Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
5th Sunday of Easter, Year A |May 17/18, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the second and Gospel readings.
“I am going to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
Now, when most people hear this passage, they are filled with a tremendous sense of comfort.
When I hear this passage, I immediately cringe.
Why? you may ask. Because if Jesus has prepared a place for me, then that means I need to move again.
See, I don’t know why, but for some reason the Oblates have decided I shouldn’t stay in one place too long.
Maybe they are trying to teach me detachment.
Maybe they want to give me new experiences to help me grow.
Or maybe they are just worried about the people I am serving. If they move me around often enough, I don’t have time to do permanent damage.
Whatever their reasons, the fact is I have moved every nine months for the last six years. I have spent August in Florida, winter in Michigan and school years in DC and Philly.
And every time I was asked to move. I would immediately look around my room and shake my head.
For I have a confession to make. I love books and I tend to be a bit of a packrat. So every move involved packing up about 25 boxes of books and carting them to the next destination.
At first, my parents would help me with this process. And every time my dad would look at my boxes of books and shake his head. And yet, he would help me carry them. Up and down flights of stairs so that they could occupy space on another bookshelf.
Then one year, they couldn’t make it down to help. So I was faced with the daunting task of moving by myself.
Well, let me tell you. I began to see those books in a whole new light. Did I really need to be dragging my calculus textbook from college to my new home? Was it worth lugging up and down three flights of steps.
Well let’s just say, that next day, I left my home in DC with a significantly lighter load.
Whether it is coming home from college, downsizing to move into an assisted living facility, or uprooting to follow a new job, we all eventually face the reality of needing to pack up our lives and move.
And in that process, we learn to treasure what is really of value. We learn how to say goodbye so that we can embrace the upcoming hello’s.
I believe that these physical moves that we make are a small part of this spiritual process that Christ invites us to once again this day.
The difficult process of sorting through our stuff, leaving behind all that weighs us down, that clutters our lives.
It could be boxes of dusty memories: old slights that we refuse to let go of, missed opportunities that we are still kicking ourselves for, nostalgia that prevents us from embracing our present moments.
It could be closets full of our carefully covered shame. Shame over what has been done to us. Shame for the decisions we have made. Shame over who we are.
It could be rooms overflowing with toxic relationships that weigh us down.
Family members who judge and criticize
Friends who gossip and betray us
A significant other that we keep returning to, even though we know that they are not helping us to become who God calls us to be.
It could be china cabinets filled with precious moments spent with those we love. Moments that we are so afraid of losing that we lock them away. Moments that we refuse to accept have ended. Goodbyes that we refuse to say.
Whatever our baggage may be, Christ calls us to lay it down. For the path ahead is long and we do not need to be shouldering the extra weight.
For if Christ is the way, then we must look to him as the model for our own lives.
And when we look upon Christ, we see a man who was literally stripped of everything.
A man who had to say goodbye, to his dreams for a future, to the ones he envisioned sharing it with.
And it was only after reaching the freedom that comes from losing it all that he was able to enter into the dwelling place that he had prepared with his life.
Here we are my friends, five weeks into the Easter season.
And once again, Christ presents us with a choice.
Do we choose to be stripped of our baggage? Do we choose to embrace the goodbyes that come our way?
Do we choose to enter on the path that will take us to dwelling prepared for us?
Let’s get moving my friends! Our God awaits.
May God be Praised.
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