The Valley Catholic April 16, 2019 - Page 8

8 April 16, 2019 | The Valley Catholic SPIRITUALITY Sunday Homily By Father Brendan McGuire Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose, and Vicar General for Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at bmcguire@dsj.org. Holy Thursday, April 18, 2019 Only Service Entrance in Heaven Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 Lamp Lighter When I was 18 years old and came to America for the first time, I arrived in Dallas to work as a waiter for the summer. One of my waitering jobs was at Loews Hotel downtown for weekend lunches. I always remember it with great affection. Once you work in a hotel, you realize how hard the waiters and all the staff work. There was one rule at this hotel. As an employee, if you come through the front door you are immediately terminated. No questions asked. You are only allowed to come through the service entrance. The service entrance is always at the back of the hotel. It is a grubby entrance; there are certainly no potted plants and beautiful valet drivers at the back. When I was a kid, I always thought of heaven as a big hotel where you have first class service. You check in and it’s luxury service from then on; you get served from the moment you arrive. Right? I know it is a childish image but this image came from catechism class! The older I get the more I realize that is not quite the entrance into heaven. There is only one entrance into heaven and that is through the service entrance. It is the only way to get into heaven. I am more convinced every day that there is no front door in heaven at all. That is just a façade. The only way to get into heaven is through this service entrance. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus actually lay out the case: “Do you know what I have done for you?” If there is ever any doubt that we hope to get into heaven through the front entrance this Gospel dispels it very quickly. The only way for us to assure entrance is to serve one another. The people who washed feet in Jesus’ time were the lowest in the household. It was the lowest of all the servants who washed the feet. And if there were no servants then it was the women of the house; and if there were no women in the house, each person would actually wash their own feet. They would never allow the host to wash their feet. Jesus obliterates this understanding. He takes off his outer garment, he puts on a towel and starts to wash the feet of his disciples. What does it mean to serve for each of us? It is different for all of us. For some of us, we are doing it constantly day after day after day; we are pouring our life out for our children. To ask those to serve more would be absurd because they have already poured their life into their children. There is nothing more to give. For those, the challenge is to allow others to serve them. Now for the rest of us, we have to step up our game and really serve others. May we do for one another as Christ has done for us. Remember, there is no entrance to heaven except the service entrance. There is a story told of a 19 th century municipal worker, who worked in the city at night as a lamp-lighter. In those days, lamp-lighters would go from light to light on the street turning on the gas and igniting the flames in each of the lamps. At the end of the night, it was also their job to extinguish the gaslights. Once this particular municipal worker was asked by a reporter, “Don’t you find your job difficult that in the middle of the dark of the night you have to go out when it is cold and damp?” The old man said, “No. There is always a light in front of me that I must go to extinguish.” The reporter replied back, tersely saying “What about the last light? When you put out the last light then what?” The old man smiled and said, “Ahh, but then the dawn appears.” Tonight, we gather in the dark to celebrate once more the coming of Christ the Dawn of Salvation. The prophets foretold of him and each one of them was a light along the way that lit the way for humanity through the darkness. Some- times in the darkest of our times but eventually the dawn arrived, and a new day came. A new life came in Christ Jesus that each of us is born to new life in the Resurrection. We are born into newness of life. As we gather outside and light our candles on Easter night from that fire that symbolizes the light of Christ. We are each given a light, each and every single one of us. We are called to keep that light of Christ burning brightly for the whole world. We are called to be that light of Christ for the whole world to see that the new dawn, Christ has arrived. Christ conquers the darkness. No matter how deep the darkest night becomes, it is always overcome by the dawning of a new day. We celebrate tonight because now they become members of this Body of Christ. Now it becomes our journey to pass that light, that light of Christ, out to others. Again, we might ask how does that work? Jesus tells us that it is how we love one another. That is the simplest way. It is that gentle touch; it is that kind word; it is the encouraging word that helps the person, who is firmly planted in the dark of night and we hand them the candle of love, the candle of light that says continue to believe. I am with you; I believe in you. Tonight, we celebrate that we are called to point the way to the new dawn, Christ Jesus. It is a new day. And it is a new life in the Resurrection of Christ himself. The cost of living keeps going up. The cost of your funeral doesn’t have to. Like many things, costs will continue to increase, so locking in now is a wise decision. 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