Fr. Dale began his homily at Christ the King yesterday by observing that we hear and repeat to ourselves all sorts of affirmations to help us feel good. (You can check any self-help book or advertisement for the sorts of affirmations common in our society.)
Our Mass readings, Fr. Dale suggested, give us three affirmations, which we are invited to embrace – and our embrace of which would make all the difference in the world. The three are: (1) You are loved; (2) You are filled with the Holy Spirit; and (3) You are my (Jesus’) friend.
Jesus received his own affirmation from his Father. We don’t know the content of Jesus’ conversations with his Father, but we do, said Fr. Dale, know that Jesus was filled with and confident of his Father’s love for him. As a result, he was able to extend love freely to all – including the marginalize and the sinners. And he was so filled with love that he had the strength to lay down his life for us.
We are unlikely to ever be called upon to lay down our lives for another. However, Fr. Dale suggested that we might profitably ask ourselves what we are prepared to lay down:
Can I lay aside my head: Can I put down the need to have my own opinions prevail where my insistence on them operates to the detriment of peace and love?
Can I lay aside my heart: Can I put aside my desires where those desires don’t contribute to the common good?
Can I lay aside my soul: Can I put aside my own need for the sake of the needs of others?
On my own, the answer to such questions is assuredly No. However, if I embrace the affirmations of today’s readings, if I really believe that I am loved, that I am filled with the Holy Spirit, that I am Jesus’ friend, there might be a different answer to them.