My first homily
My formation for the priesthood of Jesus Christ has advanced far enough that they finally did it: they let me preach. Not at Mass or any kind of liturgical reality; it was just for my fellow first-year theologians in our Introduction to Homiletics class. Follows is the text of my homily (though it was a little different as delivered):—
II. THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM REVEALED.
To our ears, a kingdom sounds like a place to visit. But it is more than that. It is the βασιλεία in the Greek, literally the “king-thing.” In the Latin? Regnum: the reign of God. That's how the other two parables Jesus gives us make sense: the Kingdom of Heaven is sown among men in their hearts. That's where Jesus' reign starts. In fact, it's happening right now: you have heard the word of God. In St Luke's version of the parable, the seeds are not the children of the kingdom, as we heard in St Matthew's Gospel, but the word of God itself. Right now, then, the seed of God's word is being sown by the Holy Spirit in the heart of every man, woman, boy and girl who has heard the Word proclaimed this morning. It's leavening your heart. It's being mixed in and kneaded by holy Mother Church. And, by God's grace, this tiny kernel of truth will take root and begin to grow, just like the mustard seed. But to what end?
III. THE LITTLE WAY OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
IV. EMBRACING THE LITTLE WAY OF THE KINGDOM.
But how does a soul embrace the word sown by Jesus? Is it just “being a good person”? Through obedience alone? No. Not at all! Jesus shows us the way to heaven: obedience, prayer, and the sacraments. The cry of the Psalmist points the way: Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading. Our God is one who judges with clemency, governing us with mercy. The wheat-like soul gathers its courage and approaches the Tribunal of the Kingdom with confidence, knowing that God has given good ground for hope that repentance is possible. Where is Jesus' High Court? It's not some edifice in the Vatican or palace of justice in Jerusalem. It's here, in this very church: it's the confessional. Having opened their hearts to the seeds of the Word sown by Christ the Sower, the children of the kingdom know in the honesty of their own hearts that they have turned away from obedience in that beautiful, heavenly harvest in pursuit of some vile creature, a petty honor, a miserable pleasure, some vain interest; they know, with the Spirit's help, that they have rejected the infinitely beautiful, perfect, and harmonious communion with the Triune God: He who is Light, Love, and Life.
So full of prayer and taking up the burden of the Cross of their sins, failings, and weakness, the children of the kingdom take the Via Dolorosa to the foot of the Cross. And with trusting confidence in the never-failing mercy of the One who has done all to prepare them for the harvest, they say with the Psalmist: Turn toward me, and have pity on me. Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned against you! And then— and then? Jesus commands, through the words of absolution: Gather the wheat into my barn! They will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father!
V. THE EUCHARIST: THE MUSTARD SEED OF THE KINGDOM.
Jesus shows us the way to heaven: obedience, prayer, and the sacraments. It's the way of the Cross. And we've seen that way, that highway to the Kingdom of Heaven, the Cross, in the sacraments before: and not just penance and reconciliation. We will see it today. In just a few moments, we will fall down in adoration before the Lord of the Harvest, as He comes among us on this altar. Here, Jesus Christ the Sower has prepared a seed-crop even more bountiful than His holy Word. Here, the once-for-all Sacrifice of Calvary will come among us and be made mystically present. Jesus Christ will offer himself to his Father for our sins and those of the whole world on the hard wood of the Cross by the power of the Holy Spirit as we watch. His Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity will be broken and given to us as the True Seed of Eternal Life and forgiveness of sins so that the Kingdom of Heaven will be made manifest right here, right now! We will taste the Bread of Heaven, the True Wheat & Manna that comes down and feeds the children of the kingdom.
Jesus shows us the way to heaven: obedience, prayer, and the sacraments. A mystery, but also no longer a mystery! For Jesus has taught us what Heaven, Eternal Life, is like: it is a harvest of wheat amid tares; a mustard seed; a measure of leaven. And it is being sown among the souls of all those who turn to Jesus in prayer and open themselves to the Sacraments He gave us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, and through this Heavenly Banquet, it will work its way from our hearts through all of human society, and it will yield a harvest of glory: all those who lay down their lives in obedience to Jesus and take up his Cross. Amen.