The Center Of Our Lives – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily March 6, 2021

“There was a story of a man who feel off of a cliff and he was able to hang on to a tree branch, but it was foggy. He couldn’t see anywhere around him and he prayed to God. He said, ‘God please save me!’ And what did he hear? He heard, ‘Let go.’ He said, ‘No God, if I let go I’ll die. Please save me.’ He said, ‘Let go.’ But he was still hesitant to let go and his fingers were slipping. He could no longer hold any tighter and when he fell he screamed and he was surprised that he was just an inch off the ground. Sometimes that’s like us. In the spiritual life in our relationship with God it’s not so much in gaining of things, but more of letting go.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus clears the temple of the money changers of the goats of the sheep selling of all these things selling of the doves. He wants to clear the temple. In the Jewish culture the temple was a place where you met God, where you worship, where you met God, where humanity and divinity meet was in the temple and when Jesus talked about how he would destroy the temple and in three days he would raise it yes, they were thinking about the physical temple, but he was talking about him. He was the new temple where you meet God. Also what he’s calling us is the temple within us. The Holy spirit dwells within us, but what is in its way? What guides the direction of your life? What do you worship? What is most worthy to you in your life? Because it’s what we look at, what guides our life that we worship. In our culture it tells us to worship money, fame, success, if I have this I will be whole. All these things we let into our soul, our hearts and god wants to clear it away, clear it away so that you have the foundation that God is at the center of your life and it’s only then that your life will come to order. In the first reading today it’s the Ten Commandments. God makes a covenant with Israel and gives them the Ten Commandments, an order of their life. If you look at it from the first commandment down to the tenth it should go in that very order. It starts with God. The first three start with God: I am your God, you should have no other god besides me. Do not take the name of God in vain. Keep holy the sabbath and then the rest has to do with our relationship with others. In the Old Testament he gives us this covenant, a way of life. In the New Testament he gives us what jesus teached. It boils down to: love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love others as I have loved you, but first it always starts with God. Do you keep the sabbath holy? Before my time, people told me that Sunday used to be holy not just here in the church, but out in the culture it used to be different. It used to be different than any other day. Things would be closed on Sunday, but it made a point. It centered the week around this day and so too with each of us in our lives. We need a certain structure in our life don’t we? We know that children need it and us as adults we think we are better than that, but really we are not. We also need structure in our life, something to revolve our life around, but what is it that’s center of your heart, of your mind, of your soul? Is it God? Is it your family? Is it the world? Is it about politics? What is at the center of your life? If it’s not God, things don’t go well. We see in the Old Testament, but also we can see it out in the world, so what do we do with it? What if we know we don’t have God at the center, what do we do? We invite the Lord into it, in to the temple of our hearts to clear it away, but before we can ask God to enter into it we have to take ownership of it. God gives us, especially during this season of Lent, to come back to reconciliation, the sacrament of forgiveness so as to cleanse our temple before we receive Christ into our hearts.

Now as you go to confession, what do I have to confess my sins? We might know our sins, but it’s until we take full ownership of it that we can give it away. It’s only until we acknowledge that it is a struggle that we can finally surrender it to God and we do that in the sacrament. The people that I work with who do it best, I’ve seen it very clearly are people in recovery groups, alcoholics. The first step in the twelve steps is I admit a powerlessness over alcohol or whatever addiction that my life became unmanageable. It was only until they take full ownership of the wreckage of their life that they can finally surrender to God to help them clear up their life and so too with us during this season of Lent. It’s for us to go into the desert to clear away the wreckage of our life to clear the temple to make it clean so as to get back to the fundamentals to keep Christ at the center. Jesus in the Gospel also gives us this image that he will destroy the temple and in three days it will rise. This time is a painful time. Getting away, acknowledging your sins and purging them is a painful thing, but he points us to the hope in suffering that in his resurrection there is a reason for our suffering, so have hope in the resurrection, but during this season of Lent right where you are continue to come back to the sacraments. Come to reconciliation so as to clear your temple and to fully receive communion with Christ. So as you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly before you in the Eucharist, let us have the strength and the courage to take ownership of our lives, of our sins so that we can let go of it to God and trust him to be the center of our lives. Amen.”