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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Psalm 40:2, 3, 4, 18 (14b)
Hebrews 12:1-4
Luke 12:49-53
August 18, 2019

Jesus’ words today may seem strange or even disheartening to us.  We are more comfortable when Jesus tells us to love our neighbor (not that we always do) than today’s words that He comes “to set the earth on fire” and that He comes not “to establish peace’ but “division.

Every time we celebrate Mass, we exchange a “sign of peace.”  We do this remembering Jesus’s words “Peace be with you.”  How are we to recognize “love your neighbor” and “peace be with you” with the division that Jesus speaks of?

 Thinking of love, our opening prayer today asks God to “fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love.”  Yet the reality is that there is real division in the world. 

Jesus’ speaks of his baptism that is to come.  His baptism by John the Baptist has already happened.  The future baptism that Jesus speaks of is his Crucifixion, his death that brings new life.  Many accepted Jesus but not all.  There was real division.

This division is not new with Jesus.  We see it with Jeremiah.  There are those who seek to put Jeremiah to death.  Their reason is that he is “demoralizing the soldiers” and “he is not interested in the welfare of our people.” 

That’s not true.  Jeremiah spoke as a prophet of the Lord to lead them to a better life.  They wanted to get rid of Jeremiah because he was telling them of their sins and need to change but they didn’t want to.

The king consents to their desire because he “could do nothing with them.”  I think the king consented just to “keep the peace.”

How often do we choose to keep silence or seemingly consent to actions we do not approve of just to keep the peace?

Am I saying that we need to be very vocal in speaking up against others’ sin and behavior?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  What we need to do is to let the Holy Spirit guide us to know what to say and when to say it that accomplishes God’s Will.  If all we do is offend others so they won’t talk to us, we can’t help lead them to Christ.   On the other hand, if we just keep silent, again, we can’t lead them to Christ.

It’s not easy.  There is division.  Sometimes it is within our own families.  It might be people whose beliefs are different than us.  How we to “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus?”

First, we need to realize we don’t need to do it alone.  I’ve mentioned relying on the Holy Spirit.  Of course, we also have Jesus who “endured the cross” and “opposition” for our sake.

We also have “so great a cloud of witnesses” for our aid.  Who are the “cloud of witnesses”?

They are the saints.  They are the ones who have gone before us and are now with God.  Some of them are martyrs who held fast to our faith “to the point of shedding blood.”  Of course, many saints are not martyrs but they strived to live good holy lives as witnesses to Jesus.  Others were not always good disciples but they opened themselves to the Lord and underwent conversion.

In the saints our churches are named after, we see a variety.  St. Lucy was a martyr.  St. Thomas Aquinas a scholar who lived his whole live in faith.  St. Patrick was born Catholic but was an atheist at the point he was kidnapped and made a slave.  It was in slavery he had his conversion experience.

You may have read in the bulletin or seen on our parish Facebook page that in September I will start a short series of presentations on the saints of our churches.  I’ll start with a general introduction about saints and the misconceptions of how we as Catholics view the saints.  Then, I will talk about each of the saints of our churches. 

For now, know that the saints serve as a “cloud of witnesses”, to be examples of what it means to follow Jesus even when it means struggles and divisions in our lives.  Know that they are interceding for us. 

The saints are important to us as examples and intercessors.  First among them is Mary.  Yet, the saints are not what is most important.  The saints are not “god.”  They are witnesses.  The saints point us to Jesus who is the one who gave his life for us.  Jesus is the one who walks with us through division, leading us to the peace of his kingdom.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Wisdom 18:6-9
Psalm 93:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22 (17b)
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Luke 12:32-48
August 11, 2019

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.” 

The Lord has chosen to make all of us his children.  As our Father, He chooses to be “our help and our shield.”  Yet, we need to realize that doesn’t mean we get what we want when we want it.

Sometimes, we have to wait for the Lord, we need to wait for the appointed time.  I don’t know about you but I know I do not like to wait.

Jesus speaks today of the hour of his Second Coming.  He speaks using a parable of the servants awaiting the master’s return.  They did not know the hour but they were expected to be ready.

We do not know the hour when the Son of Man will come but we are expected to be ready.

God called Abraham to a new land.  He did not tell Abraham where it was yet “by faith Abraham obeyed…by faith he sojourned,” letting the Lord lead him.   He was patient, knowing the Lord would provide in his own time.

The first disciples lived expected the Second Coming to happen immediately.  That was 2,000 years ago.  It hasn’t happened yet.  So, today we don’t live with any sense of urgency.  That means many people have slacked off and choose earthly pleasurers over following the Lord’s way today.  They might think they will have time to change.

