Saturday, December 10, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration

You know, faith is
a very serious thing.
Transcript of homily recorded on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration for Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 (Saturday of the Second Week of Advent)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

How many of you ever saw the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark"?

Can anyone tell me what happens at the very end, the very last scenes?

I'll try and recall it; I believe this is correct: The Nazis have come to this island and they have found the Lost Ark, the Ark of the Covenant. And the Jews believe they have the tablets in there. This was where they believe God was, in this ark. They carried it like we carry the picture, or if we were to carry the tabernacle somewhere, with the greatest respect, no one would touch it but the priests. It was sacred. They believed that somehow God was present there, just like we believe Jesus is present in the tabernacle and the Eucharist.

So the Nazis, they didn't even believe in God, but they said, but everyone else believes in this ark so we're going to get this ark and open it and have God on our side and we're going to control the world. So they're all gathered on this island, and Harrison Ford is there and this girl. And remember they're tied to a stake with their hands behind their back, and they're looking at all these Nazis. They're about to open up the ark. (This is all Hollywood, by the way; not true.) But they open up the ark, and Harrison Ford says to the girl, "No matter what, don't look at it! Don't look at it!" Do you remember why or do you know why he said that?

Well, the Jews believed this: If you ever looked at God's face you would die. Not because he's mean or bad, because he's too great. It's like if there's a 220-volt plug, should you wet your finger and put your finger in it? No. Why? You'll die! It's too strong, the electricity. So they always said, never look at God's face; you'll die.

Now, some parents, when they get upset with their kids, if their kids look up at them, "Don't look at my face! Look down at the ground!" Why? They say for respect.

My dad said the opposite: "Look at my face when I'm talking to you!" Because if I looked down, he said, "Look at me!" He wanted me to see that face that scared me.

So the Jews said, never look at God's face; you'll die. And in the movie, they open up the ark and it's beautiful, and they even say, "Oh, it's beautiful!" and then they all die, except for Harrison Ford and the girl because they didn't open their eyes.

What did we just pray during the responsorial psalm? "Lord, let us see your face." What?! "Lord, let us see your face and we shall be saved." We shall be saved. The psalm tells us, look at God's face, look at God's face, and he will save us.

You know, faith is a very serious thing. Boys and girls, you're studying for these two years. And you might think, "Two years?! Two years?! Why?" Because this is a very serious thing you're doing. You're gonna take the body and blood of Jesus Christ into your mouth and eat and drink. When you eat that host — the bread of life — and drink from the chalice, you're eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ, that Jesus Christ would be present in you. This is something we don't to lightly or not even aware of. This is serious.

Has anyone here ever run the [Los Angeles] marathon, the 26-mile marathon? I would never run it. Do you know if it's in March, do you know when they start practicing? Last October, November. I met somebody recently, and they said, "I'm going to run the marathon." In fact, it was at our Walkathon. And this young man, he ran for hours. He was skinny as a twig, but he kept running, and I said, "Are you crazy?" He says, "No, I'm going to run the marathon. I'm practicing now." I would never do that; it's so serious! You don't just show up that day, and you haven't practiced, and you think, "I'll run 26 miles." You'll drop dead. You practice for months because it's so serious.

And in a way, that's an example of two years of [communion] preparation, learning prayers and talking about God and understanding the Eucharist and why would Jesus be present to us in food; and what does food do, and it strengthens our bodies and understanding it, thinking about it, sharing about it, praying about it, listening to teachers, talking to each other, opening our minds. This is like a spiritual marathon. For two years preparing so that when we receive for the first time, we know what we're doing. It's a serious thing.

In these scriptures today, they talk about Elijah coming. Again we have language about God coming and changing everything because, when we open ourselves to God, when we look in that Ark of the Covenant, when we look in God's face, we're doing something very serious: we're dealing with God, we're opening to God.

I do appreciate weeks ago when we had a picture here, maybe it was on Wednesday evening with the other children, snd I said, "Would it be OK to smash this picture?"

They said, "No!"

"Why?"

"It's sacred; it's holy."

"Could you take the cross off your neck and throw it on the ground and step on it?"

"No! It's holy; it's sacred."

Well, this is what these readings talk about. When God gets involved with us — and he always is — but when we become aware that God is involved with us, we begin to understand something really serious is happening. We don't take it lightly. We don't just run the marathon. We open and practice and get prepared.

Today these readings tell us in the middle of Advent, almost really toward the end, that we are preparing to meet Christ at Christmas, and one day, at the end of time — serious thing, serious thing — to open ourselves to the presence of our God.

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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