Word Magazine June 1985 Page 29
Homily By Father James C. Meena
Why are you in church? What have you come to church to do? What is it that you expect to receive by coming to this church at this time? Coming to church becomes such a habit, almost a social custom, something many people observe because it’s “the thing to do.” As a consequence of this, more and more people who consider themselves to be followers of Christ are really “Sunday Christians” and not much more than that.
It’s very rare to read an article in a newspaper in the middle of the week that has to do with religious events and you will almost never find spiritual programming on midweek radio or television unless it happens to be a special season. It seems that the mentality of our society will categorize worship as being a once-a-week-thing. Muslims do it on Friday, Jews on Saturday and the Christian world on Sunday. Everybody who worships donates one or two hours a week to God and the rest of the week belongs to them. This attitude toward worship is much the same as we have towards savings accounts, putting aside for a rainy day. If we take out 1 or 2 hours a week for worship and maybe a few seconds before we go to sleep for prayers, that’s sort of building a “savings account” that we can draw on later when God requires of us an accounting for our lives. Tragically, however, most of us are going to be overdrawn when that accounting comes.
Why are you in church? You are in church in order that you might receive, that you might learn, that you might straighten out some misconceptions, that you might be inspired and that you might offer yourself unto God as a continual sacrifice, as He offered Himself for you, and that you might seek the transforming grace and power of God so that as you go into the world you might have the power to help in its transformation as well. You are in church to receive gifts so that you may give gifts and you are in church to give of yourself in order that you might receive Him. But understand this. . . God does not require of us, except that He gives to us first. He didn’t require of us sacrifice before He sacrificed for us, nor that we learn before He sets down for us, by His teachings and His example, that which we ought to learn, nor that we love one another without having loved us first and proven His love for us, nor that we serve without first having given us the talents with which to serve.
One of the reasons we are in church is to be reminded that talents were given to each of us and that we are expected to use them to the Glory of God, and to give them back to Him Who gave them to us in the first place. Notwithstanding how insignificant that talent may seem to be, it can be of precious value to the ministry we are given to fulfill. Is your talent something as simple as being expert with needle and thread? I point out that the drape on the Royal Door of my church was hand sewn in 1935 by a woman of my parish, and it has been in use for 50 years. Singers in the Choir, the Chanters, those who are ushering, those who handle the candles, those who cook the food that is served for the benefit of our fellowship, those who work on the Parish Council, those who teach in the Church School, all these have recognized the talents which God gave them and they offer them back to God. The man who built our Iconostasis, by anybody’s standard was a very simple, unassuming man who demanded very little of life, but he gave his talents back to God. God gave him the opportunity to develop His talent as a boy, apprenticing to master cabinet makers in Syria, and he brought that talent with him to the new world and offered it back to God.
Beloved, what is your gift? What is your talent? Is it to work day and night in order that you might just survive and make a living? Is that the talent that God has given to you? Then God help you, because if that’s all there is in life for you, you might as well go down to the Justice Center and let them lock you up in jail. If all there is in life is to slave to make a living, you’re better off to go out and commit a crime and let them put you in jail, because even people in jail eat three meals a day, are clothed and sheltered and they are just as free as you are because if you are a slave to work, a slave to money, a slave to your future, then you are just as much a prisoner as those who are locked up behind bars.
What are you doing in church? Why have you come to church? What is it that you expect to receive? We have only a few things to give you: the Word of God and the precious and life-giving Sacraments which He gave to us freely. In His service, we give to you freely. But God gives to you first and He asks of you in return. What will your response be?