First Mass Homily: A Constant Journey Further Up and In

Author: Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C.

Fr Brian Ching, CSC ordained April 6, 2013

Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., was ordained a priest on April 6, 2013, in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Here is the homily from his First Mass, celebrated April 7, 2013 at St. Joseph Parish in South Bend, Ind., where he has been serving this past year as a deacon.
 

Fr Brian Ching, CSC preaching at his first Mass at St Joseph Parish, South Bend

Thomas often gets a bad wrap in today’s gospel as all the focus quickly shifts to his demand for proof, to his doubt. But if you really think about it, Thomas’ reaction is one that is natural to us. As humans we tend to rely on that which we know, that which we can experience, which we can touch, smell, taste, hear, and see. Experience combined with our intellect is what gives us the ability to know, it’s simply how we come to understand the world around us.

Yet in today’s Gospel Jesus admonishes us saying “blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” These are difficult words to hear because they seem to run contrary to the way we come to understand the world around us. But Jesus is not suggesting that we give up our quest for knowledge and simply believe whatever is told to us. He is suggesting however that when it comes to God, this plan falls incredibly short, and in fact we need it to fall incredibly short.
 
If God were not so great, so powerful and so beyond our understanding then He wouldn’t be God. If God were someone who we could know and understand so well that we would be able to control Him, then it would be impossible for Him to offer us salvation. God’s great depth and His infinite mystery give us hope because it means that our own human limitations can be transcended and that there is something out there that is much greater than our own feeble human endeavor.
 

Fr Brian Ching, CSC first Mass

Thus our relationship with God needs to look a little different because we need him to be infinitely beyond our understanding. This is what makes our life of Faith and our celebration of Easter so important. Our Faith is not a blind acceptance of random truths. Rather our Faith is a relationship with a God who has demonstrated the greatest love and care for us because He entered our world, became one of us, died for us, and then transcended our world by rising from the dead. What good news this is because it means that while God is infinitely beyond our understanding, at the same time God uses our world to reveal Himself to us. By his death and resurrection God has made known to us his saving power.

Our life of Faith then is a constant journey further up and further in as C.S. Lewis would say. Each and every day God invites us to grow deeper into the mystery He has revealed to us. Does this mean we all like John have great and direct revelations? Well, no. But what it does mean is that God speaks to us through this world of ours that He created and then redeemed with His own blood. In all that we are and all that we do we are called to see the presence of Christ in others and share that presence with others.

My friends, this is what our vocation is all about. My vocation as a priest and that of my many brother priests here with me is to make Christ's presence known in our world, especially through the administration of the sacraments. This is what drew me to this life when I began discerning many years ago and I can only hope that this is what will sustain me for many years to come.
 
But while we as priests are entrusted with the administration of the sacraments, we are not alone in our responsability to make Christ's presence known in our world. We are all tasked with that vocation. Whether married or single, professor or plumber God calls each of us in a variety of unique ways to make Him known, loved, and served.
 
We will certainly fail in this endeavor at times. At times our faith will waiver and our charity will be found lacking. Yet it is precisely in these moments when our Lord's love becomes most abundantly clear. "Our Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy." No matter how difficult things get, the Lord will always be there, offering us His Divine Mercy. We just need the trust and faith to be able to accept it.

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