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Today’s gospel brought to mind a quote from Richard Rohr in his recent book about the True Self: At some gifted moment he says “a door opens at the center of our being and we seem to fall through it into immense depths. This door needs to open only once in your lifetime and you will forever know where home base is.”

Mark’s Gospel does not try to describe home base (see John’s Gospel for this). Rather Mark is more about verbs than nouns and shows us a Person living from home base. Today’s text is a great example. What does a life lived from home base actually look like? Well, today we a picture to take with us.

A Day in the Life

Mark starts Jesus’ public ministry with a “day in the life” of Jesus. A part of this day Jesus rose very early before dawn, went to a deserted place where he prayed. The disciples did not get why this was important. But Jesus was connecting with home base. We have our first clue about living from home base – it involves chosen solitude and silence.

You see home base is not a book, it is not a church, not a creed, it is not your particular religious tribe. Home base is not accessed through a membership or a diploma. Home base is within us at the “center of our being.” Everyone has the same journey. Gratefully this is not a journey primarily about words or head knowledge. In fact those of us addicted to words are somewhat at a disadvantage!

A second clue we are living from home base is that we sense our purpose. Jesus is being pressured by his disciples to go hither and yon, but Jesus chooses otherwise saying “For this purpose I have come.” The fathomless center of our being gives us purpose that, well, centers us. We can tell when we are operating from that center. There is a calmness, a serenity regardless of the particular circumstances. Paul says this in the second reading – he can handle any circumstance because he knows home base.

But that is not all – the final clue in this text that we are operating out of home base is evidence of healing for those around us, starting with our immediate community (Peter’s household) and then on to strangers. If you were to do a study of Jesus’ healings looking for some pattern, some predictor, about how healing happens you would be frustrated. Jesus heals those with faith and those with none, those that ask and those that don’t. It seems healings just happen around Jesus with no apparent rhyme or reason and sometimes folks cannot receive it. At the center of our being is life that heals and if we operate out of home base our lives will bring healing. We will not be able to help it!

I know you have seen these clues of home base in your life and those who influence you. Nelson Mandela did not write eloquently about his inner spiritual journey, but in light of today’s text, he clearly was operating out of home base. He eventually embraced the solitude and silence imposed on him in prison. He emerged a man absolutely committed to his purpose of a peaceful, non-violent transition of power. His life became a beacon of healing for his tortured nation.

From Home Base to “the next town”

So If we follow Jesus into his typical day living from home base we would find ourselves choosing solitude and silence, we would find ourselves with a sense of purpose, we would find ourselves being a healing presence to our immediate community and finally find ourselves seeking healing for those “in the next town,” the stranger.

It is perhaps this last step that is most challenging for me this evening. Our world is so polarized and there is so much ego on both sides of every question that it feels violent to even stay informed, much less be an active advocate for the stranger!

What if we approached the justice issues of our day from the immense depths of home base seeking healing? Our immigration system with its tragedies on both sides of the border needs healing. We may disagree on details of policy, but not on the need of healing. We can debate the details of health care delivery but can we share the grief felt by millions being left outside the delivery system? We value law and order, but this strategy of mass incarceration that separates millions from a reasonable chance in life cries out for healing. Being healers for the stranger in the public arena involves the way we talk to each other, the way we seek common ground on core values that spring from home base. What if we talked to each other like doctors exploring ways to help a patient?

There are faithful people in this community that prod and exhort us about healing for these and other strangers. Join me in thanking them tonight for their healing instinct and their service to us.

So is this gospel picture of “home base in action” good news for you tonight? Do you find yourself consoled by silence and solitude? Do you feel your sense of purpose shifting in the sands of changing circumstances? Do you sense yourself bringing a healing influence to your community and to the stranger. We gather tonight to remind ourselves of the immense depths at the center of our being and resolve to see home base in action in us.

Amen

George von Stamwitz

Homily – Home Base In Action
Sts. Clare & Francis Ecumenical Catholic Community
Liturgy for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Saturday Evening, February 7, 2015
Focus text: Mark 1:29-39

Photo by Brent on flickr.com

Notes: The quote from Rohr comes from “The Immortal Diamond.” For much more on being a healing influence in the public arena check out “Healing Our Democracy” by Parker Palmer.