By Deacon Jerry Franzen Cathedral 6/19/2016
Zechariah 12: 10-11, 13:1 Gal. 3:26-29 Luke 9:18-24
Praised Be Jesus Christ – Good Evening
During this week, as I considered today’s readings,
I was having trouble getting a clear focus
on what I wanted to say in this homily.
Nothing specific stood out; sources of inspiration I usually look at weren’t particularly inspiring.
I took one more look at the readings.
®Would the focus be on all that God has provided for us,
such as the victory over sin and uncleanness
that would come through the spirit of grace and petition?
In the first reading God said He would pour these out
on the house of David.
®Would the focus be on St. Paul’s declaration that we, the baptized,
are all children of God clothed in Christ Jesus?
®Or would it be on Jesus’ question in St. Luke’s Gospel:
“But who do you say that I am?”
with the requirement that to be a follower of “Christ,”
each of us would have to “take up our cross daily?”
After these considerations, my focus became clearer!!
The focus of the readings is really on us, as it always is.
It is on who WE are as defined by what WE have and what WE do.
Little is known about the mourning described in the first reading
but there must have been great cause for grief.
The Lord told the house of David that,
even though they would one day mourn
the fact that they had killed a person,
they would at the same time be given
“a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”
We are the religious descendants of that house of David;
we are followers of Christ, who was of the house of David.
Each Lenten season, we have a special opportunity
to mourn the suffering and death of Jesus, the “pierced” one,
as Zechariah described Him.
But at the end of that same season we also celebrate
the greatest feast of the Church Year, Easter,
when the risen Christ opened for us that
“fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.”
So who are we?
We are a sorrowful, mourning, people,
sorrowful for the fact that God had to send His only Son
to suffer and die for our sins.
But we are also people for whom God has unbounded mercy,
that “fountain to purify” us “from sin and uncleanness.”
So, who are we?
We, sinners though we are, are the beneficiaries of God’s mercy.
St. Paul says very clearly who we are.
We are children of God.
We are heirs to the kingdom of God, our Father;
he is our “Abba,” our “Daddy.”
The younger of us who still have their fathers alive,
have already celebrated with them in some way today.
The older of us may have connected with our fathers today
in our memories of them or in prayer for them
or in prayer to them
should they be saints in the heavenly kingdom.
So, who are we?
God has adopted us as his children
and made it so that we can join him in heaven.
At our baptism, we put on the white garment of salvation
and were charged, as stated in the baptismal rite,
with bringing that garment unstained
into the everlasting life of heaven.
And God has made it so that we can do that through Jesus Christ.
We are a redeemed people.
And in the Gospel there is Jesus’ question:
“Who do you say that I am?”
We are the people who, like Peter, say that Jesus is the Christ.
In Greek, “Xristos” means “Messiah: or “anointed one,”
the one anointed by God and sent for our salvation .
And we can give OUR answer to that question in words as Peter did
or by our actions in carrying our daily crosses for Christ.
We all respond to that question
in one special way at every Mass,
although you may not have ever recognized the question
or your answer.
It is at the great “Amen” at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer.
The Eucharistic Prayer begins right after we sing the “Holy, Holy.”
It is the heart of the sacrifice of the Mass.
There are several forms of the Eucharistic Prayer
but each is our prayer of offering
Jesus, the Divine Victim, as we once again make present,
in an unbloody manner, the sacrifice of Calvary.
Notice I said that the Eucharistic Prayer is OUR prayer.
and that WE make present again the sacrifice of Calvary.
The priest, standing in for Christ, the true celebrant at every Mass,
leads us in the Eucharistic prayer.
But, take note today how many times
the priest uses the first person PLURAL forms of
“we,” “us” and “our” in the Eucharistic prayer.
Those words mean all of us.
The priest is leading us in that whole prayer,
and we should all be listening intently
and praying the Eucharistic Prayer
silently along with the priest.
Each of the Eucharistic Prayers ends with the Doxology
which is a Greek term meaning “an expression of praise.”
The Body and Blood of Christ are elevated and the priest says:
“Through Him, and with Him, and in Him,
O God, almighty Father, all glory and honor is yours,
forever and ever.”
That is the Doxology.
In that prayer the priest is addressing God,
and saying that it is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, that God is glorified and honored forever and ever,
And everyone responds “Amen!”
Some think that “Amen” means “The End,”
because it is always at the end.
There is a story about a particular preacher going on and on
in his sermon and the heat was building in the Church.
In his sermon he interjected the rhetorical question:
“What else can I say?”
Someone in the congregation stood up and offered:
“Just say ‘Amen.’” Just end your sermon.
“Amen” is always the end, but it doesn’t mean ”The End.”
The word “Amen” means “So be it.” or “May it be so.”
It is a form of agreement, a way of saying,
“I agree with what has just been said.”
We begin many prayer activities with the sign of the cross.
After the Opening Hymn at Mass, the priest says
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.”
And we all reply, “Amen”
which means, “Yes, I agree that what we are about to do
is to be done ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.’”
One priest has even said that “Amen” has a deeper meaning:
not just like “Yea, I agree”, but more like,
“I’d stake my life on it.”
At the great Amen we are agreeing with
all that went before in the Eucharistic Prayer.
We are acknowledging that Christ through His suffering, death and resurrection, won salvation for us,
and that Christ, our King and Savior,
is present to us on the altar
under the form of bread and wine.
By our “Amen” we proclaim that, through Jesus Christ,
we now have a relationship with God the Father,
and that we’re preparing to receive
Christ’s saving presence and power in the Eucharist.
Though you may not have recognized it, the Great Amen
is a truly peak moment in the Mass,
because it is our way of acclaiming Jesus as the Christ.
Our “Amen” after being presented with “The Body of Christ”
is also an agreement and material for another whole homily.
May we be a people who truly appreciates the fact that
God sent His only begotten Son
to suffer, die and rise from the dead for us.
May we mourn His death and be sorry that God had to do that.
May we recognize that by Jesus’ death and resurrection
we have been clothed in Christ
and must strive to bring those baptismal clothes
unstained into the everlasting life of heaven?
And finally, may we take every opportunity to acknowledge Jesus
as our Messiah so that our Great Amen may ring true.