Father Steve Grunow offered this homily at Mass today, cutting to the heart of this Sunday's challenging scriptural readings to help us realize that the true spiritual life is not a mere "affirmation of our desires." They are far too small. Vocation is a greater reality calling us beyond our perceived riches into the happiness of a life lived in imitation of Christ.
Our scripture readings for today commence with a selection from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom.
The content of the Book of Wisdom represents Israel thinking through the implications of its faith in the God of Israel. The author of this book begs questions and answers as he thinks through what it means to believe in God and to live in a unique culture that accepts that God is at the center of life and the activities of culture.
Today, the author ruminates on the question of what is most needed or important in life- is it wealth, security, power? No. Is it fame or honors? No.
What is needed most in life is wisdom. What is wisdom? Wisdom is discernment, particularly a discernment of God's will and purposes for one's life. With this discernment comes clarity, a clarity that is not just about practical matters, but about what is most important.
Without wisdom we settle for the satisfaction of nothing more than immediate need or we fixate on the ephemeral, mistaking ancillary goods for the most important Good that is God.
Our second scripture is an excerpt from the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews.
The Letter to the Hebrews is a curious and mysterious text. It is not so much a letter as it is a kind of theological essay and it represents, like the Book of Wisdom, a thinking through of what of the implications of Christian faith and belief.
Whereas the Book of Wisdom examines the unique way of life that is the Israel of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews examines the unique way of life that is the new Israel, the Church of the New Testament.
Remember, the Church is not just a religious discussion club, non-for-profit charity, or merely an extension of your family of ethnic identity. The Church is the new Israel- it is a people called forth by God in Christ from all the nations that is meant to display to the world through its unique way of life that God exists, God matters, and that humanity is invited into relationship with God through Christ.
This is what the Church is. This is who we are...