Homily – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
I am a pickup man. I won’t say whether I am a Ford, Chevy, or Dodge man because I wouldn’t want to alienate anyone for the rest of the homily. I love pickup’s. The only reason I don’t drive one is that I know that Texans, Pickups and snow don’t mix very well. But I have hopes of one day learning to drive one even in the snow so I can return to the trucks I love.
One thing I always joke about when I talk about owning trucks is that you never have a shortage of friends. While I owned my truck I would often get calls from “friends” to use it to move things. The phone would ring and it would be someone I hadn’t heard from in quite a while. After the obligatory chit chat I would hear the often repeated phrase “So were moving this weekend…” or “we just bought a ” do you think we can borrow your truck. Often times, being that I am a big guy they would extend the invitation to me to help them move as well.
Now I never once refused to help out my “friends” if I could help them. But I often did wonder about some of them. The only time I did hear from them seemed to be when something needed to be moved or they were in need of a truck. But one thing for sure is…. If you own a truck, you don’t have to wait terribly long periods of time for the phone to ring.
I think sometimes people treat God like he is a truck owner. They call him when they need him and not too many other times. Invariably he gets the prayer call, so God, how’s it going, I really need to talk to you more often but things get so busy, by the way can I get you to help me with ___________. Prayer time isn’t the priority it should be for us and we end up being poor “friends” to God. Our relationship is one of convenience rather than one of love. You know love right? Remember the first time you fell in love. You couldn’t wait to see your beloved, you would talk with them hours on end, you couldn’t wait to read that love letter that you saved and read over and over again, you would do anything to see them and it was agony if you couldn’t. Now granted that isn’t a mature love but you remember the feelings.
But mature love isn’t what many couples now a days experience either, long periods of no talking, being with the person is a burden or a nag, the spark has dimmed to a barely discernable glow. That isn’t love either.
I have had the privilege of seeing mature love in couples and it is pretty spectacular. It is what I would have hoped for if God had called me to marriage. A couple that enjoys being with each other, spending time in their presence. They still delight at their quiet times together. They too saved their love letters and still read them. It is a sacrificial love that has caused them to die to their own selfish desires for their beloved. I hope you have seen it as well. That is what we need to be shooting for in our relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Our readings today exhort us to perseverance in prayer and faithfulness in our relationship with God. The first reading clearly shows that we need God’s help to win the spiritual battle we fight on this earth. It also shows we need our friends and loved ones to help us, encourage us, and support us in staying faithful to our relationship with God. Our help is in the name of the Lord as the responsorial psalm is. But if our relationship isn’t more then we are simply using God for his truck or what he can give us.
Our second reading exhorts us to fidelity and faithfulness to God and especially faithfulness to the scriptures. I think one of the most terrible pains a person could experience is the infidelity of their spouse. I can’t imagine going through that and, as a priest, I have seen the terrible hurt it can cause. By virtue of our baptism we members of the Church, and the Church is the bride of Christ. How faithful are we to our Bridegroom Jesus Christ? What kind of marriage do we have with our spouse? Is it one that burns quickly only to fade to tediousness like the examples I mentioned above? Or is it one that is spectacular, where we love to spend time with our spouse, where sacrifice our own selfish desires for the betterment of the relationship and our beloved, where we still take delight in reading the love letters written to us long ago?
Our spouse is Jesus Christ and we are married to him by virtue of our baptism and that will never change. Only the way we view the marriage will change. Many people today have the mistaken notion that they will go to heaven no matter what because God will forgive them for anything, any infidelity they commit against their bridegroom. That is a serious error. If a priest or Catechism teacher ever taught you all people go to heaven they are wrong and I am sorry. Some people will go to hell. Why? Not because God stops loving them, but, because they stop loving God. Their marriage becomes tedious, nagging. They don’t like to spend time with their spouse Jesus Christ. Church becomes a burden. Being faithful to the Church becomes a burden, we want to do what we want and when we want it and our spouse doesn’t have any say. Prayer becomes a burden only to be used when we need something. Or we are constantly unfaithful to our bridegroom by sinning and never saying were sorry. No one would want to be stuck in that kind of marriage with that kind of spouse. And some of us ask for a divorce and those are the ones that go to hell. They think not being married looks better and they choose what C.S. Lewis called the great divorce. I encourage you to read that book if you never have.
