The Call – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily January 26, 2020

“Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. That’s what Jesus tells us today, but what are we waiting for?  What are you waiting for to truly receive those words in your heart? You know, in the Gospel it always amazes me the calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John because who in their right mind would leave everything in a moment and come after him?  It makes me wonder, what was it about Christ? What was going through their mind? But then I realized Jesus didn’t call them to make a decision. He called them to a relationship and that’s the difference. Right now I want you to think about a relationship.  I want you to think about a very important relationship. Maybe it’s your spouse, maybe a best friend, but think about the beginning of that relationship. How was it? What did it feel like? Were you in your head or were you there in the moment? Often times in those relationship we realize who we are, that we aren’t perfect, but at the same time we want the other person to know us.  We want to know them and we’re willing to receive it. Now I want you to also think about that same relationship and the times where maybe you got into a fight or maybe you weren’t agreeing on something. Often times it’s not always about right and wrong, who’s right and wrong. Maybe if I can look at married couples, has it always helped knowing that you were right? Did it ever help knowing that you knew you were right?  It probably didn’t because often times it’s not about what’s right and wrong, but it’s about the relationship.

In the second reading today, St. Paul writes to the Corinthians and he talks about the division, the division they had and how I think about our world today.  It doesn’t apply just back then, but even today in the news in the social media everyone is arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong aren’t they? Who’s right and who’s wrong?  But don’t we realize that we’re all on the same team? If we’re all Christians, if we are the Universal Church, we’re all on the same team so it’s really not about right and wrong it’s about the relationship and that’s the very thing Christ calls us today, but are we willing to?  I know everyone here today is willing because you’re here. Not only that, you already entered into that relationship by the virtue of your baptism, but sometimes like that important relationship I asked you to think about sometimes we’re not fully there sometimes we’re not always fully engaged.  Sometimes we consciously disconnect from that relationship, so how do we stay there? How do we respond to Christ and grow into a deeper relationship with him in our lives? I think the very call that Christ tells us today is our cue. The first word he says is ‘repent’. He says, ‘repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.’  In some ways he doesn’t say, ‘Look the Kingdom of God is at hand, now repent.’ The first step is to repent. It’s to acknowledge that we aren’t always right. That’s the first step in any relationship. It’s to acknowledge that we need Christ in our lives that things aren’t perfect, but it’s not to stay there, but it’s to bring it to Christ.  In all of our lives there’s a tension isn’t there? There’s a tension between the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak so the key is to stop looking outside of ourselves for the problem because St. John Paul II said, ‘The battle between good and evil isn’t battled outside of ourselves.’ He says, ‘The battle between good and evil is battled between every human heart, so that’s the first step that we acknowledge that yes, there is a tension within each of our hearts, but the good thing is that’s the one thing we can change is our own lives, so let us stop looking outside of ourselves to prove someone else wrong so that we can feel right, but to look within ourselves to see our struggles and then bring it to the Lord.  Again, Christ isn’t calling us to know him, but he’s calling us to enter into relationship with him. Just as much as all of those relationships you have in your life didn’t start by making a full decision of I’m going to enter this relationship and it’s going to go like this, but you trusted and you saw what was in front of you and you just took one step at a time and I think that’s the call of Peter and Andrew and James and John. We see where it took them in their lives so we think how could they make that full decision, but when Christ called them on that boat he was just asking them to enter into relationship with him to receive his love and so today Christ is asking you the same thing, so what are you waiting for?

So as you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you in the Eucharist let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and the courage to stop looking outside of ourselves, to look within our hearts, see where we’re struggling, see where we need help and then invite the Lord into it so that he can help purify our hearts.  Amen.”