Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Homily – Visitation of Mary – ICOLPH Baccalaureate Mass

Romans 12:9-16
Luke 1:39-56

Your mission should you chose to accept it is to say “Yes” to God and live a life for Christ. It’s spelled out clearly in today’s Word of God. This is a Mission Impossible for many in today’s world.
St. Paul shared this mission with the early Christian community in Rome in today’s first reading. Mary shares the glory of this mission in her beautiful Magnificat as she meets with her cousin Elizabeth.
This is a special mission. One, sadly, not followed by many of our young people in today’s culture. 
Today’s culture encourages us to follow our own will, not the will of God.  Today’s culture encourages us to be rich and famous, and associate with the mighty and powerful.
The visitation is a beautiful example of how we are to live our own lives by saying “Yes” to God’s will. God has a plan for each of our lives.  To find out what it is we must first conform our lives to Christ.
Through Mary’s example we see the glorious beauty of saying “Yes” to God, the importance of living humbly, and the power of associating with the poor and needy.
It saddens me greatly that so many Christians get this wrong due to the infection of today’s way of life. It’s not the Way of Jesus.

And that’s your mission should you choose to accept it.
To follow Christ in all you say and do, to do the will of God in your own life. To inoculate yourself against the infection of our cultural pull to go your own way and leave God behind. Or to be rich or famous.   
My message to you graduates today is to use Mary and Jesus as your life’s models.
Serve others. Not yourselves. Help others. Not yourselves. Love others. Not only yourselves.
Jesus modeled this way of life for us.
Mary was the very model of Christian living. She’s the perfect disciple. She’s humble in accepting the will of God. She becomes the Mother of God, by sacrificing everything to bring to the world our savior.
She even sacrificed her own reputation in her hometown of Nazareth when she arrived home from her visitation to cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah with a growing belly that betrayed her pregnancy to the community.
Now here’s an unmarried 14 year old girl, carrying the very Son of God in her womb. But, to her neighbors in Nazareth, she was just a young woman suspected of sinning by having relations outside of marriage. But this is a woman who never sinned.
I’m sure there were people in her community who wanted her stoned to death. That was the punishment in her day for such offenses. 
But Mary knew she was on a Mission Possible for God. The angel Gabriel told her so when he said all things are possible with God at your side.
Her long barren cousin Elizabeth was pregnant with child after languishing many years. That child would be known as John the Baptist, the prophet who heralded the Messiah.
Mary herself was pregnant with Jesus, not by relations with a man, but by a bond with God, and trust in His promises to her, “his lowly servant.”
Here’s what she said, “From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.”
Mary knew this mission was only possible because God loved her so much that he chose her to bear his only begotten Son.

Then Mary echoes St. Paul words by sharing the actions of God in the world:
God scatters the proud in their conceit. God casts down the mighty from their thrones. God lifts up the lowly, and fills the hungry with good things. God sends the rich away empty.
St. Paul says when we says “Yes” to God and live for Christ, we are to let our love of others be sincere, yes, even to love our enemies, or those who persecute or criticize us.  
We are to hate what is evil and hold on to what is good. We are to show honor to others at all times, and never honor ourselves or think ourselves better than others.
Please remember the next time you SnapChat or Tweet or pose for the perfect selfie.  Always let your actions be for the glory of God, never for your own glory.
We are to serve the Lord. And be people of hope, enduring affliction (the hard times in our lives) through perseverance in prayer.
We are to be people of gratitude, thanking God often for the many blessings in our lives.
We are to show hospitality and mercy to all those we meet, especially those living on the margins, as outcasts in our society.
This is your Mission Possible.
Graduates, are you ready to accept your mission?

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