Homily 4th Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle C February 3, 2019

Nobody knows us like God does. He knows the ins and outs of our lives, the ups and downs, the external and the internal. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you.” These words of God to the great Prophet Jeremiah speak not only to the intimate closeness of God’s presence to us, but they also speak to the first half of the Super Bowl game. How so, you ask? God is the only one who knows the outcome of the contest, unless you subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the game is already rigged and fixed. We’ll assume for the sake of this Super Bowl homily, that the game is not jeopardized in any way prior to the opening kickoff. Because prior to the opening kickoff of our birth, which for some of us was long ago, God had a plan. Some of that plan has been as smooth as a Tom Brady drive with less than two minutes to go. And, some of that plan was like having the football ripped out of our hands, causing a fumble in our lives. However, the first half of life is a time when only God knows the eventual outcome. Most football games are not won or lost in the first half; just ask Dismas, the guy who was crucified next to Jesus and gladly heard every one of those saving words spoken to him by Jesus in the most compassionate and loving Aramaic, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The first half of our Super Bowl does not dictate the outcome. We always have time for a comeback of immense proportions if needed. We hope the Patriots don’t need to do so, again. God formed us and knew us, and loved us and saved us. We shouldn’t lose this insight in the first half of the Super Bowl of Life. But perseverance is the key that opens the door to a better second half. At halftime, we sing, using the refrain of today’s psalm, “I will sing of your salvation.” I doubt they will be singing of the Lord’s salvation at halftime at the Super Bowl in cold Atlanta, unless one of the teams is losing by three touchdowns, where they will need his saving intercession. The halftime show, we’re sure, will be entertaining. But I prefer the melody of the Lord’s salvation. The 3rd quarter of life’s Super Bowl is similar to this world famous 2nd reading from St. Paul on the greatest of all virtues, love. How so, you ask? After being formed in the womb with God knowing the span of our entire lives even before our conception, and addressing the uncertainties of the first half, wise people come to embrace, understand, and implement the power of love. Faith is the virtue that moves mountains. Love is the virtue that moves God. It’s in the 3rd quarter of many of our lives when we need to score more points on behalf of Jesus. The 3rd quarter is when – for many of us – the outcome of this game begins to set in. It’s when we start watching the clock of age, knowing that love is the best preparation for entering the final quarter of our lives. There’s nothing sadder than an angry elderly person. There’s nothing more beautiful than a loving elderly person. The 3rd quarter is the time to search harder for the many attributes of love that Paul writes. To be patient; to be kind; to not be jealous, pompous, inflated, or rude. The bad stuff, where it exists, is for the younger years, the less wise, those who think they’re going to live forever. Or those who have no fear of God. Love is the greatest of the trio of faith, hope, and love, because it never fails before God. and. Love is the most perfect imitation of our Savior. The 3rd quarter is the time to score many points through love’s power, because there is no better preparation for the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl of Life. Therefore, this Gospel that moves from the synagogue to Jesus being chased out of town to the edge of a hill, is a most fitting Gospel for our Super Bowl. How so, you ask? Because, probably like tonight’s game, it was a close call. You see, when we become more loving in our lives, there’s someone who doesn’t like it. The guy with the pitchfork! Luke left that part out of the Gospel story; they chased their native Son Jesus out of the town with pitchforks in their hands. The 4th quarter is a time for trusting even more in the Lord, for he is an Eternal Rock. Some rabid fans would consider this eternal rock to be Tom Brady, but it’s really God. At this point in the game, as we approach the end of life itself, the question still remains, “Who’s going to win this game? Who’s going to win our soul?” The 4th quarter is the most serious quarter of this game, by far. The first 3 quarters and halftime were a buildup to the 4th quarter. A very important buildup. A buildup that will form and shape the outcome of this game. For those who are winning by 5 touchdowns in the 4th quarter because you’re entire life you’ve been true to the Lord your God, you’re in a great place spiritually. Stay there and finish the game without changing any of your plays connected to your faith and good works. For those of us with more uncertainty of the outcome of our personal Super Bowl, there’s no need to allow ourselves to be pushed to the edge of a hill at this stage of the game. Jesus will walk through the midst of all that danger, and he will come to you. The 4th quarter is the time to remain intently focused on Christ, every day, because they can’t kill our Lord. And when they finally do put him to death, he returns to the field 3 days later. He formed you in the womb because he loves you, and has a plan for you, whatever our age. Sing along the way whenever you need a halftime. We all need a joyful halftime in our lives. Allow the greatest of all virtues, love, to score many points for you. And, in the final 15 minutes of life, or 15 years of life, trust in his presence walking with you, because he is alive forever. Not even Tom is a better quarterback than Jesus. But we’ll settle for Tom tonight as the Patriots win another Super Bowl.