Sunday, March 1, 2009  Many of us still have our childhood idea of God that He is looking around waiting for us to make a mistake and that He then wants to punish us.

Homily, Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fr. Ed Oen

Years ago when I was stationed in Hill City, I used to take visitors to Hays. There we would visit Fort Hays and also homes from the era of the Civil War. Those homes had artifacts; there was always a lot of interest in the children’s toys. The one that interested me most was Noah’s Ark. It was made out of wood. It had all the animals and little people.  If the Ark were placed in water, it would float.

Today’s First Reading and also the Second Reading mentions Noah’s Ark. Noah’s Ark saved Noah and his family from the floods. Floods drowned out sin; they drowned out sinful people many thousands of years ago. God made a new beginning with his human race.

These floodwaters remind us of our baptism. We were born with original sin and the water poured on us, wiped out that sin.

During the season of Lent we are asked to meditate on our baptism. On Holy Saturday, new members of the Church will have Holy Water poured on them and they too are saved.

When we come into church, we place our hand in holy water reminding us of our baptism. We sprinkle water on us reminding us that God saved us through water by drowning out sin.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to hear the good news about our baptism. As we heard on Ash Wednesday, “Turn away from sin, and believe in the Good News.” Be faithful to the Gospel. We are to push away the sins that came to us since baptism and we are to follow Jesus. The good news is that God loves us. This great God of our’s forgives us and is always with us. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. God loves us completely and unconditionally. He is always on our side. We don’t have to appease God like the people at the time of Moses and Abraham. But the God of Moses, the God of Abraham, the God of our fathers, does not need to be appeased. God continues to be with us so that the waves of the waters don’t drown us out.

During Lent when we are asked to mediate on the good news of God and his presence among us.  We believe that God is a loving, saving, caring, compassionate, kind, good upright God. We could add many more adjectives to those. God sees sin as pain, and God wants to take away our pain.

Many of us still have our childhood idea of God – that He is looking around waiting for us to make a mistake and that He then wants to punish us. That’s not God. That image comes to us from our childhood. It’s the way we think about our parents who get after us when we are not doing the things that we should be doing. As we grow older, the image we have of God is of love.  For many people, God fits right into this Church. When you think of God, you might see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a small section of heaven. The real God is everywhere. The real God has no beginning and no end. God is present in the oceans, He is present on the moon; He is present in the stars. We have to stretch our idea of God. God continues to create; He is a continuous creator. He is creating three new human beings every second and hundreds of thousands of different types of life. This God is a creator and everything with God is now. There is no past and no future. This God loves us individually and He wants to save us.

If we have just a spark of sorrow, God comes and picks us up. We see that in the story that Jesus told of the man who had two sons. One stayed home and worked out of love for his father. The other son however was not as faithful.  He wanted what he wanted; he wanted his inheritance. Then he squanders it; but his father still loved him. That’s our God loves us. Every day that father looked for the return of his son; he knew he would run out of money. The son returns and asks to be a hired hand. All he wanted was a roof over his head and food to eat. When he returned his father threw his arms around his son; the father said, “You are my son!”  That’s how God see us. He tries to bring us to Himself, clothing us in new garments and forgiving us. Despite how many times we run away, God loves us – even though we are greedy.

Greed is killing our country. Sometimes we point our fingers at all the rich people.  They are part of the problem, yes, but three fingers point back at us. We are all guilty. Many times we don’t realize the blessings that we have. We always want more. Today there are more than 500 billionaires in the United States. Those have 40% of all the wealth in the United States. One percent of the people have 40% of the wealth. But it’s not just those people but it’s all of us. Television keeps reaching out to us, saying, “Buy me! Have me!” We can turn the sound down during advertisements but the message is still there and that’s part of the reason we always want more.

So as we experience this Lent, let us turn back to the Lord. He is the one who will bring us happiness. He’s the one that can satisfy our hearts. Not those material things. God made us all brothers and sisters in baptism. He made us temples of the Holy Spirit. This God during Lent wants us to come back to Him and realize that he is sufficient. If we have just a little spark of contrition, He’ll take care of the rest – and He will put His arms around us again and say, “I love you; I care about you; I want you to be with Me forever.”

 

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