posted on February 13, 2013 09:47
Homily: Father Mike Kuse
Blessed Sacrament Parish
February 13, 2013 - Ash Wednesday
10 AM Service
What are the things that we hide? What are the things that we put out for everyone to see? We are sinners. Jesus says, “That doesn't bother me, that's the way I made you. I just ask that you don't hide from me, and I also ask that whenever you are going to do something in my name - do it with humility.”
These forty days of Lent are just a time period every year in all of our lives. Sometimes we notice, and sometimes we don't notice that it means one thing for the children here, it means something else for a couple who has just gotten married and this is going to be their first Lent as husband and wife, and it is going to be a different type of Lent for those here who have lost a spouse or a son or a daughter.
As we get older we learn how to pray. We learn how to fast. We learn how to reach out and give alms. Prayer doesn't mean how many rosaries you say during Lent. The rosary is a beautiful form of prayer, but we are not tallying up the rosaries. The challenge for us is just to sit - and be silent. We are going to offer that opportunity. You can pray anywhere but during Lent there are going to be four Sundays when we are once again going to open the church and you can come and sit for as long as you wish.
It takes a deep friendship for two people to go on a trip and get in a car and not feel like they have to talk. They are just going somewhere with someone they treasure being with.
When it comes to fasting, everybody here needs to look at fasting. The church says you should not eat unnecessarily between meals. Maybe you don't do that anyway. Fasting can also mean, “How do I get rid of a distraction?” Today we all would have to admit that technology, which has been a tremendous gift for all of us - there are times we should just turn it all off and be alone with God. That's fasting. For someone else it could be, “I go to the boat every week.” Maybe not going to the boat during these forty days might be real fasting. And maybe the money saved could be given in some way to charity.
When it comes to alms giving: It is not about money. It is about giving away our time, and giving away our talent and saying, “What can I do to build the Kingdom? If I really reach out and receive no fame then I am going to have a wonderful forty days. And it will always remind me that God is with me.”
I shared a story at the other Masses today. It's a story that really blends these three things together. It's about love, it's about giving alms, and it's about doing something unnoticed.
The story is about a young couple. We'll call them Marie and Jeff. They are deeply in love. Marie is blind and Jeff can see. They had been going together for a while and they would both like to get married. But Marie tells Jeff, “I just can't marry you until I can see you. I want to know what you look like.”
It so happened, just as we have today, a lot of people have transplants. And Marie put in her name to find out if she could get two new eyes. There just happened to be a donor. So she went through the surgery and received two new eyes. Now she could see and was so excited, “I just can't wait to see Jeff. He knows what I look like, but I don't know what he looks like. All I have to do is just glance at him and I will be ready to marry him for life.”
But when she comes into his presence, she looks at his face and his eyes are shut. He has no eyes. And she said, “I can't marry you. I just don't think I can spend the rest of my life looking at you with your eyes shut. I had no idea.”
They never married. After some time, she got a note in the mail and it was from Jeff. The note simply said, “I hope you enjoy seeing everything around you. I just want you to know that the eyes you have were once mine.”
You think you're good at alms giving? You think you're good at prayer? You think you're good at fasting? Be Marie, or be Jeff, but just realize someone gave his sight so that someone else could see. Then be rejected - and yet know that God is in the midst of all of it. That's why you and I need these forty days every year. Because we don't know what's ahead. We know what's behind.
It is to prepare us, not for horrible things to happen, but just that you and I can live a quality life. I'm sure there are ways I can improve my Christian living. I'm sure there are ways you can improve your Christian living. And when we improve and take time to lay bare who we are, we become part of a community of faith that becomes so powerful.
We're not trying to outdo each other. We're just simply saying, “I love you the way you are because you are a child of God. I'm so grateful that I don't look like anybody else, my health is not the same as anybody else, my intellect is not the same as anyone else, my personality is not the same as anyone else.”
“But who I am in the eyes of God - that's all that matters.”
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.