18 August, Sunday – Which house will be your home?

18 Aug 2019

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Jeremiah 38:4-6,8-10

The king’s leading men spoke to the king. ‘Let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. The fellow does not have the welfare of this people at heart so much as its ruin.’ ‘He is in your hands as you know,’ King Zedekiah answered ‘for the king is powerless against you.’ So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well of Prince Malchiah in the Court of the Guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the well, only mud, and into the mud Jeremiah sank.
  Ebed-melech came out from the palace and spoke to the king. ‘My lord king,’ he said ‘these men have done a wicked thing by treating the prophet Jeremiah like this: they have thrown him into the well, where he will die.’ At this the king gave Ebed-melech the Cushite the following order: ‘Take three men with you from here and pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies.’

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Hebrews 12:1-4

With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.

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Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!
  ‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

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…five in one household will be divided

This is such a tough, somewhat confusing teaching from Christ upon the first read, and certainly when we were children. We see Christ as the peacemaker, filled with love, forgiveness, mercy and bringing us all together – yet here he speaks of division, and in the very house we live in. He tells us he came to bring division in our very own house. We look to our house, our home, as a place of joy and love and acceptance, a place where we are all one. And yet, Christ is telling us in no uncertain terms, that He will divide our house.

That division is the pivotal ‘place’ where we make the choice. Where our free will is carried out. Will we choose to focus on our house on this earth, and all things and people of this world, or will we look to our true home – with God? St. Augustine says, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Home. For most people that is the most desired place to be. The place where we simply are, who we really are; where all facets of us, the good, the bad and the ugly, are accepted, known and still loved. There is nothing like ‘going home’, especially when you know there is someone(s) there waiting for you, someone(s) who can’t wait to see you and hug you and just sit next to you and be in your space. There truly is nothing like the enveloping comfort of home.

Is that not the best definition of our Catholic faith and the place — the house — that holds the Eucharist? When I am at mass, and especially when I sit in Adoration, that is the overall feeling I experience. Total acceptance and omnipresent love because in that place, I am truly home. I am totally known. I am totally accepted and loved. In many ways, that is the only place on this earth where any of us are truly home. All other places are really just worldly houses.

I am so grateful for my Catholic faith, for mass, for being able to walk into any Catholic church in the entire world, from the biggest and most grandiose cathedrals and basilicas to the smallest and simplest country churches and squeezed in churches in overcrowded concrete cities. Even in a Catholic church in a country that speaks a language foreign to me, I am still home. I can still communicate, I can still understand, because I am with my family in our Father’s house, in our Father’s home on earth. The overwhelming comfort and belonging that I encounter when I attend mass, even when alone and not in my ‘home’ church, surpasses understanding. During mass, I know that all the angels and saints in heaven are in that house of prayer with me, as are all those I love most dearly on this earth.  We are all experiencing that same ‘home’. I am lifted high because this sense of belonging is not only about the fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, but because of the mystery of the Eucharist. The holiness of a Catholic Church during the consecration, or in Adoration, is indescribable. It can only be felt through prayer – even when human words cannot be found, because our bodies are praying without words – how could that not be true when our Lord and Savior is present.

And yet, with all that we receive from being in God’s house, still this world loudly calls us to other places physically, mentally and emotionally. Still it can be a fight, and even more sadly, a chore, to make it to mass with enough time to sit in quiet prayer and properly prepare our hearts and minds for our Lord in the mass. For myself, I know that when I arrive early, I am able to let go of the day, the week, the worries, the plans, the to-do list that preoccupies my mind. And that is when I am emptied out of ‘myself’ and able to talk to God with a contrite heart so that I can be filled to the brim with Him. Again.

Mark Hart said, “Prayer doesn’t help our relationship with God, prayer IS our relationship with God”, so of course, prayer should be a constant stream in our life. Like many, I pray throughout the day. Lots of little prayers and lots of little ‘thank you’s. Praying outside in nature when I am taking in the glorious creations of our God brings a joy and peace that washes over me. Yes, nature is God’s home, but, there is a sense of His Holy Presence in our Catholic churches, in the house of prayer for all people, like no where else on earth.

Let us always remember that our real home is one that is not divided.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father God how we praise your name! We are so grateful for your gift of our faith and the church that holds the Eucharist, You. We kneel in amazement at your gifts to us, including the gift of being able to simply talk to You. We desire to live in communication with you and release the stronghold this world has on us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for listening to us. Thank you Father, for always calling us to You. Thank you Father, for never tiring of hearing our voices, and giving us your peace when we let go of all and come to You.

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