Make your heart a home for Christ

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C: February 28, 2010
Gen 15:5-12, 17-18; Ps 27:1, 7-9, 13-14; Phil 3:17–4:1; Luke 9:28-36

I gave this homily in Spanish. I thought I would translate it into English and post the text here; but there is no mp3 of the English version.

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Today’s Gospel reading tells us the story of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. In an instant, these three disciples, Peter, John, and James, experienced Jesus in a way that was completely different from the months and years that they had already spent with him. They had traveled with him, eaten with him, listened to his teaching, and seen his miracles. But now they saw him with his face changed in appearance and his clothing having become dazzling white—conversing with Moses and Elijah, those great figures from the history of the People of Israel, who represented the Law and the Prophets. In that brilliant moment, they saw Jesus clearly, with his divinity made visible to their own eyes, and they came to know him in a new way.

Why did Jesus reveal himself to them in this way? He had already spoken to them about his crucifixion, which he would undergo some months later. And they had been confused by this; and he knew that they had already suffered from his words, and that they would suffer more when they would actually see him suffer. He revealed himself in this way, in his glory so that, even when they would be most deeply plunged into suffering and confusion, they should not despair, but should continue to trust in him.

And I hope that each one of us—that you yourself—have experienced a moment of perceiving Jesus as alive and real. Yes, most of us first met Jesus, objectively, in our baptism when we were infants or children. In that moment, we received a “character”—a mark or a seal on our soul that never can be erased. And in the following years we have learned more about Jesus, and we have received his grace through various sacraments. But it is still possible, and I hope it has been the case, that one day you may have experienced him in a new way—as the apostles did. Most likely you did not see him visibly, with his face changed in appearance and his clothing having become dazzling white, as the apostles saw him on that day. But I hope that, at some point, you have perceived him alive and real, and very close to you, and with a great love and tenderness for you, full of mercy.

In the Gospel reading, St. Luke tell us that Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep; and, when they had become fully awake and seen his glory, what a reaction they must have felt! What emotion! And in that moment, St. Peter said, not knowing what he was saying, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents.” Like the psalmist, Peter had sought the face of the Lord; and, after seeing it, he wanted to give him a place in his life. He wanted to give him a home. He wanted to give him—a tent? Well, that wasn’t the right kind of home. As St. Stephen said in the Book of Acts [7:48], the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands. But Peter was right in his impulse to respond to this revelation by offering Jesus a home. And the home that Jesus wants is your heart.

If you have been baptized, Christ has already come to dwell in your heart, through his Holy Spirit, from that very moment. But that moment was only the beginning. What kind of home have you given to Jesus in your heart? In the second reading, St. Paul speaks to us about two groups. Which group describes you? Are you an enemy of the cross of Christ, with your stomach as your God, your shame as your glory, your mind occupied with earthly things? Or do you live as a citizen of heaven, standing firm in the Lord? Perhaps a little of both?

St. Paul tells us that Christ is going to bring all things into subjection to himself. And that means, first, all things en the heart—your heart and my heart; all things in our life.

When I was in junior high, in a religion class, I read a little essay with the title “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” That essay was a meditation that used the image of our life as a house with many rooms, which stood for the different parts of our life. And the author wrote that, after he had first experienced Jesus, he invited him to dwell in his heart, in his life. And then Jesus began to explore all the rooms—the first, the second, the third—and to clean them and put them in order, bringing into subjection to himself all things in the life of the author.

That essay presents a good exercise for us during this holy season of Lent. And so I want to give you an overview of the key points of that meditation.

  • The first room in the essay is the study, the library. It stands for the life of your mind and your imagination. Picture Christ himself examining all the books, all the magazines, all the pictures that you pay attention to. Are they pure? Do they have true value—or not? In the Gospel reading, the disciples heard the voice of God the Father saying, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Do you listen to him? Do you read Sacred Scripture and the teachings of his Church? Do you meditate regularly on the divine person of Jesus?
  • Then, secondly, we enter the dining room—the room of your appetites and desires. In that room, what do you consume in order to satisfy your desires? Do you desire only earthly things, the things of this world? Jesus urges that we seek the food of doing the will of his Father, which was his food. May we have hunger and thirst for the grace of the sacraments!
  • Then we enter the drawing room or living room—a comfortable room for personal conversations. The stands for your daily prayer with our Lord. The great Carmelite mystic, St. Teresa of Avila, wrote that, “Mental prayer is nothing but friendly conversation, often conversing alone with him who we know loves us.” In that drawing room, Jesus waits for you each day. How many minutes do you spend with him, who is your Savior and your King, and who desires your friendship?
  • Then, fourth: the workshop stands for your talents and skills. Do you use them to accomplish things for the Kingdom of God? To perform works of charity for your neighbor? Do you need to put more energy into accomplishing tangible acts for God? Perhaps you might ask that the Holy Spirit guide your work.
  • The fifth room is the playroom, in which you pass your free time with friends in different forms of recreation. Is Christ welcome in your friendships? Do you do activities, or go to places, that Jesus would not like? He wants to give you true joy and true friendships. Do you need to change your way of playing?
  • Finally, in the house that this essay describes, there is a hall closet, which stays closed and locked; from which there comes a foul odor, the smell of something dead. This closet stands for those sins that you have not wanted to reject, because they have seemed to you to be necessary and very tied in to who you are. Do you need to give the key to Christ and to all you to empty and clean this closet?

In the moment of the Transfiguration, St. Peter wanted to set up a tent as a home for Jesus. In this season of Lent, have you given Jesus the home that he wants—the home of your whole heart? In this season, in this very Mass, give him the sacrifice of bringing into subjection to him all the rooms of your home—all the parts of your life. And in this way you will allow the splendor of his glory to shine within you.

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Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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