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11th Sunday of the Year, June 16-17, 2012

posted Jun 17, 2012, 4:00 PM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

            "Home ...  sweet home."

"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

These very well known words come from an early 19th century poem ... but they have become part of our collective language ... probably because they express a fundamental emotion in all of us ... the deep attachment, memory, and warmth so often associated with the word "home."

"There's no place like home."

But, for most of us, at least, saying things like "going home" ... "getting home" ... "feeling at home" are all things that give us a sense of belonging ... a sense of safety ... and comfort.

Ah ... "home ... sweet home."

 

            In our second reading today, St. Paul makes a rather unlikely statement about "home."

He says:

"... we know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord ...

... and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord."

And so, according to St. Paul, we have a "home" in the body ... a home in this life ... a home that includes our "normal" lives ...

And we also have a "home" with the Lord ... a "home" in heaven ... a home in the heart of God ... a home in the life to come ...

 

            Now, one home ... our "home" in the body ... we see ...

The other, our life with Christ ... we can't see ... at least not the in same way ... but, as St. Paul says:

"We walk by faith, not by sight" ...

Although we see one home with our physical eyes ... it is also possible to "see" the other "home" in faith ...

We know that it exists, in faith.

Although we can't see it physically ... faith allows us to "see" that the life-to-come is really "home" ...

 

            But which is it—really?

I'm guessing that most of us would have a hard time really agreeing with St. Paul, at a felt level, that we would rather "leave the body" and "go home to the Lord" ... at least any time soon ...

But that's clearly what St. Paul is assuming:  yes, we have a "home" in the body ... but it's our home with the Lord that should be our real focus ... our true desire ... or life's goal.

 

            In this regard, I suspect that many of us would like to be like people who have two homes – you know, one here and a second, "retirement" home elsewhere ... one that we don't intend to need any time soon ...

... a home in this life ... and a home in heaven (eventually .... but not too soon)   ... both/and ... not either/or ...

 

            But that's not really what St. Paul is suggesting ... yes, a temporary home here ... but a real home that we should be longing for, even now, elsewhere ...

 

            So, are we people without faith ... if we love our earthly homes ... ?

Are we bad Christians if we love our spouses and our children and grandchildren, our families, our neighbors and friends, the good things that we have in life?

Are we really supposed to wish that at this moment we could be separated from them and "at home with the Lord"?

Ought we really to try to forget about all of this that we can see ... and look to God instead?

Surely, that can't be the case ... since God put us in this world ... and God created those we love ... and brought us together ... and blessed us the good things that we have in life ... and challenges us to find him in this life ... God gave us our earthly home ...

 

            The problem is that sometimes we act as this is the only life ... that what's really real and really important and really worth pursuing ... and worth our time, our energy, and our effort ... is what we can get in this life ...

The problem is that we don't look beyond this life.

We just want to hold on to what we have in this our earthly home ...

We want what we see with our physical eyes ... and don't give much real thought to what the eyes of faith would reveal  to us ...

 

            I think what St. Paul is suggesting to us that we can't focus all of our attention on our earthly home ... with the our heavenly home as kind of an afterthought ... or an "addition" ... or something  "over-and-above" ...

 ... and we have to begin with an eye on our true, lasting, heavenly home ... and see our earthly home from the perspective of our heavenly home  ... and not the other way around ...

 

            We have to look at the life of our true home with God ... an eternal life of love ... an eternal giving and receiving ... and brotherhood and community and communion  of heaven ... a life of praise and worship and thanksgiving to God ... and blessed communion with him ...

... we have to look at our true and lasting and heavenly home .. and we have to live in our earthly home with that vision in mind ... with that loving ... and with that giving and receiving ... and with the spirit of brotherhood and community and communion ... and praise and worship and thanksgiving to God ...  here in this home.

We have to look to the eternal happiness in heaven ... to the life with the saints and the angels ... the life that we are ultimately meant to live ... we have to realize that it is that life that we must,  first and foremost, desire and work for and promote for our loved ones in this life ...

We can wish and work for and promote nothing better for those we love than eternal life ...

This is what Christian spouses must want for each other ... what Christian parents should most want for their children ... what friends should want for one another ...

We have to look to our heavenly home ... and assess the things and the priorities and the actions of this life from that perspective ... and not the other way around.

 

            It is a wonderful, natural and human thing that one spouse wants to hold to another forever ... that children want to hold on to their aging parents and grandparents ... that parents want to hold on to their children ... of course they do! ... but we must strive to walk by faith and not by sight ... and see that their ultimate, true, and lasting good is their eternal home ... a home where we can be together and love and be loved as we can't possibly even imagine in this life.

It is a wonderful, natural, human thing for parents to want the best for their children in this, their earthly home ... but we must walk by faith and not by sight ... with that sight fixed on our true home, and not just on our earthly home  ... and see how wrong-headed it is for parents to want their children to get a good education so that they can get ahead ...to have success in athletics ... to be popular ... and then add religious education or attendance at Mass or faith-formation as an optional "add-on" ... as they can fit it in ... as long as it's not tournament time ... unless they really don't want to ...

It is a natural thing to want the good things of this life ... but not to the neglect ... not over-and-above ... not instead of ... the good things of the life to come.

 

            We have another saying about "home" that goes:

"Home is where the heart is"

Our real home is where what and whom  we love most can be found ...

In a way, this is also the message of Jesus when he says in the Gospel of Matthew:  "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Today, St. Paul challenges us to ask ourselves:

"Where is your heart?'

"Where is your treasure?"

"Where is y our true home?"
And ... if we have faith to see what must be answer to those questions ...we will know how to live as we ought in this, our earthly home.

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