of God in the world.

HOMILY: We all would perhaps like to see the face of God in this life -- in this world. It would be inspiring, faith-filling and wonderous. Nevertheless, sacred scripture does not give us a whole lot of hope of this happening here and now in this life.

Job longs for the day it will happen: I know that my Redeemer lives and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

The Psalmist longs for it to happen also: My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

Jesus tells of the eternal fate of the pure of heart as he says -- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

And, the Lord Himself informs Moses that seeing His glory in its fullness would be too much for man to withstand: Moses said -- I pray thee, show me thy glory. And the LORD said -- I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name -- The LORD -- and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But, he said -- you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.

So, in short, it does not look good for old Jimmy Mazzone to see God face to face in this life -- and I do not frequent many clefts.

However, as a spin-off of the GOT MILK? advertising campaign that one sees in magazines and billboards, I imagine a SEEN GOD? campaign (perhaps make these two signs as props).

If the answer to SEEN GOD? is YES, then it might be according to the way John explains above (an alternative answer might have to do with seeing God in creation -- nature, etc.)

In other words, if you have seen love radiate from another person , then you have seen God, and recognizing this connection can significantly enhance the spiritual life of a person. It provides a divine way of looking at life.

Another advertising campaign might read SHOWN GOD? (another prop perhaps) In other words, have we loved, and by doing so have we radiated the love of God -- the presence of God for others to see and feel? Recognizing this connection can also significantly enhance the spiritual life of a person. It provides a divine way of living life to its fullness -- to perfection.

Here is a story that might illustrate some of this:

STORY: Harry Kildier, age 28, had just been installed as the newest Eucharistic minister in an old, ethnic parish in the inner city. He was fairly new to the parish, moving to the city after landing a job in a large downtown hospital and research center. He was glad to volunteer for this ministry and was eager to begin on the morning of his first day off and bring Eucharist to the elderly and to the home-bound who lived in the area of the parish territory -- about 15 city blocks.

He felt special carrying the ciborium filled with hosts outside of the mammoth church doors and began to make his way down the busy city streets. Half way through his visits through the neighborhood he decided to take a newly learned short cut through an alley in order to get to an area nursing home before they began serving lunch to the residents. He turned a corner and walked into a wall of gang members who began to threaten him and accuse him of being the wrong color for that part of the city.

Harry held tightly on to the ciborium; but when he was shoved against the wall he lost his balance and the hosts were strewn about the alley, the garbage pails and under the feet of the gang members who ground them into the dirt and pavement. He was badly beaten, and faced a long recovery in the hospital that he was employed by with a broken nose, collarbone, arm, bruised ribs and a lung contusion.

The Catholic community was outraged at this news and especially by the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament. The story was picked up by the city newspaper and even made its way into national newspapers through the Associated Press and National Catholic Newspapers. Pressure was put on the Bishop of the diocese to release a statement to reporters at a news conference. After some deliberation the Bishop agreed to meet with reporters and made the following statement: The Church is saddened at this senseless act of violence and by the disrespect and desecration of the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament; however we are quite sure that God will survive. He has faced worse.

Who we are more concerned about at this time is Mr. Harry Kildier and the presence of God in him. We ask for your prayers that Mr. Kildier recovers from his serious injuries and that we recognize the violence done to the presence and love of God that resides in him through his ministry.

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