Flashback Friday: A Present Invitation Into New Places

5th Sunday of Easter, Year A (Online) | May 10, 2020

[Editor’s Note: Every week (my goal is Tuesday), previously unpublished sermons from Fr. Brian will be posted for the upcoming Sunday in the liturgical season. May this be a blessing to you in your sermon prep and participation in the liturgy. – Jessica]

Additional homilies from this day in the liturgical season: Easter 5A – 2014

See today’s readings here. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

When I look back on my life, I have lived in some pretty interesting places.

My childhood bedroom was an attic where you had to be real attentive when you woke up in the morning or you would bang your head on the slanted roof.

My teenage bedroom was still decorated in fire trucks and airplanes from the previous owner.  A makeover I was always promised but conveniently only occurred after I had permanently moved out.

There was the college dorm, complete with a ball pit that we constructed out of the couches in our lounge.

And my room in the novitiate that was the warmest in the house so I was tasked with babysitting a vat of fermenting beer that gurgled throughout the night.

There was the room in DC that had a warped bookshelf that literally collapsed on top of me one evening, as my brother Oblates laughed at the irony of me almost being killed by my own books.

And my current room that at one point had water pouring in through the walls, resulting in half of my room being wrapped in plastic in this bizarre construction site/murder scene type feel.

Yes, every one of my dwelling places have been memorable to say the least.

And yet, I still remember the moment that I moved into each one.

All the endless possibilities that seemed latent in an empty room.

I remember unpacking the books and arranging them topically shelf by shelf

I remember hanging up the photos, displaying the knicknacks, and fluffing out the bedspread.

I remember collapsing up the boxes and one by one storing them underneath the bed.  For there is always another move on my horizons.  

All under the watchful eyes of my parents, long seasoned veterans of all my moves.  

For as I was unpacking one box, my dad was carrying up another.

As I was arranging one corner of the room, my mom was setting out another.

For by this point, the two of them knew what home looked and felt like for me.  They knew the non-negotiables.  And they always knew when I was finished.  When the three of us could stop, look around, and celebrate a job well done.

I thought about that process a lot as I reflected on the Gospel for this weekend.  

See I have always loved this Gospel.  For it has brought comfort to me in so many moments when I was faced with the loss of someone I cared about.

For the idea of them finding a way into a home prepared for them is a balm to my wounded soul.

But for some reason, I realized this year that I had been limiting the scope of this Gospel in my own life.

For I do not believe that the promise Christ makes is simply about the afterlife.

I have become convinced that it is a present moment invitation.

An invitation by Christ to step into the new places that are constantly being prepared for us.

The new spaces.  The new opportunities.  The new chapters.  The uncharted territories that await each of us.

My friends, each of us is constantly being asked to move into new places prepared for us.

Whether it is our current situation as a nation trying to step into a world in the midst of a pandemic.  Navigating the uncertainties of what our normal routines look like in an abnormal world.

Or the constant moments of transition and change that define our human experience.

Graduating and moving on to the next step in our educational career. 

Moving out of the house.  Moving back into the house.  Picking up the new keys to the apartment.

Retiring.  Switching jobs.  Jumping into a new career.  Building your dream home.  Selling your childhood home. 

Going on that 1st date.  Breaking up.  Coming out.  Saying I do.  Finalizing the divorce papers.

Cradling the newborn.  Saying yes to the adoption.  Getting the diagnosis.  Standing by the graveside.

And in each and every moment, we are given the promise this night that our God is right beside us, gently preparing these new places for us.  

Wiping clean the dust of accumulated regrets and fears.  Opening the windows to let the light shine gently on our anxieties and our griefs.  Unpacking the moments and memories that define us, that makes us laugh and smile and cry.   Hanging up our hopes and dreams for all to see.  

Until we too can stand beside our God, look around, and realize that we too are home once again.

May God be Praised.

IMAGE ATTRIBUTION: Anonymous. Christian Mural, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=58815 [retrieved May 5, 2023]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christian_Imagery_in_Chippenham_Carpark.jpg.

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