Jesus is clear that the Son of Man will come “at an hour you do not expect.”  Elsewhere he speaks of how there will be earthquakes, wars, and insurrections as signs of the coming.

Do you watch the news on a regular basis?  You can watch news reports about earthquakes.  Sometimes it seems to me that there are more earthquakes happening in recent years?  Is that a sign of the Second Coming?

The news also reports on terrorist attacks, wars, and insurrections.  Is this a sign of the Second Coming?  If not, the shootings and violence still point to the rise of evil and people turning away from the Lord’s way.

What is our response to be?  It could be a response of fear.  There I turn to Jesus’ words “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.

Faith, belief in God and knowledge of his kingdom, is God’s free gift to us.  He wants us to have hope.  The first reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds how the Israelites knew when the Passover would come so they would be prepared.  Jesus speaks of the Second Coming so that we might be prepared and have hope of what is to come. 

God does not want us to live our whole lives in fear.  God wants us to have hope.  That’s why He sent Jesus.  Jesus came and died for us on the Crucifix not to install fear of our sins but to give us hope of God’s merciful forgiveness.

We need to be “ready.”  We need to keep “vigilant.”  We need to be “prepared.”

Are you scared by the news of more shootings?  Do you feel powerless to stop it?  I know people who say they don’t watch the news because it is too depressing.

What can we do to stop it?  How can we prepare ourselves?

For earthly preparation, such acts of violence should serve as a reminder that wherever we go, we should be aware of our surroundings.  If something bad is to happen, where are the exits (i.e. where can I run to for safety)?  If I can’t escape, where can I hide?  If I can’t hide, how can I defend myself?

Of course, the more ideal thing is to keep these events from happening but what can someone like me do?  If you see someone saying or doing things that might indicate they are planning an attack, report it to the police.  Last weekend you probably heard the news of the shootings in Texas and Ohio.  After that, did you hear Monday or Tuesday of the man who was arrested before he carried out an attack because his grandmother turned him because she knew something was wrong?

Thinking as Christians, we can we do?  Some of these shootings are done by people with mental health issues.  Do we advocate for better availability of help for those with mental health problems?  It isn’t just the individual’s problem.  God calls us to love our neighbor.  Thus, mental health is a societal problem.

For many in society, their decisions are always about what’s in it for them.  As Christians, we need to think about how our actions affect others.  For instance, if I use more than I need of something, does that keep others from having what they need.  Does that lead them to steal and/or acts of violence?

If I set aside selfish desires, then can I better show love and compassion for others?  Then, in turn others might turn from “hate”, choosing instead to love one another.

Of course, we can always pray.  For example, after Mass we pray the St. Michael Prayer together.  We can read in the Book of Revelation of St. Michael the Archangel leading the battle against the dragon.  We need his help and God’s grace in our battle against evil

The Christian response to “hate” is not hate.  You can’t defeat hate with more hate but love can transform the world.  Let us love others as God loves us.

You Can’t Fight Hate with Hate

We continue to see violence. This Saturday, August 3rd, there was a shooting in El Paso, Texas at a Walmart. The death toll now stands at 22 with more than two dozen injured. Law enforcement officials say the evidence points to it as a hate crime against Mexicans.

Then, during the night there was a separate shooting in Dayton, Ohio with 9 dead and numerous wounded. In this shooting the shooter is dead. However, in El Paso, Texas, the shooter is alive and in prison. The prosecuting attorneys have announced their intent to seek the death penalty.

I am both not surprised by their intent to seek the death penalty and very saddened by it. I see the death penalty as responding to hate with more hate. What good does it do?

Death penalty supporters call it justice. I see it as revenge. As long as the criminal is caught and locked in prison, what does the death penalty gain that is not achieved by life in prison?

Many may be feeling “anger“. We should be upset but we need to keep our anger in check (remember anger is another of the seven deadly sins). We should let our anger motivate us to act for changes but there is another emotion that should govern our actions, compassion, compassion for the victims. Our compassion should motivate us to work for changes in mental health diagnosis & treatment and for proper gun laws that balance the right to bear arms guaranteed in the Second Amendment with the need for public safety.

Those who support the death penalty point to Leviticus 24:20 in the Bible where it says “eye for eye” to justify their position. In looking at the Bible, we need to look at Matthew 5:38-42 where Jesus speaks against anger and Matthew 5:44 where Jesus tells us to “love your enemies.” Justice must be done but let it be God’s justice, not human revenge.

Jesus’ words above come from his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins this sermon with the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12a. There He speaks of being “poor in spirit.” That means surrendering ourselves to God’s Will. He says, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” We need to offer comfort to the victims who survive these shootings and for the families of all victims. We need to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16), motivated by our compassion to make the world better as we pray “thy kingdom come.”

