Sunday, January 27, 2013

Catholic family and tradition

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time C
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas
27 January 2013
Daily Readings

I'm not trying to rub KU's win over K-State on Tuesday in the noses of Wildcat fans.  Especially when it comes to KU basketball, I always try to keep it classy, and to act like we've been there before, which we have.  That being said, it's easy to tell the difference between KU and K-State basketball fans.  For one game, K-State fans become the angriest and loudest fans in the nation, turning Bramlage into ostensibly the 'Octagon of Doom.'  But it doesn't work.  Bramlage doesn't have the magic of Allen Fieldhouse.  And by magic I don't mean superstition or karma or phogginess, whatever that is.  By magic I really mean home court advantage.  A true home court advantage, as K-Staters learn, is not something you can just pull out of a hat when you need it.  It is an identity that you build up over time, bit by bit.  It needs consistency.  Again, I'm just using a metaphor that's available, not trying to pile on K-State, which has great fans.  Lord knows the chaplain at K-State could give the same homily about KU football fans.

St. Paul is talking in the second reading today about the parts of the body all being indispensable, as a metaphor for talking about what Christ's body, the Church, should be.  Allen Fieldhouse is consistently ranked as the greatest home court in the nation, even greater than Cameron at Duke, because this attitude that St. Paul talks about is the attitude of KU basketball fans.  Everybody plays a part.  Everyone is important.  That's the only way it works in the long term - if everyone shows up.  When you pack 16,300 not just for some games, but for every game, you end up with a home court advantage that is not a velleity or a gimmick, but one that is real.  That only happens if tens of thousands of people buy into the tradition that each person is important.  When that is real, it is powerful.  When people begin to doubt it, the whole thing crumbles.

Ezra and Nehemiah in the first reading are witnessing the aftermath of the loss of the city of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.  The walls of the city are torn.  The tradition is gone.  A once proud people have been scattered and made weak.  What did they do?  They began telling the tradition again.  They started reading their story, beginning with Abraham and then through Moses, as a way of telling the family story once again, of bringing the family back together.  The people were so overjoyed at hearing their story again, they wept and listened for six hours.  Think of what it would feel like to win a game at Allen Fieldhouse after losing every game for many years, and you get the picture.  More accurately, think about what it would feel like to re-enter your hometown after it had been occupied by foreigners for many years.  That is the scene that is being described.

I don't know if this happens in your family, but when my extended family gets together to hang out, it is a big deal who is there and who is not.  Nothing makes my grandparents prouder that to say that everyone came - all the grandkids, all the cousins - everybody!  You know you have a family when everyone plays a part, when everyone feels important, when everyone comes together.

So it is with Mass every Sunday.  This is our huddle.  This is our family.  Before we enter back into the world, we gather to hear our story, to share a meal, to make a gameplan for bringing the truth and love of Jesus Christ into the world, which is our mission.  Mass is not a drive-through and we are not customers.  We are family and we are owners, and the only way this tradition, which has lasted longer and produced more Hall of Famers than even Allen Fieldhouse, will keep going, is if everyone decides to play their part.  So let's huddle.  Let's hear our story.  Let's pray together.  Let's win!

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