Jesus in your House - Give up the Motorcycle!

Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

You want to have Jesus with you always, don’t you? In your house, just like Zacchaeus had Jesus in his house? There is a beautiful invitation from Jesus today,

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. (John 14:23)

Love Jesus, keep his word, and Jesus will come to you and live with you, he will always be with you. And when you have Jesus, you have peace unlike anything the world can give you. As Jesus says in our Gospel today,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. (John 14:27)

Yes we all want that peace but on another occasion Jesus said he came to bring a sword and not peace, so which is it? (Matt 10:34) The more we allow Jesus into every aspect of our lives, the more his word shows up what is in need of healing in our lives, so in that sense his word is a sword (Heb 4:12) Then when we allow the sword of Jesus, his word, to heal us, to remove anything in our lives that is a barrier or keeping us from Jesus, then there is even more room in our lives for Jesus.

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. (John 14:23)

During this Easter season, as we continue to celebrate Jesus risen from the tomb, I would like to recall one of the readings during the Easter Vigil, when St. Paul compared baptism to going into the tomb with Jesus and rising again out of the tomb with the new life of Jesus (Rom 6:3-11). In baptism we die to an old way of life and rise with the life of Jesus. The more we let anything in us die that is not leading us to Jesus, the more we will have the life of Jesus in us.

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. (John 14:23)

There was a joke told by a famous Italian priest (Fr. Luigi Giussani) about a Communist not giving everything to the Communist party but we could also see how it has meaning for us if we do not turn over every part of our lives to Christ.

Two Communists were talking to each other:
“Do you love the party?”
“Yes, I love the party, I would give my life for the party.”
“If you had 2 million dollars, would you give money to the party?”
“If I got 2 million dollars I would give everything to the party.”
“And if you had a house in the Riviera, would you give it to the party?”
“Absolutely, I would give everything, the party to me is everything.”
“And the motorcycle?”
“Stop. The motorcycle is mine.”

What is the motorcycle in our lives that is preventing us from totally following Jesus? In our time, for some, that motorcycle may be what is often called the American dream. But the American dream does not and will never satisfy because only Jesus will satisfy. We have to wake up from a dream to reality, and reality is life with Christ; life without Christ is not reality, it is not the American dream but could be the American nightmare! For some the motorcycle distracting them from Jesus may be trying to satisfy themselves with Facebook, or video/computer games, or TV, or just by living mindlessly, or saying there is no answer to my life. The motorcycle for some may be trying to distract themselves from whatever problem they face, but whatever is imperfect in our lives is really crying out to Jesus for his healing and wholeness. Jesus wants to come to us to heal us because he is the answer we need. Jesus is the solution. It is only by coming to Jesus with our motorcycle, whatever it is, that we will have more of Jesus in our lives and experience the peace Jesus talks about in the Gospel today.

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him…
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. (John 14:23, 27)

We see in the lives of some of the saints the transformation that occurred in them when they gave up their motorcycle and turned fully to Jesus. St. Ignatius of Loyola and his brother Pedro lived a wild youth. But when Ignatius was injured in battle, he began reading the Life of Christ and lives of the saints while he was recuperating. He noticed that he had a sense of peace while he was reading these but not when he turned his mind to other things. That was the beginning of his conversion, the giving up of his motorcycle to bring all of his life under Christ. We see a similar transformation in the life of St. Augustine. He grew up in Carthage in North Africa and also led a wild youth. He moved to Rome to take up a teaching position, and then later to Milan to take another teaching position. While there he heard St. Ambrose preaching but was not yet ready to give himself fully to the Lord. Finally, one day a line in Bible struck him so deeply that he was able to give his life totally to God (Rom 13:13-14; Confessions 8:12). Earlier he would have described his life in this way, “Lord make me chaste but not yet” (Confessions 8:7) but now after his conversion, “You have made us for yourself O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” (Confessions 1:1)

In our first reading today (Acts 15:1-2, 22-29) we see some people in the early Church still struggling to fully realize that once you have Jesus you have everything, still struggling with their motorcycle. They thought Jewish circumcision was still necessary but we see the Church deciding that it was not necessary because all you need is Jesus. This is confirmed in our second reading where St. John, in his vision of heaven, sees the Church in heaven founded on the twelve apostles and its light is Christ. There is no temple because in heaven God is the temple (Rev 21:22). We can have that peace of heaven with us everyday.

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him…
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. (John 14:23, 27)

In the heart of all of us there is that longing for God that St. Ignatius and St. Augustine experienced. Some try to satisfy it with their motorcycle, the American dream, or all sorts of technological distractions or running from a problem instead of acknowledging that a problem is crying out to Jesus for his wholeness. We all want Jesus with us in our home.

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him…
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. (John 14:23, 27)

© Fr. Tommy Lane 2016

This homily was delivered in a parish in Maryland near where I have joined the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.