We need to nurture our relationship with God daily through prayer and the reading of scripture. God wrote us many love letters long ago that still have relevance in our life. The second reading tells us they are useful for many things but we need them to be competent and equipped for good works. Not just anyone but one who belongs to God needs them. How many people in here have read the Bible? How many at least could honestly say they read the whole New Testament. If you haven’t then I would ask what are you waiting for? Is it too tedious? Do you not want to see what God wrote to you? Do you only listen to your spouse when you have to at Mass on Sunday’s? When is the last time you actually opened the Bible and read from it? Do you have one in your house? Do you know where it is? Does it have dust on it? Or is the does the spine barely have a crease in it? The Catholic Church teaches that Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. You can’t love say you have a good marriage if you are ignorant of Christ. If you never speak to him. If you aren’t faithful to him and if you don’t read the letters that he died, literally died, to give you.
Prayer and scripture are the way we develop a solid, spectacular, love relationship with Christ. One thing I have learned as a priest, is that you really need to fight for them and as the second reading say be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Something will always come up that seems more immediate. But no thing will come up in your life that is more important. If we neglect reading scripture on our
In the end we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and our “marriage to him will be judged”. Some will seek a divorce. If you don’t love God here you won’t love him when you die. If you find the things of God a burden here then you won’t change your mind when you die. We need to love Christ here and now. We need to love spending time with him in prayer and reading God’s word. We need to fight for those times whether convenient or inconvenient. We need to sacrifice our own selfish desires for the betterment of the relationship. We need to do these things daily if we want to have a successful marriage to our bridegroom.
The good news is our bridegroom is always faithful to us and will forgive us if we choose to be faithful to the marriage. He will not abandon the marriage or seek to divorce us. No matter what has happened in the past we can always choose to be faithful. We can fall in love again. But we need to work at the marriage every single day if we want it to last. If we do not then it will end in divorce. What we choose now, every day of our lives, is what we will choose on our judgment day. A good marriage or a Divorce from our spouse. The choice is yours. Choose well.
Archive for October, 2004
Homily – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
I just voted a straight ticket….. straight pro-life. What other vote is the for a Catholic?
One of my youth dressed up to play St. Anthony in a presentation for All Saints day. I asked him if he was going to cut his hair. Low and behold he did and it looked awesome. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it but it was way cool.
I told him he should wear it to school tomorrow. He was a bit hesitant. I told him if St. Anthony appears to you in a dream to night then you should do it. He agreed. I talked with his mom and she said he was getting it cut tonight. But he agreed that if St. Anthony did appear he would do it in the future.
Pray, pray, pray. Not because he would probably start a trend in the little town; not because he would look cool doing it; …………….
Pray he appears because it will really cement home for this young man the reality of Saints and of God. His patron saint is St. Anthony of Padua.
I will put the last two homilies up soon. It has been a busy couple of weeks. I should probably have them up tomorrow. I have a ton of work to do. Confirmation this weekend. Adoration on election day… Getting ready for a Bishop’s ordination etc.
Yesterday I participated in the South Dakota tradition of pheasant hunting. I actually just walked the fields and posted/blocked but it was a good time.
On Sunday after Mass I was invited by the sons of a parishioner to go. I was worried it would sound like I was putting them off because I couldn’t go until Tuesday. I was busy all day Sunday and Monday with confirmation interviews, a wake and a funeral. But luckily for me they were in town til Tuesday and I was able to go.
Hanging out with them really made me miss my brothers and my sister. The banter was very similar to when we get together. But we had a good time and a great meal afterwards.
I am pleased to say my sister passed her oral boards. She is now officially and Orthopedic Surgeon.
We are having 40 hours at the Cathedral to kick off the Year of the Eucharist. I am very disappointed distance prevents me from going.
I will be teaching the kids tonight on Church Authority which should be interesting.
Were getting new doors on one of the churches and they look great. I am hoping they save us on our heating costs which are astronomical with the fuel prices.
According to this it seems John Kerry might be excommunicated. Was an altar boy….. was a catholic.
A 64oz plastic cup from the convenience store and 26oz can of soup (add one can of water = 52oz), gives the expression Cup O Soup a whole new meaning.
I love to eat Soup from a Plastic cup. It is easily washed and you don’t have to wash a spoon (I don’t have a dishwasher).
You have to be careful when eating the Chunky Soups though. When you get close to the bottom you need to tilt very slowly, otherwise the delicate gravity/inertia balance will be upset for the glop at the bottom, and then you need to wash clothes. (I do have a washing machine though).
