Homily – February 25, 2018

In St. Paul’s letter to his disciple Timothy Paul urged him to preach the gospel – the good news – be persistent whether the time is favorable or not, rebuke and encourage with upmost patience. Paul saw himself as one chosen by God to proclaim the good news of our salvation in and through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This past week a great preacher of the gospel died at the age of 99 – the Rev. Billy Graham. Many of you may never heard of him but many too may remember the famous Billy Graham crusades. He preached the gospel holding an open bible in his hand, to millions of people around the world. His message, his invitation to people was to accept Jesus Christ into their lives as their personal Lord and Savior. He invited them to open their hearts to an intimate relationship with the Crucified Christ. He was famous for his call to the altar and hundreds of men and women would come down from all over the stadium and knell before him as he prayed over them.

Rev. Billy Graham never claimed to heal anyone like other evangelical preachers do. He just invited them to accept the invitation of Jesus – come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened.

Most Christian churches are sacramental communities. We have baptism, reconciliation, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage and the anointing of the sick. Our Eucharist, this Mass is the most important for us. Here we make present the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. We proclaim the mystery of our faith: when we eat the bread and drink this come we proclaim your death of Lord until you come again.

Billy Graham saw our relationship with Christ as a one on one relationship, very personal. Paul the Apostle wrote of himself, ‘I live now, not I but Christ lives within me and the life I live I live trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me. Paul was blessed to be deeply aware of his personal relationship with Christ.

Paul was aware too that his personal relationship was best lived in community. He wrote to the early Church,’ do you not know that you – the community – are the body of Christ and that the Spirit of God lives in you?’ Then he goes on to say,’ if anyone destroys the body of Christ, by spreading discord and division in the community, God will destroy him.

In this season of Lent the Church, our community offers each of us the opportunity through the times we set aside for personal prayer, our efforts we make to cut back on the things we enjoy and being more mindful of other people’s needs – the pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and alms giving – to deepen our personal, our one on one, relationship with Jesus, our Lord, our Savior.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray for a great preacher of the gospel of Jesus. Rev. Billy Graham, and we pray for ourselves and for each other that we may come to a time in our lives when we may say, “I live now, not I but Christ lives in me and the life I live I live trusting in the Lord Jesus who loved me and gave his life for me.