(Renovation and Re dedication of Holy Name of Jesus Church, Woodbury)
What happened? What happened in the Nazareth Synagogue that Shabbat 2100 years ago? Jesus, the local hero, comes home and announces that in Him the prophecy of Isaiah has come true: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; recovery of sight to the blind; to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. His neighbors loved him and rejoiced that he was their very own. Then they turned on him. Why?
Jesus has come as the Prophetic Messiah. He fulfills God’s promises to His Chosen People. But, as Simeon predicted at his Bris, Jesus is destined for the rise and fall of many because he comes to do, not what the mob is looking for. He comes to do the will of the Father. And therefore he comes not just for the Chosen People. He comes to save all humankind. His words are for all peoples. He announces that God’s love is universal. It is not just for those who try to possess God for themselves; not for those who think they are better than everyone else; not for the privileged few. Jesus is sent to break down the barriers, to make one all the peoples on the earth.
We who gather here on the joyous day are living, visible signs that Jesus has died for us all and that we all are called to be disciples of Jesus, the Son of God made man for our redemption. What began in Nazareth and Jerusalem spread across the Roman Empire and has never stopped being proclaimed throughout the world. The early martyrs of Rome like our own St Agnes to the Korean martyrs of the nineteenth century and into the last century of the largest numbers of martyrs ever, the Church has continued to give witness to Jesus Christ who announced his mission of salvation in that Nazareth Synagogue, a mission accomplished on the Cross that saved us to share in his Resurrection.
All of us whose ancestors were from the Mediterranean or Europe to all of you, our brothers and sisters, first called Chonju kyo udul, Friends of the teaching of God of heaven, we all are the children of God whose Son Jesus Christ made us all one as St Andrew Kim wrote before his death Know this: Our Lord Jesus Christ upon descending into the world took innumerable pains upon himself and constituted the Church through his own passion and increases it through the passion of its faithful.
Here in this beautiful Church you have made all things new and now offer to God this holy place which is God’s house and your renewed and enriched place to do what we are all called to do: WORSHIP GOD. By the fact that God is our creator every human being is called to acknowledge and worship God. But here, in this Church, your worship of God is Eucharist. “What return can I make to God for all he has done for me? I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the Lord!” When we worship God we are the most blessed of all people because God the Father comes to us through His Son Jesus Christ. He gives us our life and all the good things that come with it. He gives us new life in His Son and makes us sharers in his own divine life. When we come here we do what Jesus commanded his first apostles and the Church to do for all times: He took the bread, blessed and broke it MY BODY FOR YOU. He took the cup, blessed and gave it: MY BLOOD FOR YOU! As often as you do this, do it in memory of me!
The Eucharist we share here today is the great conduit of life and love in which we offer ourselves to Him who has already given us himself on the cross. As we praise the Father, The Father and the Son send the Spirit so that our gifts of bread and wine, our lives as his disciples, his friends, can become transformed first by his Word and then by his very Body and Blood, the bread of life for our journey on earth.
What a joy it is for me to be with you today and to share this sacred and joyful moment! How much are we all grateful to God that this one community of communion witnesses the universality of God’s love and the oneness of Christ’s Church in every nation and every culture!
And how much do the words of St. Paul describe who we are and what we have become because Christ dwells in our hearts and lives in our midst. For as his disciples, we all strive for the greatest of spiritual gifts: faith, hope and above all, love! Here we encounter love, divine love that comes down from heaven to dwell in our midst. Here our own loves for one another, spouses, family, parents, children, friends, neighbors, become transformed so that we learn to love others as Jesus loved us. Here we learn to love not only our won but all others, strangers, orphans, the poor, those who hate us as well as those who love us. We see everyone through the eyes of men and women who have seen God’s love on a cross, God’s love in a Church of witnesses through the centuries, God’s love as divine mercy offered to one and all.
My friends, a heart that knows Jesus’ love is a heart transformed that now embraces all humankind precisely in imitation of the One who first loved us. Today as we re-dedicate this Church to the Holy Name of Jesus we rejoice that God has called us and made us one with Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one with the Church from Rome to Korea to Woodbury, and we are confirmed as witnesses by our words and our deeds that we are solid in our faith, unwavering in our hope and above all, abundant in our love for God and for our neighbors. May the Holy Name of Jesus be always on our lips and may that Name be praised now and forever. Amen.