At Mundelein Seminary, each deacon is required to preach one homily to the seminary community. This was my opportunity, so it's obviously geared more towards seminarians than my usual homilies. Of course, it came the day after we returned from the Papal Youth Rally, so I had to throw a little of Pope Benedict's address into this homily. Hope you enjoy.
In the Gospel today, Our Lord gives us not only one, but two great promises. First, he promises that those who love him will dwell with Jesus and his Father. Second, he promises to send the Holy Spirit to teach and guide. For those of us who are called to the ordained ministry, these promises can be, and should be, very comforting, but they also provide a sense of direction for our lives and ministry.
We know that the Father wants all men and women to love him and to spend eternity with him. We also know that this will not be forced on anyone, but must be a free response on the part of the individual person. This is very comforting for those of us who have responded and continue to respond positively to God's invitation for love, but it also provides the challenge to show God's love to those around us who may not have responded in the same way. In the first reading, Paul and Barnabas were in the midst of their ministry proclaiming the Gospel and showing God's love to all they encountered. While we may not be required to walk the countryside healing the lame, as they did in today's reading, we still have the obligation to visit the sick, comfort the sorrowing, and all the other corporal and spiritual works of mercy. By performing these works not for show, but through a sincere love of God and neighbor, we will show the love of God and guide others to loving him.
This is where the second promise comes in. Those of us who are called to enter into the ordained ministry are to be conduits through which the Holy Spirit will be able to teach us and remind us of all that Jesus told us. For this reason, we must be open to the work of the Spirit within our lives. We will be called to preach the Gospel, and must spend time in prayer and reflection on the Scriptures to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our words. We must continue to study, spending even just a few minutes every day reading a book that will help us grow theologically and spiritually. We must be open to ministering in places and situations that we might find personally uncomfortable or beyond our abilities. We must open ourselves to the guidance of the Spirit, both for ourselves and for those we serve as ministers.
If we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, we will show the love that we have for God and will lead others to experience God's love for themselves. As Pope Benedict reminded us at the youth rally on Saturday, “Remember that what counts before the Lord is to dwell in his love and to make his love shine forth for others.” May the Holy Spirit come down upon us to allow God's love to shine through us.