"Beloved, you are strangers and in exile."
My friends, years ago, I never thought that I would like to travel outside
the United States. It didn't fascinate me, the idea of traveling around
Europe, or anyplace else. Then I made a trip outside the United States.
I went to Israel and the travel bug bit me. I found out it's not so bad
out there after all. I really liked it. It was fun to go to various countries
and see different cultures and try to understand what these people were
like, what their mentality is. But it was always good to come back - even
through customs - to the United States of America once again. I felt as
though St. Peter, in the first reading, was speaking to me when he was
saying, "You are strangers and in exile."
When I travel beyond our borders, it's to another country and I am a
stranger in a strange land. I probably would be identified as "one of those
Americans" when I travel because I didn't speak the language very well.
I tried to pick up a few phrases here and there in order to get along.
I would be able to say, "Wo ist die badezimmer", if I was in Germany. And
that's a very important question to be able to ask. For those of you who
do not know German: "Where is the bathroom?" But that's about all I would
know - just a few phrases and that's it. I was a stranger in a strange
land and how comforting it was to get back to the good old United States
of America again.
St. Peter is saying that we are strangers, we are exiles. Don't get
to comfortable with this place because this is not your true home. Your
true home is in heaven. Your true home has been prepared for you. Jesus
said, "I go before you to prepare a place for you. . . In my Father's house
there are many mansions."
Recently my family and I moved from one house to another with the gracious
help of a number of you. Later that evening, I sat in the basement among
the boxes just looking at them, meditating on them, "What mysteries will
they unfold as we open them because I can't remember where I packed anything."
You know the feeling. But I began to think also that as fine as this new
house is, it's not our true home. We'll be strangers here as we were strangers
in the other place as well. I don't mean it to be maudlin. I don't mean
it to be sad. I certainly don't mean it in some puritanical way, that everything
of the world is somehow evil. No. But I do try to understand, as I would
have you understand, that as we are so comfortable with our surroundings,
is not our true home. Our true home is much more wonderful than what we
have now. And the possessions that we have! Boxes and boxes of them. "Why
did we keep all this stuff?" The question always arises at this point.
We are always so reluctant to let anything go, as though it were ours,
rather than entrusted to us by God for a period of time. I believe one
could make quite a meditation on a stack of boxes. I think you and I could
consider very carefully as we walk about our homes this afternoon, "It's
good to be here in this home and yet we are strangers. We are aliens in
an alien land. Our true home is in heaven."
It's an essential part of our understanding. No wonder the apostles
couldn't figure out Jesus when he was telling them in the Gospel reading,
"In a little while you shall see me. And again in a little while you shall
not see me. I am going to the Father." He was talking about his death when
they would not see him, and his resurrection, when he would be visible
to them again. He was going to present this world to the Father. All of
us. All of what we are and all of what we have, he gives to the Father.
He surrenders it to the Father. And you and I are a part of that sacrifice,
of that gift. We do not hang on and say "Father". It is to be surrendered
to the Father in sacrifice.
What a simple idea can be born of a move. What a simple idea can come
from traveling to a foreign land. The simple idea is: why did God make
me? God made me to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world
and to be happy with him forever in the next. Our true home is with God
Please note: These sermons are offered for your meditation.
If you wish to use them for some other purpose or republish them, please
credit St. Dunstanís Church and Fr. Sisterman.