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Bishop's Homily for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

How do we prepare to be in the presence of the Lord forever?

By Bishop Larry Silva
August 11, 2019

[St. Theresa Church, Kekaha (Confirmation/First Communion; Pastor Installation), Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Pearl City (Pastor Installation)]

If I came to this church, and the missal from which I read the prayers was not here, someone would probably rush into the sacristy to retrieve it, then you would have to wait as we rummaged around it to find the right pages.  If I go down to receive the bread and wine, and someone forgot to put them out, there would be a flurry of activity to get them ready in the sacristy.  Now, these things may happen from time to time, but we usually know that the good servants who minister here plan ahead and anticipate all the things that are needed.  They are attentive and ready.  When they fail, you notice, but when they do things right, no one notices, because that’s just the way things should be.

We could say the same about preparing a dinner for guests at our home or going on a picnic.  If we plan ahead and get everything ready as needed, all goes well.  If not, we have to rush around or make due (like using a small fork to scoop out potato salad), or do without.  We are good servants when we plan ahead and prepare well.

If that is so with the things I mentioned, then it should also be so with the most important thing in our lives, which is preparing for eternal life.  How do we prepare to be in the presence of the Lord forever?  How can we be ready to participate in the greatest love anyone can possibly imagine?

First, we realize that we are going to be with God forever.  If that is the case, we will want to come to know him now by praying and communicating with him.  He wants to know what is in the depths of our hearts, like anyone who loves us would.  But we also need to learn to listen to God.  He gives us wonderful ways to do this by revealing himself to us in the experience of people, which the Holy Spirit directed by written down in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible.  So if we are going to be well prepared to know God, we need to spend time with the Bible and with prayer.

Next, we also know that no one is in heaven alone.  It is a place for the communion of saints, in which we all join together in praising the Lord for all eternity.  Some people we will delight in being with.  Others, maybe not so much!  So to prepare ourselves for our final and ultimate destiny, we need to forgive those who hurt us, ask forgiveness from those we have hurt, and try to live in peace with everyone.  Jesus also taught us that when we reach out to the hungry, the thirsty, the sick and the imprisoned, we actually reach out to him, so our preparations need to be focused on helping others who are most in need, wherever we may find them.

But, as Jesus reminds us, it is easy for servants to forget about what is important if the master delays in coming.  So we need helps to remind us.  One is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will be given to you who are to be confirmed today.  He reminds us that, like Abraham or other people of faith, we should always have hope, never giving up just because we do not see immediate results.  It is the Holy Spirit who can remind us that, even if we are not perfectly reconciled with one another, little efforts can be miraculously multiplied.  Even if our prayer is not always fulfilling, our faithfulness to it can bear much fruit.

Then there is the greatest reminder of all, this Memorial Feast, this perfect Passover to which many of you will be invited for the first time today, in which Jesus gives his own Body and Blood to us, so that he can come right into us, remind us of how much we are loved, and remind us that he wants us to love one another by giving ourselves completely to each other in service, just as he does for us.

We do not yet see it, but we are invited to the greatest, unending banquet of the purest love.  But now it is our task to make sure that we are good servants who prepare for the Master’s coming, not only to ourselves, but for all the world.