We were very pleasantly surprised today at the 9:30 A.M. Mass for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bishop Calvo gave the homily on the Gospel reading and “Get Low,” starring Robert Duvall as a Felix Bush, a citizen of Dogwood, Roane County, Tennessee on June 26, 1938, and a member of Cave Creek Baptist Church.
In the case of the real Felix Bush, his pastor, Rev. Jackson stood up to preach the funeral sermon. Reverend Jackson stated in the homily of the funeral, “It might be wholesome for everyone to hear his own funeral while he is living…Here we speak of life, if life is all right; there is nothing to fear about death. There are no tears and heartaches, only happiness at this service… If a lot of those roughnecks out there had to face the music before they pass out, they would improve their way of living.”
Bishop Calvo took off with his homily. We should all live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear that homily, the statement of our lives. In “Get Low,” Rev. Jackson does not give the homily about Felix Bush. The people of Dogwood are asked to tell Felix Bush stories about him. Bishop Calvo related that we should always live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear what other people say about us.
In Matthew 22:32, Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, which says, “‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” He adds, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” In Aramaic, “God of the living” is “Elohim Chaim.” Grammarians call this the construct case, which means it can also mean, “God of Life.”
Bishop Calvo took this point to take Rev. Jackson’s homily a step further. We must we live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear what people would say about us at our funerals. Also, we should live our lives in such a way that we would want to hear what the God of Life, the God, the Abba, who is love, Ahabba, the One who is to come, has to say about us.
Bishop Calvo related this to the Gospel reading, “The bridegroom came, and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. The door was locked. The other virgins came and said, ‘Kyrie, Kyrie, open the door for us!’ The bridegroom replied, ‘I do not know you.”
Bishop Calvo pointed out that God is the God of Life and of Love. He knows life and love. If we live our lives in life and love, God knows us, because we are like him. If we lead a life of life and love for others, and ourselves, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or what they may have done or not done, as individuals and as a nation, God knows us. If we live our lives in any other way, God does not know us. As we stand before him at the Pearly Gates, God will tell us, “I do not know you.” At the other side of those pearly gates is the great Eucharist. In the Eucharist in this world, we pledge to bring God into our lives. Do we live that life? This is part 1; for part 2 please click here.