St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

“Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Phil 2:5)          -Homily October 25, 2015

 

Last Sunday, the apostles were looking for positions, and Jesus had to remind them that the kingdom of God is not about positions but about service. We follow a King who came to serve, and so if the King is serving our needs we’d better serve the needs of our brothers and sisters. He came to give sight to the blind, to share what he had with those who do not have, to share his happiness with those who do not have a meaning in life. He came to help, to serve, not to be served.

 

It is the secret of life. People who live for themselves, people who work for their own interests have to constantly set boundaries, keep watch over their possessions, defend themselves from those who want to have the same things they have, protect themselves from those who threaten their own comfort, etc. For these people, every thing and every person are taken as a means to obtain their own happiness, or as a limit to their own happiness. When we work only for ourselves and for our own interests, other people are considered sometimes as threats to our own comfort or glory, or at best as useful to obtain what we want. But the centre is ourselves.

 

I am not talking only about rich people or important people. From the Pope to the last priest, from the president to the simplest employee, we are all subject to this. In our own family, a partner may take the other partner as a limit or as a competitor, or as a means to obtain some gratification. Parents can see their own children as limits, as an economic burden, or also as a means to obtain glory for themselves: “Look at what my child does.” We priests, also, could use our leadership for our own glory, to satisfy our own interests… and then forget the sick, for example, or the poor, or those in prison, just because we do not get a certain gratification from them. May the Lord forgive us our sins, and give us time to repair what we have done!

 

Pope Francis says in his message for the World Mission Sunday that the mission, “directed preferentially to the least among us, is a sign of the Kingdom that Jesus came to bring.” In other words, you can tell that there is really love for Christ when there is love for the poor. I am very happy to remember now that the collection for the refugees was a success. How happy is the Lord when we take care of the poor!

 

When we use people to enjoy things we are not happy. The life of a person who works for success “no matter what or who” does not succeed. Competitors for success are always stressed, always fighting, and finally left alone. Success in life is to love and to be loved. It is to imitate the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve. St. Paul, when speaking about the Incarnation of the Son of God to the Philippians, he says: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:5-9). “To have the attitude of Christ Jesus” means the desire to serve, not to be served, because to love others means to serve them, not to use them. And you know that there is no greater happiness than to love, than to see joy in your friend because of your love, and sometimes because of your sacrifice.

 

Maybe this was the point I wanted to make. The Son of God did not become man for his own sake, but for our sake. He wanted to give us his glory, the eternal happiness of God himself in Heaven. But there was a problem: our sins made it impossible for us to enter into communion with God, and none of us could offer God a sacrifice of forgiveness, because we were not pure. There was the need for a sacrifice, but no one who could offer it. We had a problem, not God. But for God, our problem became his own problem. He took it personally. He wanted to make us happy, to enter into communion with us, but between him and us there were our sins. He took them away by his cross, he cleared the way for us, for our sake, so that now, if we want, we can embrace our God, the only one who can fill our heart with joy now and forever. The interest of Jesus was our own interest. It was our problem, not his, but he took it personally. But, look: when he did that for us, we left him alone, we were not there. He died alone for our sins. And even now, we still leave him alone. Every time we do not repent of our sins. Every time we do not care very much about the occasions of sin, or consider sin something of everyday life, or not a big deal.

 

This is more important than it may appear at first. Communion with Jesus, salvation, is not possible if he suffers for my sins and I instead enjoy them, or do not bother to do penance for my sins. I have to repent of my sins, I have to suffer, be sorry for my sins. I have to help my brothers and sisters to repent and I have to do penance for them too. And when we do that we are happy, because our heart and the heart of Jesus burn with the same love. People who really repent of their sins sometimes cry for joy. It is so beautiful to feel the love of God! Jesus did what he did because he was in love with us, and when we enter that torrent of love, our life becomes beautiful like the life of Jesus, because we are one with him.

 

Finally, all this has something to do with vocations to the mission. Because what inspires a young woman or a young man to go to the missions is a great desire to join Jesus in his concern for the world. When we contemplate how much Jesus did for us, we may be won over to his heart. “If he did so much for me, I want to do something for him. He didn’t count the price, I will not count the price. He died for me, I want to do the same.” Dear friends, we are all called to the mission in our own vocation, to serve others and not ourselves. May the Lord give us a missionary spirit, so that we may share with others the love of God we have received, the joy of the Gospel, the Gospel of joy.  –Fr. Andrew