First Homily as a Deacon
Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
First Communion Sunday
May 1, 2016
St. Joseph’s, Brooks – 8:00 AM
Focus: God wants to be your best friend and come to stay with you.
Function: Be ready for God to come and stay with you.
Two weeks ago, my friend Stephen and I traveled to Joliet, IL for the diaconate ordination of a good friend. It was a great celebration. The Church was packed and the reception lasted for hours. John preached his first homily the next day, and he set the bar pretty high.
I was honored to attend the ordination of my friend, but I was particularly honored that John invited us to stay with him and his family while we were in town. I was honored because, while John is a good friend, I also knew this was going to be a busy weekend for him and his family, and that a lot of people would want to see him. I did not want him to feel as though he needed to entertain guests during this time, and yet, I looked forward to the time we would be able to spend together.
I was struck by the hospitality of his family. I remember pulling up to their house. His mom met us at the door, gave us a hug, welcomed us in, and asked if we needed any help with our bags. Then, she offered us a beer and asked if we were hungry – she had shredded beef in a crockpot for us whenever we got hungry. The air mattresses were set up in the basement for the three of us. She enlisted our help in getting a few things ready for the weekend. It was a joy to be able to stay with John – to talk with him, to pray with him, and to just spend time with him in the ordinary moments of this extraordinary time in his life.
I didn’t feel like a guest in their home. I felt welcomed. I felt like I belonged. I felt like I was part of the family.
God wants to be your best friend. He wants to come to come and stay with you. He wants to come and stay with you at your house. In fact, you are his house. You are the dwelling place of God. Listen again to the words of the Gospel:
Whoever loves me will keep my word.
And my Father will love him.
And we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Jesus wants to come and make his dwelling with you. He wants to make his home in you. He wants to come and spend time with you – to know you – to be in friendship with you. He wants to be your best friend.
To the four of you who are making your first communion today:
When you have a best friend, you want to spend a lot of time with that person. You want to invite him over to your house – to spend the night at your house. So, you prepare. You get things ready. You do all of your chores without complaining. You make your bed and pick up your room. You listen to Mom and Dad. You are even nice to your brothers and sisters! You get things ready so that your friend will feel welcomed.
When your friend comes over, you spend a lot of time with him. You talk with him and play with him. When he spends the night at your house, he sleeps in your room. And what’s the best part about having your best friend spend the night at your house – in your room? Going to bed early, right? No! You usually stay up late talking to each other, laughing with each other. You share your toys with him. You eat your meals with him. You spend time together and get to know each other better. You invite him into your daily life, your daily routine – the normal moments of your everyday life. You invite your friend over to your house, and when he comes to your house often, you become closer friends – almost like brothers. He is welcomed in your house. He becomes like a member of the family.
God wants to be your best friend. And today, today is the day. He comes to stay at your house. Jesus, who is fully present in the bread we break and the cup we share at this altar, comes into your house and stays with you. He comes to live with you. And if you allow him to live within – if you allow him to become your friend, you will be like that holy city coming down out of Heaven – that holy city that “gleamed with the splendor of God”, because God lived within it.
You’ve prepared for this day. You’ve made your room ready for him, and now he is on his way. He will soon be here, right here on this altar. Welcome him in when he comes. Do everything you can to make sure he enjoys his stay. Treat him with kindness. Treat his other friends with kindness. Love him and keep his word, and he will come and make his dwelling with you. When you come up for Communion and receive him at the door of your lips, welcome him into the room of your heart. Tell him, “Jesus, come and make your home in my heart.”
Invite him back again next week and the week after that. Carry him with you in your heart during the week and prepare for him to come and stay with you again next Sunday. When your room gets messy – and it will get messy – when the dirty clothes pile up on the floor of your heart – let him help you clean it up by going to Confession. So often we feel like we need to make everything look good on the outside, but it’s about the inside. Get the inside right and the outside will follow. Have a friendship with Jesus and you will become like Jesus. Become like Jesus and you will act like Jesus because of your love for him. The reason why I didn’t feel like a guest at John’s house was because he invited me into what was happening. We spent time together in the ordinary events of the day, and our friendship deepened.
Celebrate your second, third, and fourth Holy Communion. Invite him to stay with you week after week after week. Let him become your best friend.
And someday, someday, he will invite you to come and stay with him at his home – in Heaven.