Homily – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Homily – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Our readings to day speak to us of the virtue of hope. The Catechism tells us that Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness. It allows us to place our trust in Christ’s promises and rely not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. The virtue of hope responds to the desire for happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man. It purifies men’s earthy hopes and activities and directs them to the Kingdom of heaven. It keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal happiness. Strenthened by hope, the Christian is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from true love. Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which we hear about in the second reading today. That hope begins in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice. “Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations.”
Christian hope is taught to us from the beginning of Jesus’ preaching in the Sermon on the Mount. The beatitudes, the blessings, lead our hope toward its goal of heaven as the new Promised Land. They show us the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. Because Christ died for our sins on the cross God can place in us a “hope that does not disappoint.” “Hope is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . ” where Jesus has gone ahead of us on our behalf. Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation against the devil who desires us to lose hope and doubt God. The scriptures tell us: “Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”It affords us joy even under trial: “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation.” Hope is expressed and strengthened in prayer. This is especially true in the Our Father. It is the prayer that is the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire. We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven. This is God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.” She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven.
This great virtue of hope is a God given gift that we receive in baptsim. Like all the gifts we are given by God we are expected to use them and increase them for his Glory. Yet also like any God given gift the Devil seeks to pervert it and distort it to lead us away from God. Hope is no different. The virtue of Hope can be perverted in two ways to become the sins of Despair and Presumption.
Despair causes man to cease to hope for his personal salvation from God. It can cause him to believe that he is beyond help the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness. God made us for heaven. It is contrary to his to his justice – for the Lord is faithful to his promises. And it is contrary to his Mercy to say that he wouldn’t forgive somone who was truly repentant that had turned away from their sin and toward God.
We should have a firm hope that if we love God by keeping his commandments that we will go to heaven. We do not rely on our own strength but we rely on God’s strength and mercy. With his grace we can live holy lives that will lead us to the gates of Heaven.
Today presumption is the more common of the sins against hope. There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit). The second of these afllicts many Christians and a rapidly increasing number of Catholics.
We see this in the example of the first reading and the Gospel. In the first reading we see those people who call upon God when times are tough but quickly forget him when things go well. They will beg God to save them if they are in financial difficulties and even be angry with him if he doesn’t respond. Yet when they prosper they are cheap with God. They expect God and the Church to beg them for money and they will only give it if they can control it. They come up with all sorts of excuses as to why they are holding back their tithe. In reality they have hard hearts that love money. They do not love God but instead try to use him.
In the Gospel we see the Pharisees who are critical of Jesus for eating with Sinners. They see themselves as righteous because outwardly they appear to the world to be good people. But Christ sees hearts that are blackened with the sin of pride and presumption. The pharisees are quick to point out the fault of others and to excuse themselves.
The second kind of presumption occurs today whe people assume that they will go to heaven and make no effort to convert their lives to ways of holiness. For them they believe that Hell doesn’t exist and they can’t go there. They live a life of cheap grace that expects God to reward them for doing the bare minimum. Good works are important. We must be people of integrity who are doers of the word not just hearers of the word. But works are not what gets us to heaven. God cannot be bought. What gets us to Heaven is a faithful heart deeply in love with Jesus Christ. Those deeply in love with another seek to please their beloved. They do not seek to do the bare minimum to keep their beloved happy. That is not love. That is presumption that seeks to use another person. It is a love of self and a mockery of God. God will not be mocked.
God plants within us the seeds of our Salvation at baptism. We are to nurture and care for those seeds so they will grown into a healthy tree of faith. If the tree is heatlhy it’s fruit will be clearly seen in our life of conversion. Holiness is the fruit of a living faith. Yet as the scripture says if the tree does not bear good fruit it will be cut down and cast into the fire.
We should have a firm and lively hope that God will give us everything we need to live lives of holiness. But if we refuse to use the gifts and graces he gives us and our lives do not bear the fruit of holiness then we cannot presume that God will allow us to mock him. He desires, deserves, and demands or hearts to be truly and authentically in love with him. He will not accept a cheap substitute. We know that God loves us completely. It is our firm and lively Hope that he gives us what we need to respond in love to him. The question we need to answer is will we accept what he offers us and will we use it to offer ourselves back to him? It is my hope that you will. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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One Response to “Homily – Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)”

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