Hold Jesus and let go of the rest: A homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

I’mIMG_9957 happy to be home from my pilgrimage. It was certainly a grace-filled time. I want to share those graces with you, so I’m going to put together a slideshow and share a little next Sunday at 6:30pm. I’ll also give the presentation in Spanish.  I didn’t see our Lady in the sky or in my toast, but I saw her in my heart and that is probably more important.

There is a painting that caught my eye in Medjugorje called “Kissing the face of Jesus.” It is beautiful. I was so moved by it I bought a copy and am going to put it up in the office. It is an picture of Mary tenderly holding the child Jesus in her arms and giving him a kiss.  I’ve been reflecting on this image and what it means for us.

I think it means this:  when we hold onto Jesus–I mean when we really hold him in our hearts–we can and do let go of everything else.  So many of us hold on to so much. We hold on to past failures, grudges, anger, addictions, wrath, money, power, titles…this person treated me badly and I hate them….that woman is a witch….all this stuff….we hold onto it.  Sirach says that in our humanity we often hug war and wrath.  We hug this stuff.

But in holding Jesus, we can let go.

In holding Jesus, Mary let go of everything else–her fears of the future, her preoccupations of what others thought about her, her uncertainty, everything.  She held Jesus and let go of the rest.

There is a Hill in Medjugorje called Cross Hill.  It takes a while to climb. On the top is a giant cross. People go up there and leave their junk there, and they let go.  A man on the pilgrimage told how he left his addiction to alcohol there some years ago and hasn’t had a drop since. He let go. And he held onto Jesus.

But we don’t have to go there to let go of this stuff.  We can do it right here.  Hold on to Jesus!  And then you can let go of the rest!

Hold onto Jesus!!  That we must do, and teach our kids to do.  I don’t know that anyone “loses Jesus” or “loses the faith.”  They throw it away.  Our job is to teach everyone we know–through example, prayer and words–to hold tight to Jesus, to embrace him with everything, just like Blessed Mother.  We show the world the joy and peace and love and faith that comes from holding onto Jesus more than anything else.

We don’t just hold Jesus. We look him into the eye and kiss him.  My favorite thing about baptism is staring the child in the eye as I pour water on his head. I’ve searched for the words to describe this, and then the other night I went to Poetry Night at the Strand. A young woman read a poem and one line went like this: “I wish you could see: there is a universe inside you!”  When I stare into the eyes of a child, I see that universe inside!  Like Isaiah says in our first reading: God knows your name! St Paul says in our second reading: I love you and pray for you! You were chosen in Jesus!  There’s something incredible about looking someone in the eyes. You feel your connection to the person, your obligation to him.

And if looking at a person does that, all te more so does this happen when we hold Jesus and look him in the eyes!  St John Vianney said, I’m not a smart man…I’m not holy….but when I go to adoration, I look at Jesus and he looks at me.  That’s what it’s about!  Looking into Jesus and letting him look into us.  That is what happens at adoration in a special way.

Hold onto Jesus!  Hold onto him with everything!  And let go of the rest.  Give him everything, give him his due. And let go of the rest.  Kiss him, look him into the eyes and let him look you in the eyes!  This is what a relationship with God is all about.