Homily – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
The readings for the last few weeks have been speaking about faith. Saving faith as we see in the Gospel is more than merely believing in something. 10 of the lepers in the Gospel believed that Christ could heal them. Only one returned glorifying God and thanking him. And it was to that one that Jesus says your faith has saved you. A saving faith is one which causes us to respond to the person of Jesus Christ. It is one that causes us to return to him again and again in thanksgiving and praise. It is not merely coming to Mass on Sunday and punching the clock to guarantee you a spot in heaven. Faith is more than that.
True faith is faith in a person. I have mentioned this over and over again. It is faith in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the biggest differences between Protestants and Catholics centers around how we are saved. Protestants believe that we are saved by faith alone. That is what Luther called sola fide. Catholics believe it is more complex that that. We believe that a saving faith is one that transforms ones life completely. Like the lepers today in the Gospel 10 had faith Jesus could heal them but it only changed one of their lives. That was the one that was saved. We know that true faith in our life must bear fruit in our lives. The tree is our faith, the fruit is our works. You will know a tree by its fruit. Even in Paul’s Letter to James it says faith without works is dead. Even the demons believe that Christ is the son of God. They recognized it before the apostles did. But it couldn’t save them. Why? Intellectual belief is not enough. You can’t just agree that Jesus is the Son of God and expect that to get you to heaven. If we just go to Jesus for the things we want or so we can get to heaven then we are like the 9 lepers in the gospel. We are merely looking to get something we want. That is an ungrateful heart. A truly grateful heart is one that changes our lives and the way we live. It is one that acknowledge God as Lord and transforms our lives. It is one that makes us return to him glorifying him for the work he has done in our lives. It is one that makes us fall on our knees in gratitude. Not just on Sunday’s when everybody else kneels. It is a gratitude that moves our hearts during the week to praise God and thank him for the good in our lives. It is a gratitude that shows itself when we are faced with suffering. We thank God for what he has done in our lives and we thank him for even the things that cause us pain because our faith tells us that even in those moments that hurt so badly, God’s hand is moving. He will not give us anything we can’t bear. That is his promise. We thank God for the grace he gives us go get through it.
Gratitude is the one response that is appropriate in all things. Scripture says: In all things give thanks. But how many people are truly grateful? I would say the Gospel example is pretty reflective as well as the collection plate on Sunday’s in most Church’s. We give God what is left over. I heard just this week about a parish that was complaining because they have a priest from India and he has an accent. They aren’t thankful that a priest left his country, his family, his friends and came thousands of miles so they could have a priest in their parish. They complained about his accent. That is a sure sign of a selfish and ungrateful heart. I could give you many examples but I don’t think I have to point them out. You read Galatians Chapter 5 and you will see the war between the flesh and the spirit. You know the people who complain about petty things, gossip when don’t like something, and are critical and negative most of the time. That is a sure sign of an ungrateful heart. It is not a heart that embraces the person of Jesus Christ. It is one that seeks to get what they want from religion rather than praising God for what they have been given.
Ingratitude is at the heart of every sin. Lucifer was ungrateful that he wasn’t God and he rebelled and became consumed by hate. Adam and Eve were given the Garden of Eden and could eat from any tree except one. Were they thankful for what they had been given? No, they allowed Satan to speak his lies in their heart; Not gratitude for all they had been given but rather they focused on the one thing that they were not. And their ingratitude led them to rebel. How dare God say I can’t do that. And they reached out and took it and all hell broke loose.
We are not so very different. For all we have been given, that vast majority of us spend little time in prayers of thanksgiving and most of our time complaining. We are not thankful for what we have been given but angry about what we don’t have. How can I say this? Because all of us are sinners. At the heart of every sin is an ungrateful heart. Conversely a heart full of gratitude has little room for rebellion. If we were to spend more time in thanksgiving and less time complaining we would be a lot better off. Most of us look to Christ for what he can give us. That is not love. That is using someone. Love looks to what it can give to the other. Christ has to be someone we truly love. Someone we need to seek out daily. Someone we ache to see daily. Someone we cannot live without. Someone we are thankful to spend time with. If he isn’t then we deny him like the lepers did. We seek to use him and not love him. The consequences of that are clear. But if we deny him he will deny us. A saving faith in Jesus Christ is one that transforms our life, makes us return to him on our knees, glorifying and praising him for what he has done. Well, Father, he didn’t save me from leprosy. No what he did was far greater. He saved you from eternal death if you are willing to allow him to change your life. Listen to Isaiah 53:
Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, A grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood.
(But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.
By his stripes we were healed. The question left for each of us is what kind of leper are we? Are we with the 9 that walk away? Or are we the one who fall on our knees in gratitude and change our lives?