Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 2:2-33; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

Last Sunday I mentioned how the challenge that these Sundays after Easter present to us is the question: how do we live as a Resurrection people? How do we express a living hope in our lives? Last week’s readings told us that we do this by a love for our community that’s based on mutual respect. In today’s second reading, from the first letter of Peter, that gets drawn out a bit further. If we truly have respect for others in our lives, we will show it in reverent behavior: St. Peter writes "conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning...." Reverent behavior means that one deals with other people, always acknowledging the value they have as a person. That can be done in a lot of different ways.

Today’s gospel passage about the two disciples on the way to Emmaus provides an excellent example of reverent behavior through the virtue of hospitality. A stranger comes along and joins these two disciples, talking with them and betraying ignorance about recent events in Jerusalem. They had to think the guy was pretty dense. But that didn’t stop them from extending hospitality for the night; theirs was a reverent behavior. And, of course, Jesus is revealed in the midst of all that in the breaking of bread.

Another place where reverent behavior is often shown comes from an unusual television show, Undercover Boss. Now I’m not a usual watcher of the show. I’m really interested in the show which comes on after it at 10:00pm on CBS Sunday nights; that’s what I set my DVR for. However, CBS usually has some sports program on in the afternoon, which inevitably runs overtime. That means that the next day on my treadmill I wind up watching the last ten or fifteen minutes of Undercover Boss before my program comes on. If you don’t know what Undercover Boss is about, it concerns the president or CEO of a company going to work undercover as a new employee just hired by the company. It shows the mistakes he makes and how the other workers and his immediate bosses deal with him (or her). The last ten or fifteen minutes of the show—the part I am forced to watch—the truth comes out. The Boss is revealed and has individual evaluation sessions with those who were in charge of introducing him as a new employee into the company. Those people who are both praised and rewarded are those who dealt with the newcomer reverently, patiently putting up with mistakes and trying to teach improvement step by step. It’s really a very good example of reverent behavior.

That’s what should characterize all of us disciples of Jesus in our life together. It should be a hallmark of how we live in community. And yet it can so easily slip away. We fall into routines of how we deal with people. We gradually take them for granted—after all we see and interact with them everyday. We come to assume we know what their intentions are. Slowly we come to think the worst.

There are times we need to re-examine our daily behaviors and see if they are still characterized by reverence. The Sundays after Easter are a good time for that. Take some time to look carefully at how you deal with the people you interact with everyday: the people in your hall, the people you work with, the people you find yourself sitting with at table, especially the people who may be below you in your worksite. St. Peter says again: "Conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning." Let’s pray that it may be so for all of us!

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