Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
When I was a senior in high school I was very interested in money but I also was curious about Tarot Cards and Ouija boards. I remember being on a trip to see my grandmother and my uncle. My uncle was a permanent deacon. We went to the mall for something and I saw a pack of tarot cards in the local bookstore. I mentioned that I was interested in finding out if those things really work. My father and my uncle reacted rather strongly. They told me that I should not even think about touching those things because they are tools of the devil. I told them that I didn’t think that was true because they told you the truth and the Devil told lies. My uncle said something I will never forget. He said the Devil is 95% truth; it is the other 5% that gets you. He will tell you just enough of the truth to get you hooked and then he will tell you the lie that kills you.
Well, I believed what I wanted to believe and I went back to the store an bought them. That night when I was alone in my room I took them out and used them for the first time. I asked a question regarding an investment I was looking too. I remember that what the cards said was: “Your financial future will change drastically in the near future.” I understood that to mean that it would be a successful investment because I didn’t have much to lose but had much to gain. I went to bed feeling satisfied and convinced that my Father and uncle didn’t know what they were talking about. It was between 2 -3am when my mother woke me screaming “Your Father is having a heart attack”. In the end it wasn’t a heart attack… it was a stroke that left him permanently disabled and ruined our family financially. The tarot cards were 95% correct… my financial future did change drastically… it was the other 5% that got me.
This true story that happened in my life illustrates a very important point in the scriptures today. But before I get to the scriptures for today I want to say one thing. If anyone in here owns or uses items such as tarot cards or Ouija boards, has ever owned or used them, or has allowed their children to own or use them I would like to you to seriously consider some suggestions. First, as soon as possible, you need to throwaway, destroy or burn these items. Second you need to go to confession as soon as possible and make as thorough a confession as you can. Finally you need to have me come to your home or wherever you used them and bless your home. These are not harmless forms of entertainment. They truly are tools of the devil and they open doorways through which evil spirits and demons can work in this world. These tools extend an invitation to evil and that invitation is rarely turned down.
That being said I would like to show you how this illustrates a truth in the scriptures today. I was unwilling to listen to what my father, my uncle the deacon and the church taught regarding these items. I wanted to believe what I wanted to believe. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
When we look at the gospel today we hear another parable of the sower. Christ tells us what each that he is the sower and he is sowing the seeds of truth and grace among mankind. The Devil is the enemy who sows lies and deceit among mankind. At the end of time mankind will be judged based on which seed was sown and bore fruit in their hearts and lives. The good going to eternal life and evil doers to the fiery furnace. It is important to look a bit deeper.
The Church Fathers and those who lived with the apostle knew that Christ was talking about the cockle-seed and wheat. The cockle-seed is a plant that grows among the wheat and so closely resembles it that is is hard to tell the difference between the plants until they are mature. It grows into a plant that is poisonous and potentially deadly to humans. The Church Fathers understood this seed to be a metaphor for false teachings or doctrine. They resemble the truth closely especially in the beginning. But as these false teaches grow they become more toxic and deadly. The devil speaks 95% of the truth; it is the other 5% that gets you.
From the very beginning the Devil has deceived mankind by speaking lies to us. God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree in the Garden except one because that tree was deadly to them. The Serpent came along and tried to get Eve to eat from that Tree because he hates God and his creation. The scripture says he deceived Eve by telling her the opposite of what God taught. Eve was willing to believe it because she wanted to believe it. The scripture says the fruit was pleasing to her eye. She wanted the fruit, it appealed to her, and the Devil told her just enough of the truth for her to be able to believe him. She took what she wanted. It was the other 5%, the lie, that caused all the pain and suffering in the history of mankind. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you.
The Devil has not changed his tactics to this day. He doesn’t have to because they still work as well now as they did then. God tells us we should do somethings and we shouldn’t do others. Somethings are good for us and others bring us death. The devil comes along and lies to us. He tells us that God is wrong. He makes something that is good for us appear bad and something that is bad for us appear good. He uses just enough of the truth to convince us to believe him and we do because we desire what he is offering to us. We believe what we want to believe and we do what we desire rather than believe what God says. Because the devil is so subtle we may not see the danger until it is too late. Like the cockle-seed the lies of false doctrine and teaching can grow in our hearts and we will not know until it is too late and we reap what we sow. If we do not want to be cast into the fiery furnace then we need to sow the seeds of grace and truth in our hearts. We do this by holding firmly to what has been handed on to us by God. We refuse to believe anything that contradicts the doctrine and truth God teaches us in the scriptures and the Church no matter how much we might desire something else or how convincing the argument may be. The foundation we build our lives on is the teachings of Christ that come to us through the scriptures and the Catholic Church.
Many today would like to discount church teachings on controversial topics like abortion, contraception, homosexuality, the need to confess our sins to a priest and the need to go to mass every Sunday. They desire to do things that are forbidden or to avoid things they find displeasing. The Devil uses this desire against them and tempts them to deny the Church and God by doing what they want. The Devil is 95% truth, it is the other 5% that gets you. He convinces people to deny what God teaches and he uses their desires against them convincing them to deny God.
Christ tried to protect us against this by giving to the Pope the Gift of infallibility so we could always know the truth with confidence. Christ said that he would build His Church on Peter the Rock. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. In other words if we are always with the Church and the Pope then we do not have to fear losing our souls because of false teaching. Christ then said to Peter whatever he taught as binding on earth would be bound with the full authority of heaven behind it.
Christ gave us this gift of papal infallibility so we could always be sure we were not being deceived by the Devil’s clever arguments and our disordered desires. Yet still today the Devil gets people to deny Christs authority given to the Pope. He convinces them that some teachings of the Pope we do not have to listen to. The Devil convinces them the Pope is wrong and they are right. He can do this because some people want what they want, and they believe what they want to believe so that they can get what they want. In the end though God will separate the weeds from the wheat and we will each reap what we have sown. As the scriptures say today “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” We can listen to the voice of the Catholic Church which Christ himself built on Peter the Rock or we can listen to the voice that tells us what we want to believe. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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2 Responses to “Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)”

