Mass of Mission and Thanksgiving Homily
May 23rd, 2014
Holy Family Church (Chicago,IL)
Deacon Chuck Thompson
I was so excited to be asked to preach at this Mass of Mission and Thanksgiving here at St. Ignatius College Prep a few months back. And, when I was sharing my joy with a good friend here, I can remember that person saying to me, “That last Mass of the year? The one right before academic finals? Good luck with that. Everybody has one foot out the door.”
Even though he was joking around, that response got me thinking. Over the years, many preachers have stood here in Holy Family Church and asked us to look up at one of these statues, or a window, or holy painting. In doing so, they usually remind us that all of this is more than decoration. We, as Catholics, believe in these people, these places, these saints, and this vision of God. They are with us now.
But today, I’m going to ask that all of us do something different.
I’d like you to look down for a moment. To look down… at your feet. Because if we all really do have one foot out the door, I have to ask: where are those feet going to take you this summer?
For some of you students, your feet will carry your bags to the van, to the airport, as you head out on a service trip. Maybe those flip-flops will get you to the pool everyday where you will work as a lifeguard. Maybe your cleats will take you to sports camp, where you will train hard for next season.
But, those same feet could also take you to a friend’s house where you know there are no parents, no adults, all day. And you can do whatever you want. Maybe those feet might sneak you away to a beach party, late at night, on the shores of Lake Michigan, where you know there will be trouble. Truth be told, for us adults, the temptations and opportunities are even greater.
It’s your choice. Your feet don’t take you anywhere unless you tell them. So, now that you have a little more freedom, where are you going?
This is nothing new. Look at the footsteps of the early Church. In that first reading from Acts, we see a young Church figuring out its’ freedom. The Gentiles are wondering if they need to be circumcised to become Christian. So, the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church, set things straight. They have chosen Christ, that’s who they follow, that’s how they will be free of the Law. That’s how wisdom works. That’s how the Church works. That’s how you stay on the right path.
Think about it. Before you got here at St. Ignatius, the rules of the field hockey team, of Model UN, of Phantasm submission guidelines, even how long the cross-country course is — all of those paths were determined for you. Wise adults and upperclassmen basically said… “This is how we do things here. If you decide to join us, you will meet other wonderful folks who are grateful to have followed this foot path. This is what our experience has taught us.”
So, who are you going to chose to follow? Well, the question may already be settled. Today Jesus says in our Gospel, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…” Gabby Douglas, the gymnast, said just as much when asked what she was going to do with her life after the Olympics. “You know,” she said, “God has a plan for me, and I’m going to follow in His footsteps, and just rejoice and be happy.”
Together, when we walk with God, great things happen. God blesses our life with abundance and happiness. He already has. Just ask the Jubilarians. That’s the promise of the Eucharist. That’s a guarantee that you will have an awesome summer.
So, every once in a while in the weeks ahead, look down. Whether your feet are on propped on a beach chair, walking barefoot in Wisconsin, waiting at a bus stop, or maybe, if we are all honest, finding yourself in the wrong place — say a little prayer. Imagine what would happen if we all did that, if we all prayed for each other in those moments?
Because wherever you are — La Grange or Kentucky, Beverly or Louisiana, Evanston or India
— you are not alone in your challenges, your feelings, your indecision, and, finally, in your good choice, in your right choice.
Imagine… if, like Zechariah, we all met in the tender compassion of our Lord, with the dawn from on high breaking upon us, shining on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, guiding our feet into the way of peace?