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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sunday's Homily

When I first visited Holy Rosary, I was struck by the stained glass pictures that line the sides of the church. Each one tells the story of the Gospels in broken glass, with different colors – blues and greens and reds, and different shapes – rectangles and triangles and circles. No one piece of glass is perfect – even if it may appear so from afar, if you look closely you will find chips and flaws and discolorations. Yet, it is in these broken, flawed, and misfit pieces of glass that the good news of Christ shines forth. This is truly a Christian art form, for, as we see in today’s Gospel, just as these misfit pieces of glass come together to express the good news, so the misfit peoples of the world come together in the Church to express the beauty of the Lord.

For we belong to a Church of misfits, of people who seem the least qualified to serve as examples of goodness or as models of what it means to be holy. Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector to follow him and if you think that an IRS agent has trouble making friends today, let me tell you - it was far worse in Matthew’s time. You certainly wouldn’t want to associate with one, much less go to their house for dinner. It’s the same with the other apostles. Peter was an uneducated fisherman, not the sort of person you would think of going to for theological advice. Judas betrayed him. Paul approved of the horrible murder of Stephen. Yet, these are the misfits on whom Jesus chooses to build his Church.

How unlike the way our world works today. What employer willingly hires prostitutes, or thieves, or liars, or murderers? Most employers would say to such prospective applicants – “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” We don’t eagerly seek out misfits; instead we seek out perfection. We seek to join those people who are on the top of their game, the best at what they can do. Even when I was discerning my vocation, I sought a community of saints, filled with people who shone with holiness. Well, I have news for you – there is no such perfect community. If for no other reason than because the instant I joined it, it too became a community of misfits.

Holy Rosary is also a community of misfits and not just because I’m here. We all have our flaws, those parts of ourselves that we would like to change. We are like St. Paul, finding ourselves doing what we should not do more often than we would like and not doing what we should do nearly often enough. Yet, Jesus’ message of hope is that he can take us with all our imperfections and make something perfect just as these imperfect pieces of glass have become something perfect.

If you find it difficult to do the right thing, remember that Jesus desires mercy – not sacrifice. He did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Jesus does not throw away our piece of glass, though he may polish it a bit. Indeed it is in our flaws that God’s message of love and forgiveness shines most brightly. Remove the broken and chipped glass from these windows and their stories cannot be told, remove the misfits from the Church and the Gospel message is silenced. Yes, Jesus appears most clearly in broken things, in the Eucharistic bread that has been broken and in the struggles that are part and parcel of the brokenness of our lives.

How much we need the eyes of Christ, his eyes of mercy and love, to see others and to see ourselves as Christ sees all of us misfits – as people who may be out of place in society but who have a perfect fit in him. For just as it is through our Christian eyes that we can see the good news presented in the stained glass, so it is through the eyes of Christ that we can see the glory of God shining forth right now in those around us.


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