Homily Ė 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

This week the community of Herreid, SD and the parish of St. Michael endured a terrible tragedy with the deaths of two of their members. Both men were young and many questions are raised in many hearts. Some ask how could God take them? How can they go so young? How could God let something like this happen? Let me be very clear. I donít think God did take them from us. God never intended for death to enter the world. Death entered the world through original sin and that was our choice, not Godís.
As people of faith, we should look to Godís words for consolation and to hear him speaking to us. This week I was struck by Godís word speaking to our community. Last week we heard of the necessity to be rich in the matters of God. We do not know what the future holds. The Gospel said: ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ When I prayed about this last week I felt like I was supposed to emphasize this because most people put off the things of God. I quoted this passage in my homily and said: The choices you make today are what matter the most because there might not be a choice tomorrow. Godís words in the Gospel could be addressed to you. Little did we know.
This week we see a similar message in our Gospel: ďYou also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” The reality of these passages is quite clear to all of us. We do not know the day, we do not know the hour, so we must be prepared. We must be faithful stewards for our Master. That means we must be rich in the things of God rather than the things of this earth.
I am convinced that God is reaching out and attempting to speak directly to hearts in our community. I have seen enough miracles in my life and as a priest to recognize the hand of God when it moves so powerfully. The question is: Will we listen? We can only do so if we put our trust in God and are open to his message.
Some might be angry, thinking God reached out and caused deaths in order to make a point. I think that if you hear that voice in your heart you should recognize that it is not Godís. What I think happened is just he opposite. I think from all eternity God looked out across time and saw this would happen. Then, out of his great love for us, he reached out from eternity and directed the Church to put these readings on these Sundays. And he did so to show us he hasnít abandoned us, just the opposite, he is always calling for us to return to him. In order to do that we must put our Faith in Godís goodness and his word.
Faith is clearly defined in the second reading. It is the realization of what is hoped for but evidence of things not seen. When we have faith we donít see. We take things on the word of the one who said them. Abraham struck out, not knowing where he was to go. His faith led him to the promised land. Yet he was only able to go because he thought the one who made the promise was trustworthy. The one who made that promise was God. He put his faith in God rather than what his eyes told him. He did not require an explanation because he trusted God more than he trusted his own eyes or his own understanding. That result was that faith became life giving for him and thousands after him. If we put our trust in God more than we do in our own eyes and our own understanding, then our faith also can be life giving.
But to do so requires that we recognize that this world is not our home. Clearly in the second reading it speaks of the people of faith that desire a better homeland, and that is a ďheavenly oneĒ. This world is not our home and even our lives are not our own. They were purchased at a great price with the cross. We have an eternal destination and this world is passing. We are merely pilgrims passing through on a journey. If we put the things of this world first and are not good stewards of what God has given us then we cannot arrive at our intended destination. We choose a destination other than what God wants for us. To reach our heavenly home requires that we put our faith in God in everything we do and that we become rich in what matters to God. As our Gospel today says: ďSell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.Ē
It has been a tough week for the community in Herreid, and next week will be as well. I would ask you to pray for the Brandner and Bechtold families that they may have the life giving faith that allows them to put their trust in Godís love for them. That they might see that God did not reach out to cause them pain but is reaching out to console them.
We all need to examine our relationship with God. I do believe God is moving powerfully in this time of tragedy. I believe he is calling to hearts in this congregation today. He is calling us to return to him. He is calling us to examine our lives. What matters most to us? Where is our treasure? He is calling us to store up for ourselves treasure in heaven and to be rich in what matters to God. In short, he is calling us to conversion; to surrender our hearts to him; to repent, to confess our sins and to put God first in our lives. And I say to you what I said last week: The choices you make today are what matter the most because there might not be a choice tomorrow. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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