Mini-Homily for 28th Sunday Ordinary Time, 2012
My brothers and sisters in Christ: What is it that we are clinging to? Like the old man of Crete, like the Rich young man in our Gospel – what is keeping us from totally giving ourselves over to Christ? Is it riches, is it an old feud or fight with a sibling, is it quarrels over land or inheritance, is it divisive politics or the pursuit of pleasure?
There was an old man on the isle of Crete, and during his lifetime he loved many things. He loved his wife, his children, and his job, but most of all he loved the land. He loved the very ground he walked on, worked, and fought for. When it was time for him to die, he had his sons bring him outside his stone cottage and lay him on the earth. He reached down, grabbed a handful of Crete’s soil and was gone.
He arrived at the gate of heaven, and the Lord came out dressed in the long robes of a judge and said to him, `Old man, come in.’ As the old man moved toward the gates, the Lord noticed something in his hand and asked, `What are you clutching in your hand?’
He said, `It is Crete. I go nowhere without it.’ The Lord said, `Leave it, or you will not be allowed in.’ The old man held his clenched fist up and said, `Never!’ And he went and stood beside the outside wall of the heavenly city.
“After a week had passed, the gates opened again and the Lord appeared a second time, in the guise of a man wearing a hat, looking like some of the old man’s buddies down in Crete. He sat down next to the old man, threw His arm around his shoulder and said, `My friend, dust belongs to the wind. Drop that piece of earth and come inside.’ But the old man was still adamant, `Never!’
During the third week the old man looked down at the dirt he was clutching and saw that it had begun to cake and crumble. All the moisture of the earth had gone out of it. Also, his fingers were arthritic and could hardly hold it. The earth began to trickle through his fingers. Out came the Lord, this time as a small child. He came up to the old man and sat next to him and said, `Grandfather, the gates only open for those with open hands.’ The old man thought about this, finally stood up, and did not even look down as the crumbled dirt of Crete fell out of his hand. The child took his hand and led him toward the glorious gates. As the gates swung open, he walked in. Inside was his homeland, inside was all of Crete.
In this year of Faith – do not be afraid to let go of this, do not be afraid to cling rather to Christ and be led where he’d like us to go. Our Gospel is about an invitation to enter into a deeper relationship with our Lord. For like that man from Crete, like all the Saints, when we do, He takes nothing good away from us and gives us everlasting life.