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17 (95:8)
Colossians 3:1-5, 9, 11
Luke 12:13-21
August 4, 2019

We hear that “someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.

We are not told the person’s name.  The person is only identified as “someone.”  We have no idea who it is.  Many people who come to Jesus are never identified by name but they are generally identified as disciples or as a Pharisee or other title.  In this case, the person is only identified as “someone.”  They may not even have been a believer.  “Someone” could be us. 

Looking at the words of the person, note that they are not in the form of a request.  It’s worded in the form of an order.  Do you tell Jesus what to do?  Are you this “someone”?

What is their request about?  Apparently, a person has died and the speaker’s brother is keeping the inheritance to themselves.  Sadly, even today, I hear and have seen families break apart over inheritance.

Why do people fight over “inheritance”?

Sometimes it can involve sentimental reasons.  Maybe there was that special platter mom used to serve food at all the family gatherings.  In monetary terms the platter may not be worth much but it comes with memories that are priceless.  Yet, fighting with family over it would seem to miss the value of the memories of the family gatherings where it was used.

More often, divisions over inheritance are because of greed.  It might be over money itself or it might be over possessions that have significant monetary value.  If it’s about monetary or monetary value it can involve “greed” and that’s one of the seven deadly sins.

I want to note that it’s not always about “greed.”  Sometimes, we just want our fair share.  Sometimes, there’s someone in the family who has lost a job and could really use the money.  That’s need.

That’s not what Jesus is talking about when He says, “to guard against all greed” and “one’s life does not consist of possessions.”  

If we need it, it’s not greed.  The question is how much do we need compared to what we want.  Even then, are we just seeking a little enjoyment or are our wants extravagant? 

To help us realize that life is not about possessions Jesus offers the parable about this “rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.”  The harvest is so great that it won’t fit in his barns.  We assume his barns are already designed to be big enough to hold as much as he needs.  He has plenty, even for times when the harvest might not be so good.

So, what does he do?  Does he show generous by sharing the harvest with others who don’t have so much? 

No.  He is determined to keep it for himself.  So, he decides to tear down the barns and “build larger ones.”  One might suppose, he is storing up for the future.  In this sense, we talk about retirement planning and/or saving for one’s children’s college fund.  These are smart things to do but how much do you really need to save?

After all, why build up more than you need?  Ecclesiastes speaks of the person who labors greatly to build up wealth only to leave it to a stranger.  As Ecclesiastes says, “For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun.

Why do some people want so much?  Is it greed?  Again, that’s one of the seven deadly sins.  Maybe it is to make ourselves look good.  That’s “pride”, another of the seven deadly sins.

(The next two paragraphs were added Sunday morning following shootings in Texas and Ohio Saturday)

If greed and/or pride out are what motivate us, then our desires are selfish.  Yesterday morning there was a shooting in El Paso, Texas at a Walmart with at least 20 dead and several more injured.  Last night there was a shooting in Ohio with at least nine dead with more injuries.

They are just beginning the investigations so we don’t know motives yet.  So, I can’t sure what we could do to have stopped these particular shootings.  I wish I had the answers to stop shootings in general.  I don’t have specific answers but I can’t help but think that if we turn away from selfish desires, from greed and pride, and be concerned for others, things could get better.

What are we to do?  Paul calls us to “seek what is above…Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”  Does this mean we can completely forget about earthly things?  No, the reality is that we need food and a place to life. 

The point is that the possessions should not be the focal point of our lives.  How many people work hard, thinking if they get one more promotion, one more pay raise, that they will have enough.  Then, when they get that, they find they need more.  How much is enough?

The problem when we think possessions will make us happy forever is that they can’t.  Possessions are not what we are created for.  Some possessions are necessary.  Some do make earthly life more enjoyable but they can never completely fulfill us because they are not what we are created for.  We are created to know and his love.

