One of the charges leveled against Christians of all ages is being so heavenly minded we are of no earthly good.  Though that may be true of individuals and perhaps each one of us at some point or other, I believe it is not a correct ‘understanding’ of the church’s dogma, nor particularly of this Feast of the Assumption.  For what the Assumption of Mary celebrates is that all that we are – this body and soul matrix AND our relationship with THIS world in which we live- will be taken up into the victory of Christ.  Mary is always the first fruit of that.  And what Mary’s assumption tells us is that this earthly world of ours, in which we live and move and have our being, also somehow needs to get caught up in that same change.  Or, as one author put it:  God promises us a future beyond time in which all reality is transformed into the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.

I confess, I don’t understand exactly how that is going to all happen. On a personal level – I visit our cemetery enough to know that bodies decay.  That indeed, we are dust and into dust we shall return.  But in the mean time, my spirit enlivens “THIS DUST” – and melds sinew and bone into a body which expresses who I am.  But science tells me that even this “ME” is not as permanent as I might think.  Every 9 months (or something like that) each and every cell that composes my body has been ‘exchanged’.  All the matter that matters –(my me) –, is replaced by new matter, and yet “I” remain.  I persists through those changes.  And somehow that “ME” will have to be present to God at the end of all things.  Like Mary, this body and soul will be caught up into the mystery of God himself.  Transformed, caught up, changed, but still me.

I understand even less about how this Assumption works on a worldly level.  I find myself thinking a lot – wouldn’t this be a nice time for Jesus to return and put everything right.  Clean up the gulf oil spill with a snap of the finger.  Put the economy back on track with a word of command.  End wars and violence.  Heal the victims of the clergy abuse scandal.  Unite the divided parishioners of St. Stanislaus with each other and the Archdiocese.  But if I take the Assumption seriously, then I MUST BE INVOLVED in the transformation of this world.  I must do MY part to make the necessary changes.  That is what it means to cooperate with grace.  That is what Mary did with her yes.  It is what we are invited to do.

Concretely, may I suggest a few things.

1) Take the words:  “It doesn’t matter” out of your vocabulary.  Ban it forever from your lips.  Never let those words: It doesn’t matter pass your vocal chords again.  You see, Every decision DOES matter, on a personal and corporate level, because every decision becomes the “matter” which is going to be transformed.  It matters whether you take care of your health.  It matters that our planet has enough resources to sustain all life, not just in our life time, but for years to come.  It mattes that mom and dad create a safe home environment for their kids.  It matters that all life is sacred and that we treat it so.  Because we believe that life is precious HERE and in the HEREAFTER, all decisions matter.

2) How do you and I honor this BODY” which will one day be caught up in the mystery of God – the resurrection of the dead?  I invite you to inventory for a week what you take into your body.  What do you let your eyes see –what movies, tv shows, websites.  What conversations do you let your ears hear; what music lyrics impinge on them; what sounds of nature do you nurture yourself with.  Look at all the things that you let your body experience.  And then, at the end of the week, look at that inventory.  Are the things listed there worthy of being assumed and changed into the life of heaven?  Are they worthy to be caught up into that transformed, changed life?

Are Christians so heavenly bound that we are no earthly good?  Not if we understand what we celebrate this day…

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Easter wisdom…

Published on 11. Apr, 2010 by in Sunday Homilies


A few years ago, when our 8th grade presented the ‘living’ stations of the cross before our students and faculty, one of our faculty members was visibly moved by the spectacle of ‘Mary’ holding the dead body of her son ‘Jesus’. As she wiped a tear or two from her eye, one of her students, a first grader, looked up, saw the tears, and gently rested her head on the teacher’s arm. Then after a moment, she looked up and quietly asked: “Can I say something that is helpful?” (a code phrase in the classroom) “Sure,” she said. “He didn’t stay dead.”

Out of the mouths of babes, comes the deepest truth about our Lord and savior. “He didn’t stay dead.” And that, to quote the car commercial, changes everything. You see, if Jesus did not remain in the grips of death, if the tomb could not and would not hold the risen one, then it will not hold us either. And though we tend to think of that, usually in an ‘end of my life/days’ type of scenario –‘not staying dead’ is so much more immediate!

You see, ‘not staying dead’ means that there is a power within us that we can draw upon in any situation. And that power is full of LIFE, full of growth, full of change. We’re not stuck in our past mistakes or failures. And, we have an ability to walk into the places of death and bring life, bring change, bring growth. That power calls us to make a difference each day.

‘Not staying dead’ means that there is an URGENCY to our life – a preciousness to each moment, each opportunity to proclaim good news. That is what we hear in the gospel accounts of the resurrection – a kind of breathless excitement. “Go quickly and tell the disciples”, the angel says. The women “went away quickly from the tomb, fearful, yet overjoyed, and ran to tell the apostles”. It records the disciples running to the tomb. Not staying dead means that we run to all the places of the world that need good news spread to them.

As we take these next 50 days of the Easter season to unpack the wonder and mystery of the resurrection, we are meant to do that, not only in our Liturgical celebrations, but by our concrete acts of witness. We are to live and act in a way that cannot be explained except by the presence of the risen Jesus in us. He didn’t stay dead. Neither should we. Neither should we…

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