We have a mission priest at my parish this weekend, so I won’t be preaching. But here’s part of my homily for this Sunday in 2016, which — with the Olympics in mind — compared the Christian life to gymnasts on the balance beam:
The question we need to ask: how do we stay on balance?
It goes back to what I mentioned earlier: grace.
The grace of Baptism made each of us a child of God. That is just the beginning.
The grace of Confession, of Reconciliation, reaffirms and renews us on those times when we fall off the beam—when we slip and stumble and sin—and gives us the courage to get back on and begin again.
The grace of the Eucharist nourishes and sustains us to live out our call as Christians—as followers of what the first Christians called “The Way,” that narrow path, that slender beam, of sacrifice and prayer, of mercy and love.
Grace, the grace given to us by God through his Son, makes it possible for us to make leaps of faith—and, as they say in gymnastics, “stick the landing.”
Every gymnast will tell you that you that the balance beam demands time, practice, sacrifice. The narrow gate, the narrow beam, asks more. The narrow way of the Catholic Christian calls us to stand straighter and try harder. With this Gospel before us, this Sunday is a good time to take stock.
Do we make prayer a priority?
Do we listen for the voice of God?
Do we trust in God’s will for our lives?
Do we care for those who are forgotten, neglected, abused, marginalized?
Do we defend the defenseless—the unborn, the sick, the bullied, the elderly?
Do we strive, day by day, to be holy people?
When people would ask [Mother Teresa] for some words of wisdom, she would take their hand and remind them that the Gospel was with them, right there in their hand. And she’d touch each finger and say, “You did this for me.” Remember that, she’d say, quoting scripture: “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”
Do we remember the Gospel in our hand? Do we live that?
This is how we enter through the narrow gate, the gate that is Jesus Christ.
And this—enlivened and enriched by the grace of the sacraments—is how we stay on that 3.9 inch-wide balance beam of the Christian life.
As we approach the Eucharist this morning, and extend our hands and our hearts to welcome Christ, let us pray for the grace to live as Christ taught us—to take leaps of faith with courage and with poise, so that we can do what every gymnast aims to do…and really “stick the landing.”