I end with a quote from St. Augustine’s Confessions as he prayed to God, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Some Food for Thought on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

At the parish where I serve, St. Luke the Evangelist, we had a missionary preaching today. So, I did not prepare a homily this week. I did sometime reflecting on the readings and offer some thoughts for you to reflect on:

  • The gospel begins by saying, “Jesus was praying in a certain place.” How often do you pray? Do you have a “certain place” that you use to pray where you can be alone, free from interruptions and distractions?
  • Jesus speaks of persistence using the example of the man with a visitor who needs food. Are you persistent in prayer? When you persistent do you think you can change God’s mind? Some interpret Abraham’s conversation with God in the first reading as Abraham haggling with God about how many innocent people are needed to save Sodom and Gomorrah. Some might think Abraham wins in getting the number lowered. Abraham is the one who started with fifty, not God. I don’t Abraham changed God’s mind. I think God was already planning on being merciful to any innocent people, no matter how many there were. Abraham is learning, with the declining numbers, just how merciful God is. Abraham did not change God through prayer, God changed Abraham. Do you let God change you?
  • Jesus tells us, “ask and you will receive.” From this, some think that we should get whatever we ask for. Then, when they don’t, they think there is something wrong with their prayer. Have you felt this way? Jesus goes on to say, “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?” In that land, there was a snake that looked like a fish. When a person saw it, they might want it thinking it was fish and good to eat, only to find find out it was a snake, something they did not want. Do we think God will give us something that is bad for us just because we ask for it?

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

Problems with the Blog

For those who subscribe by email to this blog, you may have noticed nothing was being sent out the last couple of weeks. There were technical problems with the blog that appeared to be fixed now (the blog was completely done for the last 2 1/2 days).

For those who missed my homilies for July 7th and July 14th, here are the links:

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5 (1a)
Colossians 1:24-28
Luke 10:38-42
July 21, 2019

The words we hear from Paul to the Colossians might seem strange to us.  First, he says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings.”  Most people do everything they can to get rid of sufferings.  We might ask why anyone would “rejoice” in sufferings. 

Then Paul goes on to say that he makes up for “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.”  The first thought here might be how could anything be lacking in Christ (after all He is Son of God) and even if there is, how could any human being, let alone me make up for it.

We think of “suffering” as something bad, pure and simple.  When we face suffering, the first thing we can and should do is to pray that we be set free from the suffering if possible.  If we must suffer, we pray that God walks with us through the suffering and that we recognize there can be value in suffering.  Think of Jesus’ suffering in his Passion.  If He did not suffer for our sins, we would not be forgiven.  Pray that good comes from whatever sufferings you face.

As to what is lacking in Christ, nothing is lacking in the action of Jesus.  What more could HE do?  I emphasis “He do” because the one thing He couldn’t do is what we must do, accept the afflictions we must face, surrendering ourselves to our Father’s will.  Jesus took the sufferings for our sins upon himself but we need to surrender ourselves to God.  We have free will.  We must make the choice.

When we accept suffering in faith, we witness to our faith in God’s Will.  We are to do “justice” and “think in truth.” 

Here I turn to the story of Martha and Mary.  Martha is doing what she thinks best.  She is focused on offering hospitality for her guest.  She is doing what is expected of her in that culture.  Mary chooses to sit and listen to Jesus.

Hearing this passage, people will ask if you are like Martha or Mary.  The reality is we need to do both at different times in our lives.  There are times we are called to “do” and there are times we are called to “listen” in prayer.  The prayer can be at Mass, listening to God’s word and strengthened by the Eucharist.  It can be during Adoration, when we sit before Jesus on the altar to pray.  It can be at home or anywhere we pray.  The Lord appears to us in many places.

Again, Mass is one of the places we come to find strength from God.  At the end of Mass comes the dismissal.  It is not simply an ending.  The priest does not say, “Mass is over.  You can go now.” 

No, it is sending forth, a call to go out and live as God calls us to life, to give our whole lives to God.

We come to Mass to give praise to God.  We also come, as we prayed in the opening prayer, to be “made fervent in hope, faith, and charity.”  In all that we celebrate in Mass, we are “imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life” (prayer after Communion).

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37 (33)
Colossians 1:15-20
Luke 10:25-37
July 14, 2019

We hear the “scholar of the law” ask Jesus a question.  We are told that he asked Jesus the question “to test him.”  While the scholar’s motives may not be pure, the question is one we all want to know the answer to, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?

We are here today because we seek eternal life.  What does it take?  Jesus puts the scholar’s question back to him by asking, “What is written in the law?

The scholar responds quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, calling us to love God with “all” we have and are, and Leviticus 19:18, calling us to love our neighbor.  Jesus affirms the scholar’s response.  We are called to be loved and to love.

The scholar then asks, “And who is my neighbor?”  Physically, our neighbor is someone who lives in the house next to us or near us.  For the Jews, it would be kinsmen and other Jews.  To help us understand who really is our “neighbor”, Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Most of us have heard the story before, “a man fell feel victim to robbers” who “beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.

Who would help him?  First a priest came along.  The priest was a man of God.  He should have helped but he didn’t.  Instead, “he passed by on the opposite side.”  The Levite, also a servant of God does the same thing.

The third person is a Samaritan, who would have been despised by the Jews.  He is the one who does the right thing and stops to help the victim.

