To feel at home at church and at church at home: A homily for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)

maryI want us to consider today two questions.  First, do I feel at home at church?  And second, do I feel at church at home?

These questions surfaced in my heart after having read our readings today.  The Gospel account is the default reading at the ritual of a house blessing.  And today’s first reading speaks about Jerusalem…which is code for the Church, which exists in heaven (heavenly Jerusalem), in Purgatory and here on earth.

First, do we feel at home in the church?  When I was growing up, I often felt like I lived at the church. I know every nook and cranny of St. Charles Borromeo parish in Bloomington.  I know every  closet because I’ve moved things into and out of every one of them. I know every classroom after having been a student in them all. I know the organ loft since dad played the organ there every Sunday morning. I know the kitchen, the conference rooms, the youth room…they all have a story.  That place is home to me.  Now, after a year here, this place is home, too. When I went to Guatemala years ago for a summer, I was a little uneasy when I got there…until I found the church. Then I felt at home. I leave this coming week for Mexico, where I will be for a month. I know I don’t have to worry because I will feel at home there, too….there are churches everywhere there.  Point being: do we feel at home in the church?  Do we spend time here, are we involved in the parish life, are we not strangers to this place who just happen to come here once a week for an hour?  It might start by talking with folks after Mass in the narthex or over a donut. There is no shortage of opportunities here to get involved and get more plugged in, more rooted here. Let’s take advantage of them. Let’s make this place feel more like home. And welcome others into it.

Second, do we feel “at church” when we are at home?  The Church teaches that every family is a “domestic church,” and so our houses are little parishes.  They should, like this place, be places of love, prayer, community, hospitality–places of the Lord.  They ought to have a churchy feel to them.  St. Paul tells us in the second reading, “I bear the marks of Christ on my body.”  Which means–people can tell that I am a Christian by looking at me. My necklace, my OLG shirt, my consecration bracelet, my smile…the way I live my life. Same with our houses:  People ought to know by looking at them that a Christian lives here. There should be crosses, pictures of the Lord and the Blessed Virgin, a statue or two, palm branches, etc. I think that if we are surrounded by what is holy, we become holy. Have you had a priest or deacon bless your house?  If not–send me an email and I’ll come over sometime to do it.

Let us pray today that we will do what we can to be more involved here, more at home here, and that we will do all we can to make ourselves feel more at church in our homes.