Shine all the time: A homily for the Second Sunday of Lent

the-transfigurationI went to get my car washed yesterday. It was such a beautiful day that it turns out a lot of people wanted to get their cars washed. I ended up waiting for about a half hour. Of course, I came home and there was Msgr with a hose in the drive way washing his. He said, “That’s why you’re supposed to do it yourself.” He is a wiser man than I. But while I was sitting in that line at the car wash, I was reflecting on their slogan—“Shine all the time.” They were advertising their monthly $29 plan that enables you to get unlimited washes. I think that slogan is genius, and it’s all I can think of that can bring together the readings today and the two things the diocese wants us to preach about today (confession and a diocesan program) and the one thing the parish is making me preach on today (treasure).

I want to recommend five ways that we can shine all the time without having to pay $29 a month.

First, keep close proximity to God. That is, pray. Gaze upon him. In our first reading, we see Abram having a great day until all the sudden it gets pitch black dark. There, in Abram’s darkness, God came to him in a burst of light, in a “smoking fire pot and a flaming torch.” God’s brightness shone upon Abram and he glowed, he shined. A covenant was made that changed his life and the course of human history since. In the Gospel, three ordinary folks—they weren’t Jesus freaks or holy rollers—were summoned up the top of a hill. There, they looked at Jesus, who was dazzling white before them, and that glow came upon them. They looked at Jesus and were amazed. Like Moses when he received the 10 commandments and returned to the bottom of the hill with a glow that announced in itself that he had been talking with God, Peter, James and John in the same way got to the bottom of that hill and were shining. I say this as a way of saying: Go into God’s presence, look upon him, pray to him—and you will shine. You will be happy. You will be changed. Transfigured even.

Second, we can shine all the time when we go to confession. You know it’s important and not an optional practice for us Catholics. Once a year is the minimum, but I don’t think most of us can get a month without a moment of anger or dishonesty or pride or lust or gossip or greed or whatever. Go to confession. Get the ultimate car wash. Will you get dirty again? Yes. But confession is an unlimited car wash deal. You go as often as you can. We have confessions more here at OLG than any place else in the diocese. Twice a day. And you can stop any priest whenever and we must hear your confession. Here’s a deal: if you are worried what I might say r think, don’t worry. If you want, when you come to confession, you can tell me, “Just absolve me please,” and I won’t add any other comments. What matters is that you are made right with God. The Prior at St. Meinrad always says that in confession, we priests don’t see the worst in people: we see them at their best—contrite, bent on making things right, and humbled. Go to confession!

Third, we can shine all the time when we respond to and live our vocation. We have a program in the diocese called “Called by Name.” If you know someone who you think might be called to the priesthood or religious life, write their name on the card in the pew. We’ll take it from there. The bishop will write them and invite them to attend a little dinner. It is everybody’s duty to pray each day for more priests and religious. We need them desperately. I love being a priest. I am happier each day, I shine more each day. When we live our vocations, we shine. Dorothy Day said we know our vocations by the joy they bring to us, by how much they make us shine. You want to shine all the time? Do what God wants you to do.

Fourth, we shine all the time when we give of our treasure. Msgr will have more to say about this at the end of Mass, but I will just say this. When we give, we shine, we feel good, and we help others to shine as well in the receiving.

Fifth, we can shine all the time when we receive the Eucharist. That is the best source of shining. The God of Glory comes into us, circulates in our veins, lives in us, acts in us. That should make us shine!!!!

So there you have it—we can shine all the time by praying to God, going to confession, living our vocation, giving, and receiving the Holy Eucharist. The world needs us to shine. Jesus once said he came to set the world on fire, and O, how I wish it were already ablaze!!! Let’s do our part. Amen.