Sunday Homiles- Fr. Luke Uebler

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.”  Words from our Gospel today from the 15th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John – sisters and brothers may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

Last week Thursday and Friday and Saturday, was the player draft for the National Football League.  In Buffalo, of course, there has been a lot of hype around the draft for the last number of years because it is our annual chance to add some talent to the roster and work towards building a super-bowl caliber team.  And since this year we weren’t drafting for need so-to-speak, the possibilities seemed endless as to how we were going to improve upon our recent success.  Some are happy with Greg Rousseau and the lineman we picked up, while some are disappointed that there weren’t more skill positions addressed; of course, right now, we don’t know how everything will pan out, but we can say, however, that there has been a great emotional investment on the part of Buffalo Bills fans over these past months as we dreamed and hoped and envisioned what the future could hold for us and for our team.

Similarly, God has been invested in the future of his Church and his Kingdom.  God has done his homework and has been scouting us; he sees our gifts and our talents and wants to develop them that they might be put to good use.  And the moment has come: Jesus has chosen us to play for his team; we have been selected, drafted.  We don’t always realize it, but we are here today because God has called each of us, by name.  Somewhere along the lines of our life, God has reached out to us to be on his team.  And we gather together with Christians everywhere this day, as we do every Sunday, for our weekly team meeting, where we listen to the readings and hear of God’s game plan.  In our readings today, he shares with us his vision of a self-sacrificing love, a love that gives up personal glory as we play our part for the good of all.  There isn’t an ‘I’ in team; rather, as the acronym T.E.A.M. goes: Together Everyone Achieves More.  And our coach leads us in this, loving us first; he doesn’t only talk the talk, he walks the walk.  He has put everything on the line for his people, has laid down his life for us, and indeed the victory of the resurrection over sin and death is felt and shared by us all.  God’s vision is a winning formula.  We ought to listen to the coach and follow his commands.  Christ is Risen!  He knows what it takes to win.

Each Sunday, we come together to put that vision into practice as we celebrate the Eucharist and we re-enact the Paschal Mysteries that have been handed on to us, as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice and share his Body and Blood in anticipation of that glorious day when we are all victorious over sin and death and dwell forever in heaven as it was for Jesus on that Easter Sunday morning.  Each Sunday we are sent on mission – the priest or deacon tells us to go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life, that we may do our part in turn, to build up God’s Kingdom by loving as he loves, and so help secure that victory.  Coach Christ tells us in the Gospel, “I have chosen you and appointed you to bear fruit that will last.”  Put me in coach!  Indeed, God has an important role for each of us on his team so that the Kingdom of God can come to fruition.

But we know that draft choices don’t always pan out.  Certainly, God doesn’t want us to become draft busts.  Jesus tells his disciples these things over the course of the Last supper, when he knows that he is facing crucifixion and death the next day, because he wants to assure them and rally them for the challenges to their faith that lie ahead.  Like Coach McDermott, he is asking them to trust in the process as they go through all the ups and downs of the long season ahead of them, the season of life…  Jesus wants us to be victorious, “I tell you this,” he says, “that your joy might be complete.”  God believes in us, and has given us all the tools to do well, but what we do with those tools are up to us.  We’re not slaves here, but friends, teammates, disciples working towards the same goals, following the same vision.  We all are here for a reason and have to discern our part.  What is that you bring to the God’s team the church?  What do you bring to the table, to be offered on this altar, to stay on this roster?  What are you doing to remain, to remain in his love?  May we who play for Christ’s team, do our part to remain in his love in spite of all the challenges of life, making the most of this opportunity that is before us so that we will not become draft busts but instead bear fruit that will last as we put into practice God’s game plan for the salvation of the world; that ultimately we all might together come to share in the glory of Christ’s victory.