June 9, 2017
Each year, we celebrate Mass to begin summer school. We generally have 120+ freshmen participate in summer Health class. We offer Mass as a way of emphasizing that we need to be not only physically healthy, but spiritually healthy as well.
The following is the homily I delivered on the special readings chosen for the Mass:
As you begin summer school, you may be asking yourself, “What am I doing at church? What does going to Mass have to do with Health class?”
Your teachers requested that we have Mass to start off summer school. They wanted to emphasize to you that there is more to health than just the physical. Mental heath and spiritual health are equally important.
It’s been many years since I have taken a health class, but it seems to me that healthy living really focuses on two things: maintaining balance and being prepared.
Example: Calories are good.
They supply fuel for the body and give us the necessary energy to get through the day. Taking in too many calories is not good. We gain weight and get lethargic. We actually lose energy.
Not getting enough calories is not good either. Your body needs to burn something. Once it has burned off the available calories, it will turn to muscle tissue or have to start shutting down organs to adjust.
It is about balance – you take in this much and burn off this much.
Another example: We need balance in our daily lives.
If someone spends all of their time at work, he may be successful in his jobs and may even be wealthy, but they will not be living a healthy life. A workaholic misses out on family time, eats unhealthy food “on the go”, and takes no time for relaxation or exercise or prayer. His life is out of balance. He is unhealthy.
Healthy living is about being in balance. It is also about being prepared.
If I know I am going to be out in the sun, the healthy thing for me is to wear a hat, put on sunscreen, or both. Bald people like me need to be prepared.
If I know a final exam is coming up at the end of the week, the best course of action is not to wait until the night before to cram for the test – drinking energy drinks and staying up until 3:00 in the morning is unhealthy.
The healthier choice would be to study in chunks over the course of the week, and to get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast prior to the exam. You know the challenge ahead, so you prepare for it.
The same holds true for our spiritual health, our faith. We need to live a balanced life that includes faith. By spending time in prayer or attending Mass, we take the focus off of ourselves, at least for a short time.
It allows us to express gratitude for all of our blessings. It may even allow us to express our fear or sadness, which can be cleansing and healthy as well. It provides a healthy balance for all that we have packed into our days, and gives us a few minutes of solitude if praying alone or of community when coming to Mass.
Our faith can help keep us in balance. Having a strong faith life helps us be prepared for all that the world has to throw at us.
In today’s first reading, we heard: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
God is present to us. He is accessible. He wants us to come to Him. He wants a relationship with us. Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
There are spiritual challenges all around us, and temptation calls out to us regularly. We know that. We see it every day. Armed with this knowledge, we need to be prepared. We need a healthy faith life.
Prayer provides us with the balance we need. Time spent with God, who seeks a relationship with us, gives us rest and prepares us for what we face each day.
We keep our bodies strong through exercise. I challenge you to exercise your faith as well.