This is a homily preached at St. Augustine’s Seminary, Serra House Campus on the First Thursday of Advent.
God became flesh and lives among us; Jesus came into the world and laid the foundation through His three year ministry here; then through the Holy Church that foundation and structure continues to strengthen each of us who stays close to her, so that the structure of our own lives remains solid, secure and can weather the storm of attack and the elements of the world we live in day by day.
Through seminary formation and as men who have chosen to take on more of the elements of the world, we stand firmly rooted and to be both out front leading the people but with them, encouraging them, supporting them, shepherding them and helping them to strengthen the foundation of their own lives; with that task, my brothers we should clearly see how important it is at it is that we make the utmost of this time we have in formation to allow ourselves to be fully formed.
To be men so in love with Jesus Christ and the Church that we seek the most solid foundation and structure we can receive. A solid house is just a building and nothing more unless we let others inside. What I mean by that is that we are not simply seeking this solid foundation and sound structure in our own lives so that others can see – we need to let others in.
If all we are is a bastion of truth, virtue, morality & good liturgy; we will be the ones who say “Lord, Lord” and the Lord will wonder who we are. We need to be joyful, engaging men; men who welcome others and who don’t pre-judge people, their situations and their circumstances. There can be a tendency in the close-knit environment of the Christian community to turn inward upon ourselves; to become so focused on these things I mentioned; truth, virtue, morality and good liturgy among other things – that instead of allowing ourselves to be formed to appreciate and internalize these inherently great and beautiful things for ourselves, we become so focused on them that we form sympathy groups within and attack others who don’t fit with us.
The problem with it is that this kind of attitude among seminarians and priests especially, but Catholics in general does not allow anyone else to encounter Christ and it closes the doors that our Lord Himself desires to be open.
Brothers, the foundation that has been laid in your lives; your Christian faith that led you here is to be nourished, tested, purified, deepened with the purpose that you will joyfully open your hearts and minds and lives to God’s people no matter what their belief. If you do this joyfully people will be attracted to the message you bring. If you are optimistic, filled with evident hope and joy; if you are a positive person – people will be receptive to the Good News you bring to their lives. If you are pessimistic and negative about things they will not.
Your faith and the foundation and structure of your own lives will allow you to bring this amazing Gospel and the Church to the lives of others in creative ways that will allow them to respond. My brothers in Christ, consider this today – this is the essence of Jesus’ message to us. The foundation of our faith lives must lead us to open ourselves up to others. May God bless you.