Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Lenten Liturgy of Reconciliation April 3, 2009. Ken Hughes, SJ
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Lenten Liturgy of Reconciliation April 3,2009.  Ken Hughes, SJ

 

“How lovely your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!”

 

“As the sparrow finds a home and as the swallow a nest for her young,

My home is by your altars, Lord of hosts, my king and my God.”

 

“Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked.”

 

Most of us here come from far and wide to find a home at St. Mary of the Angels.

Many were born in distant countries in South and Central America, in the Caribbean and Asia.  Many come from outside neighborhoods: like Dorchester and Roslindale, Chestnut Hill and Newton, Cambridge and Walpole, perhaps even further beyond.  Each of us brings to the community a different culture.  And, by culture, I mean all that makes us who we are, our identity, all that makes us different from one another.  This cultural diversity makes St. Mary of the Angels a unique and special parish in the Archdiocese of Boston, especially because you/we try to interweave all these cultures into the one culture of St. Mary of the Angels.

 

When we use the word culture, we tend to think of ethnic cultures or national cultures such as Puerto Rican or Dominican or American or Cambodian or Jamaican, etc. but there are also neighborhood cultures and family cultures and personal cultures.  Though growing up in the same home, I recognize that my siblings and I developed different cultures by the different schools we attended, the  different friends we made, the different activities we belonged to.   And believe me, the youngest in a family (like me) grows up in a different culture than the oldest simply by being the youngest.  One’s place in the family makes a big difference. Our experiences are different.

 

This amazing variety reflects the infinity of God who wants to be reflected in an infinity of faces.  Our God is not boring and did not create a boring world.  Cultures are like the colors of a rainbow, beautiful in themselves, but spectacular when brought together across the sky.  The rainbow is a sign of God’s faithful love, God’s mercy.  I see this wonderful rainbow here at St. Mary of the Angels at the sign of peace when silence erupts into greeting, bodies flow out into the aisles, and the choir raises a joyful hymn.

 

But, we know that not all is harmony, peace, and joy:  neither at St. Mary of the Angels, nor in our communities, nor in our homes, and not in ourselves.

Instead of supporting one another, we can stand apart.

Instead of appreciating community differences, we can cling to our own ways.

Instead of sending forth loving words, we can poison the air with gossip.

Instead of working toward communion, we can foster division.

Instead of looking at our own failings, we can blame others.

 

Tradition has it that St. John, the author of the Fourth Gospel, used to preach just one sermon to his community, the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  People complained because they heard the same words over and over and over.  “John,” they said, “Don’t you have another sermon to preach?”  He is said to have replied, “But, you haven’t understood this one yet!”

 

“Love one another as I have loved you.”  God is love.  God is more than love.  The Hebrew says, “God is loving mercy.”  And this Loving Mercy is “God’s innermost being turned outward to sustain the visible and created world in unbreakable love.”  (Bourgeault: “Mystical Hope” p. 25).  Loving Mercy binds people together in a “covenant of hearts.” (Bourgeault. Ibid.)

 

In whatever way, we are broken and need healing; in whatever way, we have sinned and ask forgiveness; in whatever way, we are enslaved and seek freedom, let us bring ourselves humbly and gratefully before God’s infinite mercy, and, bathed in that mercy, may we be more merciful to others.  It is when we receive mercy and give mercy that we come home to God, to ourselves, and to our community.

 

“My home is by your altars, Lord of Hosts, my king and my God.”

I want to make my home in You, Lord,  and ask You to make your home in me and in our community.

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