Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Homily Twenty Second Sunday of the Year 31 August 2008

[Some sections ad libitum.]

This is my body, broken for you--Feast so you will never hungerThis is my , given for you--Drink that you may never thirstThe body that will nourish you--And bring you to share in my gloryThe that will give you new life--And fill you with love that will not disappointIt costs me everything, yet I give it freely--It is my greatest joy to give my life for youThis is my body--Do this and remember me

These lines make up the first half of a poem by an anonymous author
Te writer reflects upon his devotion to Jesus Christ,
the one for whom these words carry a profound meaning of self-sacrifice:
“This is my Body, given up for you.”
“This is my Body, scourged, beaten, torn open, pierced, and crucified,
for you, that your sins may be forgiven.”
“This is my greatest joy: to give my life that you may have life.”

The selflessness of Christ is perfect, redemptive, and compelling.

In every Mass we commemorate this great Paschal Mystery,
represented on the Altar of Sacrifice.
The body and once broken and poured out on the Cross
is again made present among us and within us
and continues to be the source of life eternal for all who believe.

The second half of the poem is a reflection on a modern expression of these words,
rooted not in selfless sacrifice, like that of Jesus,
but a selfish thirst for personal satisfaction.

In contrast to the Savior’s perfect offering of His body for our salvation
is the self-serving attitude embraced by many in contemporary society –
“This is my body. I can use and abuse it however I please.”
– in particular the so-called “right to choose.”
The poem continues…
This is my body, kept for myself--Barren so I may prosperThis is my , withheld from you--You would steal my vitalityThe body would nourish you--But you must suffer that I may thriveThe would be shed to give you life--But you will bleed to give me “freedom”Your cost is too high, I will not pay it--You are my shame, you are not wantedThis is my body--You are soon forgotten

Today, we encounter people who, in a variety of unfortunate ways,
view their own human bodies and the bodies of others as objects to be used
rather than beautiful works of art fashioned by God
and living signs of His loving presence and creative genius.

Odd and numerous piercings and tattoos
mutilate and disfigure the body as God created it.
Immodest dress fails to recognize the dignity of the body
and makes it into an object of for another.

In contrast to the attitude of the world,
the Church echoes the wisdom of Saint Paul,
who calls us Catholic Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.

The human body is God’s crowning achievement in His masterpiece of the universe
and a temple of the Holy Spirit by virtue of our Baptism.
We are called to honor and please God by the way we treat our bodies
and to view them as holy creations,
which are involved in our total act of worship.

Paul reminds us, too that we are called to be holy, to seek to know the will of God
and to conform ourselves to His will rather than the attitudes of this age.

It is providential that this Sunday follows Friday’s feast…
for there is a spiritual theme that connects today’s reading from Saint Paul
with the Gospel of the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist.
John the Baptist prepared for his as a martyr by the way he lived His life…
He denied Himself constantly and so did not hesitate to give even his life,
as he was beheaded by Herod…
From conception, he proclaimed the presence of the Messiah, as was his vocation,
and stood up in defense of the truth….
He could have taken the easy road and kept his mouth shut about Herod’s marriage,
but it was not who he was…
He could not ignore the truth and he paid the ultimate price….
In contrast is Herod’s selfishness, who took John’s life only to please his guests…

John the Baptist laid down his life in little ways every day,
denying himself, offering his body as a living sacrifice for the glory of God,
until finally he have his head for the sake of the Gospel.

No less is asked of us, who call ourselves Christians.

We can take the easy road.
We can go with the flow of the world’s attitude, and be comfortable and popular.

As ship is safe in the harbor. But that’s not why a ship is built.
It’s always safer to avoid risk.
But the easy road is not what Saint John the Baptist, or Saint Paul,
or you and I have been called to follow.

It’s not who we are, for we are the body of Christ.
Be who you are. Offer your bodies and lives as living sacrifices for Christ.
Find in him the peace, the love, and the joy that lasts forever!

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