Homily – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The readings this Sunday all speak of faith. One of the most important points that is made is that Faith is a gift of God. You see the apostles ask the Lord for the gift “Increase our faith”. They recognize that faith is a gift from God and the recognize it’s importance and they ask the Lord for more. The Lord seems to imply that most of us don’t have that much faith. If we had faith the size of a mustard seed then we could command trees and they would obey and we could move mountains. The mustard seed was known to be the smallest of seeds. The truth of the matter is that we are a people lacking in faith. The particularly sad thing of it is, that many of us, unlike the apostles don’t recognize it. Even more of us probably fail to ask God for an increase in this gift. All this and faith in Jesus Christ is an essential part of salvation.
Faith is defined in the book of Hebrews as : “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” But don’t stop there. I encourage you to read Hebrews Chapter 11 tonight to learn more about faith. It is critically important. Faith is always faith in a person. It is a trust so complete that what that person says is a realized, that is it is real to us, without ever having seen it. To have faith in Christ is to believe his words with absolute authority, so much so that what is said changes our life. It becomes our reality. It is realized in the way we live our lives without having ever seen evidence of what is said. Faith causes us to do things simply because Christ told us to. This is a gift of God and it is a gift that is essential to us if we desire to go to heaven. We must trust God completely and live our lives according to his word.
I was speaking with different people in the last few days about the change in mass times. I was asking them what they liked best, how the rotation was working etc. In the course of more than one of those conversations some disturbing things were told to me concerning modern attitudes toward mass and mass attendance. A few told me that when mass times change some people simply don’t go because they have other events that conflict with it and they choose to go to those events. I asked about Masses in other towns and they said some people won’t drive, they simply just skip it rather than go to Hague, Strasburg, Eureka, Selby or Mobridge. I have also been told that some people feel summer vacation is a vacation from Mass as well. Or that when they travel or go camping they make no effort to go to Mass. These are signs of a faith that is practically non-existent.
When I was growing up, which wasn’t very long ago, it was inconceivable that we would ever miss mass except for the most serious of reasons. We even went when we were sick unless we were severely sick. No other excuse was acceptable to my parents, no camping trips, boy scout activities, etc could ever take the place of Mass. If you couldn’t make it to mass and the activity then you simply went to Mass. Why? God commanded us to. My parents never took a command of God lightly. You shall keep holy the Sabbath. It is also a precept of the Church which means if you do not keep it you are in a state of grave sin. It is a grave sin to miss Mass on Sunday’s and Holy Days of obligation. What is a grave sin? It is one that is so serious if you commit it freely, knowing it is wrong, that if you die without confessing it, you will go to hell. If you can’t spend an hour a week with the God who created you, then you won’t want to spend eternity with him. God is not a fool. He knows our hearts better than us. That is why some people can actually tell themselves they Love God but they don’t need to go to Mass. God says keep the Sabbath Holy which meant spending it in a day of rest and worship of God in the temple. We say, I can do what I want on Sunday and go to heaven anyway. God’s word or our word? There is no choice for any person who is sane. Faith demands we trust God’s word more than our own and without faith we cannot be saved. Listen to God’s word in Hebrews 11:5 “But without faith it is impossible to please him”
There are very few reasons which we can miss mass. Only if you are gravely ill or physically unable can you miss mass. And then you should listen to it on the radio or television or at least try to read the Bible for an hour if you can. To miss mass on a Sunday or Holy day, without a permitted reason (the Church’s permission not our own), is a grave sin. Even if you are in a state of mortal sin you should go and not receive communion but get a blessing instead. If you do miss mass without a permitted reason then you should not go to communion until you have confessed and repented of the sin. To go to communion with a grave sin on our soul is another grave sin. As it says in 1 Cor. We eat and drink condemnation unto ourselves when we approach the body and blood of the Lord in an unworthy manner. Missing mass is that serious. Why Because if God gave us every breath we have, every second of every minute, every minute of every hour, every hour of every day, and every day of our life and we are not willing to spend one hour praising him as he told us too then we are really ungrateful and hard of heart and our faith is for all intents and purposes non-existent.
Why spell things out so clearly and so seriously. Because I want you to go to heaven and God tells us how it works. I trust God’s word more than I trust myself and his word clearly says we need to go to mass every Sunday. His Church, through which he speaks, says we need to go to mass every Sunday and on Holy days. That is the bare minimum. If we can’t willingly do that then we are in real trouble.
When we get to heaven we want to hear “Well done, Good and faithful servent.”. We do that by continually growing in our faith. But the very least we have to say is as the servants in the gospel “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” One thing we are obliged to do is give our Creator the respect and reverence he is due. That includes faithfully setting aside at least one hour a week on Sunday’s to worship him in the way he commanded. Do this in memory of me.
In the end though the choice is ours. Like the apostles we can ask our Lord for an increase in the gift of faith, or like the servants we can at least do the bare minimum although we are in danger of slipping further, or we can do our own thing and ignore God and the precepts of the Church. What kind of faith do you want? That is the faith you need to beg God to give you. In the end though the choice is yours. Choose well.