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We are at home at the Eucharist

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
1 Corinthians3:16-23
Matthew 5:38-48

When I was younger, “home” was a place. More precisely, it was the place where I lived. It was easy for me to think that because most of my life I lived in one house. Then I moved to Oregon and as soon as I walked into a Catholic Church I was at home.

Today, when people ask me where my home is, the answer is not as spontaneous as it once was. Certainly, home is no longer Chicago. I’m not even sure that it is Oregon. Both are places where I live or have lived. They are not my home.

Home is the coffee shop where I meet my neighbors. Home is a religious community several miles away from my house. Home is my family in three other states. Home is wherever I gather with those who laugh and cry at the same things that move me. Home is the spirit that surrounds me when I am with those of like mind and values. Home is the memory of my past and the vision of my future. Home is the community that shares that past and seeks that future. Home is my family and home is my friends. Home is, more than anything else, the Church. It is the spirit that cannot be confined between the walls of even the sturdiest structure. The smallest chapel and the largest cathedral are home when fellow believers remember their common past and reach toward their future as God’s people.

Christians are really only at home when we gather with one another. The celebration of the Eucharist is home because this is where the otherwise silent stranger can tell us to “Be holy…love your neighbor as yourself” and we will listen. The Eucharist is home because it is where loving our enemies makes sense. It is home because it is the place where we know the Spirit of God lives in us and we can be the temples of the Lord.

In the midst of a community that seems devoted to materialism, the message to love one’s enemies might well seem naïve. When it is proclaimed at Eucharist, it makes sense. This is where we announce that we belong to Christ because Christ belongs to the Father. This is our home, where we strengthen one another and look to the Eucharist as food for a journey taken in the midst of a hostile world. The dreams of the young and the visions of the old join in one grand plan for a home all will share.

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