One brick at a time

Homily at Corpus Christi School for Years 7 & 8 at the conclusion of the Sion Community Mission

Scripture readings: I Cor 12:12-20 (one body, many members) and Matthew 16:13-20 (Who do you say that I am?)

“Who do you say that I am?” asks Jesus. I’m going to have a go at answering that. I say that Jesus is a Master Builder!

Every LEGO set is created by a Master Builder. They look at the pieces which are available and they use those to design a new creation – but not quite. No new LEGO set is complete until the Master Builder has invented, from scratch, a unique piece which no previous LEGO set contains.

Each one of you here this morning is as unique as a newly-minted LEGO set. There has never been another you before, never will be again. And each one of you is a part needed for God to complete his design for the full body of Christ on earth. But what is that design?

“Who do you say that I am?” asks Jesus. Here’s my second answer. “You are the hero who teaches us what it means to truly love other people.”

Hollywood offers us two kinds of heroes. The first kind makes the ultimate sacrifice. Think of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, or Leonardo di Caprio in Titanic. In these stories, we hold our breath, or weep as the hero pays the ultimate price for staying true to their cause, or saving their loved one.

More often the hero puts their life on the line, but at the very last minute rescue arrives through a twist in the plot. Thanks to a gifted scriptwriter, everyone is happy: the hero lives to enjoy his triumph, the audience breathes a sigh of relief, and the studio gets to cash in on a lucrative sequel. Captain America lands an enemy World War II plane in icy waters, so he can be thawed out to join Marvel’s Avengers. Princess Anna risks her life to save her sister, Elsa, in Frozen. Frodo Baggins struggles to cast the One Ring into the firey depths but is saved when Gollum snatches the ring and falls to his doom.

Jesus does both. Jesus lays down his life and lives forever! It’s only because Jesus keeps nothing back but gives his whole life on the Cross, that he fulfils the mission given to him by his Father. And this teaches us a really important lesson: if we are to become the saints which God is calling us to be, we also must lay down our lives in order to pass through the trials and  sacrifices which will make us perfect.

I haven”t seen the new LEGO movie which has just come out, but I hear there”s a lot in it about the need to work together. I have seen the  LEGO movie which came out four years ago, though! If you don’t know about that one, google The Adventures of Clutch Powers. At the start, adventurer Clutch Powers boasts that he always works alone. By the end, he realises that he can do more as part of a team – a team of builders.

Jesus invites us to be part of his team of builders. He’s already given the project a start by planting a big rock called Peter. So what kind of church do we want to build? And what kind of school do we want to build? What new pieces can we bring to the construction? Let’s not let our imagination be limited by the kind of church, the kind of school, we’ve already seen. In Rome, the successor of Peter, Pope Francis, is daring to do things differently. So can we!

All for one, and one for all!

If you see someone being bullied in school, stick up for them. If you see someone upset or in need, help them.

But don’t fall into the trap of only helping the people you like. If we did that, it would be: one for some, all for some. That’s no good. That’s ordinary, selfish human behaviour.

Jesus came to remind us that every human being matters. Without each unique human being, his design couldn’t be complete.

And without Jesus, we cannot be complete. He is the head of the body. If we are not connected to him, we are not complete.

Strangely enough, it was LEGO which helped me discover that Jesus was real, and that he wants to help us in everyday life.

I discovered that Jesus was real when I was 11 years old, a few months before I started High School. My granny had just died and I prayed the first serious prayer of my life, asking God to look after her soul. For the first time, I wanted to know whether there really was a God out there for me to connect with. And in a way very hard to put into words, I began to sense that there was. So I started praying a bit more. I had a huge plastic bathtub to hold all my pieces of LEGO. So if I wanted to make a particular model, it was really hard to find that one unique piece to finish the job. I could spend half-an-hour rummaging in the tub and not find the unique part I needed. So when I got really desperate, I would pray. “Lord, I really need to find the green antenna to finish this spaceship!” And time and time again, as soon as I prayed, I would find the piece within the next couple of minutes. Prayer worked!

 So who do YOU say Jesus is?

Just a good teacher who lived a long time ago and taught us to be kind to other people?

Or the Son of God, living in heaven, and able to answer our prayers right now?

We started this Mass by singing: If God is for us,what could ever stop us?

So what if we decided to build a community of love? Not wishy-washy soppy love. Real Christian love. The kind of love which looks like a hero or heroine doing what it takes to help others. Being the hero who follows your principles without caring what other people think of you. Being the one who cares for all, knowing that if everyone follows your lead, then all will care for one.

Don’t wait for someone else to be the first. Pope Francis didn’t wait for another Pope to live in an apartment or drive around in a battered old car. Be the one – because you are God’s unique creation, called to help people in the way only you can.  But find out the way that God wants you, personally, to help other people. One day he might ask you to work for a charity, start a family, or even become a priest or a religious sister or brother. I was helped to make the final decision to enter seminary by a Franciscan priest, who said something like this:

Don’t be afraid that God is going to ask you to make a choice which will break you. If this is your vocation, then doing what you are called to do is the one thing that will eventually make you happy. Faithfulness to God does require sacrifices, but God isn’t going to ask you to spend a lifetime of misery serving him, wishing you were something else. You know that something is your vocation because the final ‘you’ will not be an alien being, but the perfection of who you are, even if it’s a struggle to get there.

Without the Cross, Jesus couldn’t have passed to life through death. To take hold of the full life God has in store for us, we must make sacrifices. “One for all, all for one” – but NOT “what’s in it for me”.

Blessed John Paul II often invited young people not to be afraid to be the saints of the third millennium. Yes, if we are to become the saints which God is calling us to be, we will be asked to do hard things to care for others. This is heroism which Hollywood cannot match. The journey will not be easy, but the ending will be amazing – because in Jesus, the Master Builder, we have the greatest director of all!