  1. John Says:

    Father, thank you for posting this homily — it is 100% truth that we human beings, no matter our age, are like children when it comes to our faith — we are easily distracted and always need a little nudge to get back on the right path.

    Your story also reminded me of some other lessons from scripture:
    Ro 8:28 – We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

    1Co 2:9 – But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,”

    Jas 1:12 – Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.

    Jas 2:5 – Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?

    John

  2. dani MarieBernadette Says:

    Hi Father Todd, I just surfed into this site and have been enjoying my visit. As I read your Homily for July 31 about the Tarot cards it reminded me of my own folly years ago. I had always enjoyed thinking that I might somehow be a bit psychic so when I saw some Tarot cards I also bought them. I used to try reading the cards for my friends and amazed everyone with how great I was at it. Even when I thought I was just bluffing my way through the reading, others thought I was on target. Having grown up in a Catholic family I knew what I was doing was considered wrong but to me it was just harmless entertainment. After a while things in my own life started going downhill. I began to wonder if it wasn’t God’s way of telling me not to mess with the devil. So I decided to burn the cards and stop this foolishness. After my two younger children went to bed I stood over the kitchen sink and tried to light them. They would not burn. For several hours I did everything in my power to get them to burn and they just would not cooperate. I used the kind of lighter fluid used for a BBQ grill. I even tried a torch but to no avail. I finally started praying as my teenage daughter came into the room. Only then was I able to get them going. They went up with a vengence! In an instant they were completely gone. The scarey thing was that the bottom of my sink was clean. You know how it is when you burn anything… there is always residue? well there was nothing there. The cards were gone and there was not even any ash left behind. This put the fear of God into me in a way I had never known. I came to understand that these things of the occult are not just forms of entertainment( another one of satans lies) but rather they are indeed a portal for the devil and we must make a conscientious effort to protect our souls.
    I hope you have enjoyed your trip and I look forward to your safe return.
    In His Love and Her Heart…dani MarieBernadette

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