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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Catholic Diversity - Yet United

Last weekend I heard a great homily by Father Jonathan Molina that spoke of the Body of Christ, most specifically the Body of Christ within the Catholic Church. It is easy to identify the differences that we all have, but we must never forget, just like a traditional family, there is conflict at times, disagreement, and even fighting, yet we are family.

In his humility, Father Jonathan stated that this homily was not entirely original, borrowed and adapted (However, are not most homilies similarly borrowed and adapted?)

Homily - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Describing the Catholic Church, James Joyce, an Irish writer and poet, once said, “Here comes everybody.”

What an apt description! Here comes everybody.

Here comes Peter, the denier. Here comes Thomas the doubter. Here comes Judas, the betrayer.

Here comes Augustine, a converted pagan. Here comes Ignatius, a soldier. Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher. Here comes Paul, a tent-maker.

Here comes the outspoken Catherine of Sienna and the quiet Therese of Lisieux.

Here comes Martin de Porres, Juan Diego, Father Damien, Lorenzo Ruiz. Here comes Francis, preaching to the birds and Claire, dancing in the fields.

We are all that and even more.

We are monks who copied scripture onto parchment, and preserved God’s word during one of the darkest times in history.

We are priests and nuns who could barely speak the language, but came to an unruly place called America and created the most extensive parochial school system on earth, passing on what we knew, and what we believed.

We are laborers from Italy and Poland and Germany and Ireland who arrived in Brooklyn with nothing, and left behind towering temples of stone and glass in what we now call a City of Churches.

We are G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Merton, Pope John Paul.
We are John Wayne, Oscar Wilde and Susan Boyle. We are Newt Gingrich, Ted Kennedy, Tony Blair and Fulton Sheen. We are Sean Hannity and even Michael Moore.

We are Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day and Caesar Chavez and Mother Theresa.

We are the soldier in Iraq praying the rosary, we are the teenager who walked the Walk for Life today in San Francisco, we are the woman in Haiti – devastated and lost, we are the immigrant in the barrio with Our Lady of Guadalupe tattooed on our back.

We are Fr. Corapi and Fr. Hebda. We are Fr. Uriel and Fr. Jonathan. We are Deacon Ray, Deacon Pat and Deacon Everett. We are Mother Angelica and Sr. Maura.

We are the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters of America. We are the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Agape Charismatic Prayer Group.

We are young and old, rich and poor. We are saints and sinners. Yet, we are - the Body of Christ. Not perfect. Not whole. Broken. Bruised. In need of healing, in need of grace. Yet we are - the body of Christ.

Like a stained glass window. We are those different glasses. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. Some are big, some are small.

When we bring our faces close to the stained glass window, we can admire the beauty of each glass, the way it’s cut colored, and shaped.

But as we step back from it, we can see that all these different glasses, all these different colors and shapes reveal to us another beautiful picture, a more complete picture, telling a story none of these different stained glasses can tell by itself.

That is what being the body of Christ is about.
That is what our life in a community is about.

Each of us is like a little glass with a different shape and color, yet a little piece of a magnificent work of art. No one can really say, “You are different. You do not belong. I do not need you. I alone make God visible” – No - only together, as everybody, do we reveal the body of Christ, the face of God to the world.

Let others who see us then – as the Catholic Church, as the Catholic Church in this Northern part of California, as the parish of Our Lady of Mercy, be able say to say: "They make God visible.”

That is what being the body of Christ is about!

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