Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
This week we celebrate the 23rd Sunday in ordinary time. This weekend is surrounded by days in which we have experienced the profound evil of terrorism. Most recently we experienced it in the tragic situation in Russia in which many children were killed by terrorists. Next weekend we will mark the 3rd anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. These images are very vivid in our mind and that is why I want to use an analogy of terrorism to make the point of the gospel today.
If you were captured by a terrorist and told they would cut of three parts of your body but you could choose them. Your choices were a finger, an ear, a leg or your head. They tell you that you can keep one. Which would you choose? Obviously everyone would choose their head. Why? Because some things are much more important than others. No one wants to lose a single part of their body. But if they did then there are certain parts we would rather lose than others. We keep our head because it is necessary for survival. We can lose the others and still live so we make our choice in order to survive. We choose our head.
Now this might seem like a bizarre analogy but you will see how it fits very soon. Why? Because the Devil is a terrorist. He attempts to coerce others to his position by threatening the things they love. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we hear that we are members of the body of Christ. Christ is the head, we are the members. The devil will do anything he can to separate the members of the body from the head. But he can only do this by getting us to choose to lose our head. We must choose to forsake Christ. You would think that no one would make that choice but, sadly, people make that choice every day. The devil gets them to make that choice by having them choose another member of the body, or something outside the body, over the head of the body. He tricks us into choosing someone or something over Christ.
We hear this in the Gospel today. Christ says “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Now is Christ truly commanding us to hate? No, the word probably doesn’t translate accurately. Christ wouldn’t command us to love our enemies and hate our loved ones. We are called to love all. He is speaking very strongly here though. The true meaning is that Christ needs to be our ultimate choice. We must be willing to forsake everything for him if necessary. We must be willing to give up our family, our friends, our possessions and even our life if necessary in order not to be separated from Jesus Christ.
We were created to spend eternity with God in heaven and it isn’t God’s will that a single member of the body be lost. Yet some people choose to leave. Some choose to leave because of a loved one, some because of possessions, some because they don’t want Christ to rule their lives. The devil deceives them into choosing something else as their first priority over Christ. We can choose many things over Christ: a boyfriend, a spouse, a child, a job, wealth, success, politics, friends, prestige, or even our own lives if we are threatened with suffering if we will not renounce our faith. In order to get us to do this the devil deceives us. He is the father of lies. He keeps things in secret and darkness in order to carry out his plans. He doesn’t bring things into the light because then we will see clearly. He obscures and deceives in order to get us to choose to be separated from the head.
If we desire to spend eternity with God in heaven, then we must be disciples of Christ. This requires us to forsake all things. Christ must be the ultimate choice of our life. That choice might cost us friends, it might cost us families, it might cost us comfort, it might cause us to suffer, it might cost us our life. But as the scripture says, if we want to save our lives then we must be willing to lose it.
Christ must be the first choice of our lives and the rest of our lives must be ordered around it. If someone wouldn’t begin building a tower without calculating the cost and planning why would they not calculate the cost and have a plan for their spiritual lives. The most important things require the most attention and planning in our lives. We need to have a plan for getting to heaven. Showing up on Sunday’s is not enough. We must constantly be striving to grow closer to Christ. We need to have a plan for spiritual growth. We should plan to go to church. We should plan to go to confession. We should plan to pray. We should plan to examine our lives and our consciences. We should plan to grow in virtue. We should plan on how to eliminate our vices. If not, then we go into battle against the terrorist, Satan, without our troops. We go unarmed to battle.
Our spiritual lives need to be constantly in our thoughts. The scripture says we are to pray without ceasing. If we choose to spend our time planning for other things, then we are being deceived. We must plan to protect the most important things if we want to live. That is we must plan to make sure we have a relationship with our Head: Jesus Christ. If Jesus isn’t our ultimate goal then we will choose other things ahead of him and we will suffer eternal, spiritual death. If he is our ultimate goal and we don’t spend time planning on how to reach him then we won’t. We will be easily deceived into choosing other things and we will die spiritually.
We must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ. It might cost us a lot but in the end it will cost us more if we aren’t willing to lay down our lives. In the end the choice is ours. But we will make that choice by the thousand little choices we make every day. Every choice we make is a building block of our final choice. We had better plan those choices well. If you don’t have a plan for your spiritual growth then it would be a good idea to sit down and map one out. Do not be deceived into thinking you can coast. Would you leave a choice that important up to chance? You can plan for Christ, but if you don’t then you plan to fail. That seems like too big a choice to leave to chance. In the end though, the choice is yours. Choose well.


One Response to “Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)”

  1. jas Says:

    Fr. Thanks for the blog and the homilies. Well done.

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