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Audio Available!
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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Homily - WYD - A Foretaste of Heaven


Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Saturday, August 6th, is always the celebration of the Transfiguration. In this feast, we remember how three disciples, Peter, James, & John, were blessed with a special mountain-top experience, where during Jesus' deep prayer they witnessed Him speaking to Moses and Elijah, and more importantly, all heard the voice of the Father coming out of the cloud: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” That experience gave them a glimpse of who Jesus really was, of what God wanted for them. It helped them to trust despite the trials that was coming, for the Messiah and later for all of them.

World Youth Day was a similar type of mountain top experience. It provided a phenomenal opportunity for a broad vision of what life is about, of what we were created for. It was like a vision of heaven. A foretaste, like the Eucharist, of what heaven is meant to be. Just imagine: Surrounded by the church from all continents, surrounded by relics of saints, walking on stones and praying in churches where Saint JPII, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Faustina Kowalska, and other Polish saints themselves were. Singing the Lord's praises in over 5 languages. Celebrating Mass with over a million people. Praying for God's Mercy where over a million people were slaughtered. Letting Our Lady of Czestochowa gaze deep into my eyes and warm my soul. Reuniting with old friends from around the U.S., as well as my sister and her husband. Adoring the Blessed Sacrament in an arena full to the brim of 20,000 Catholics. Hiking miles in high heat, yet full of joy as we journeyed.

These experiences tell of what being a Christian is all about. We were not created for comfort, we were created for greatness. Indeed, it taught me the meaning of the words we heard today: Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. God truly desires to make us happy, but we so often fail to pursue it. All the things I mentioned, things that bring me to tears when I think of how beautiful they were, I notice that these things are free and open to everyone: Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven. We don't need to go running for things in this world to find what we were made for. Little flock, Your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. A parent loves to see their children full of joy, that's exactly why we buy so many totally unnecessary things: we are convinced that these will delight our children, even if only for a time, and we are suckers for making other people happy. It's what we were hard-wired for. God Himself is hard-wired to delight us, but not with things that come and go, but with things that last.

If you haven't noticed, I loved my trip. Bishop Rhoades, 5 priests, 6 nuns, 14 seminarians, and 110 youth from the diocese truly formed a family from that time, and I will dearly miss them. I felt the same after I attended World Youth Day in Madrid 5 years ago. It's an unforgettable experience of the Christian life, and I cannot wait for this “foretaste” of heaven to be fulfilled in eternity. Little flock, your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Indeed these words are truer to me now than ever.

I pray you also can experience the joy of such moments, through personal retreat, through prayer, through friends, through the sacraments, through the beauty of this world. I can only encourage you to carve time out for what you were made for, for the true identity that Jesus reveals to you: a person of community, of faith, of persevering and loving despite the difficulties that the journey of life may bring. Give Jesus your heart, saying “Jezu Ufam Tobie” “Jesus I Trust in You.”

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