Would you have stopped and helped the victim?

Let me tell you about an experience I had while in seminary in Washington, DC.  On this particular day, I went out for my daily walk.  I had barely started walking along Michigan Avenue, when I noticed a man laying on the sidewalk.  I don’t like to stereotype but, for lack of a better description, I will say, “he looked homeless.” 

Michigan Avenue is a major thoroughfare so there is lots of traffic but no one was stopping to help.  Sadly, there are a lot of homeless in the area so people don’t pay much attention.  However, it was unusual to see a person laying in the middle of the sidewalk.

Did I stop?  I will be honest and say I didn’t.  On a positive note, I did not cross to the opposite side like the priest and the Levite.  I paused long enough to see if he looked sick or injured.  He didn’t.  I should have asked him if he was okay but I didn’t “heed the voice” within me and I kept on walking. 

The thought of him laying on the sidewalk stayed with me the whole walk, enough that I made a point to walk past the spot on my way home but he was already gone.  I hope he was okay and simply woke up and left on his own but I don’t know.  Now, whenever I hear the story of the Good Samaritan, I think of that day.

What would you have done?

Some would do nothing because they “don’t want to get involved.”  Others say they don’t have the means to help.  Part of me might have thought that with this man in DC.  I didn’t have much money and I didn’t know where to direct him to get him any help. 

We are all called to help the poor.  It might be financially but we wonder about helping the stranger on the street, what they might do with the money?  We have two options there.  First, instead of giving them money, buy them what they need so they can’t use the money for something else.  Another option if you are financially able is to give to charities.  Then, when you see some in need, direct them to a charity.

Another option if you can’t help financially, or want to do more, is to volunteer.  I’m new here but I know there are charities around like the food pantry and Catholic Charities.  We have parishioners who volunteer in prison ministry or in bringing Communion to the nursing homes and homebound just to begin to name some options.

Lastly, whether or not we are able to volunteer or to give financially, we can all pray. 

When I think of the experience I described from my seminary days, I wish I had done differently.  I feel like I went astray and ask God to keep me on the right path going forward.

We can all pray to ask the Lord to “open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters; inspire in us words and actions” that we may love God and our neighbor.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Isaiah 66:10-14c
Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20 (1)
Galatians 6:14-18
Luke 10:1-2, 17-30
July 7, 2019

Jesus sent “seventy-two others” out on a mission.  In identifying them as “others” a distinction is made from the Twelve Apostles who had already been sent out on a similar mission (the Apostles actually had more to do on their mission).

The number “twelve” for the Apostles is rooted in the Twelve tribes of Israel, the whole of Israel, but why 72?

At the time of Jesus, seventy-two was the number of all the known nations, so it symbolizes the mission to proclaim that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” is to the whole world.

Seventy-two is also the number of elders appointed by Moses to help in advising the people.

How are the Twelve and the seventy-two represented in our church today?

Today, bishops are the successors to the Twelve Apostles.  Who succeeds the seventy-two is less certain.  Some scholars say it is the priests.  Others say everyone. 

Certainly, priests have a particular role to play in offering the Sacraments but the work of the Church is not limited to just the clergy.  At Baptism we all receive the Holy Spirit and are anointed as priest, prophet, and king. 

We are all called to be willing to make sacrifices for the good of others and for our faith.  In sacrificing, we fulfill our priestly calling.  We are all called, in different ways, to share God’s Word, fulfilling our prophetic call.  We are all called to be a king like Jesus in serving others.

Is it easy?  No, especially in a culture of relativism that says we aren’t supposed to talk about our faith with others.   The same culture of relativism says we shouldn’t talk about our values and morals to others. 

If we try to share the gospel, we might face rejection, we might feel “like lambs among wolves.”  It becomes easier to keep silent outside our church walls.  Unfortunately, this means people outside the church don’t hear about Jesus and even inside the church, people really don’t understand why our faith teaches what it does.

Struggles to live out our faith can take different forms in different places and time periods but the struggle is nothing new. 

The Israelites had grown weak in their faith and turned from God.  For this, God allowed them to be defeated by their enemy, the Babylonians.  Many were taken away in exile. 

Our first reading today from Isaiah was written at the end of the Exile.  It speaks of mourning because, as they return home, they find the Temple and Jerusalem has been destroyed.

Yet the Lord tells them to “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad.”  In their mourning, the Lord promises He “will spread prosperity,” that He will “comfort” them, and that they will “flourish.”  They rejoice at God’s promise.

When you hear “prosperity,” you might think of having a big home, fancy cars, and a lot of money.  These things are neither good nor bad on their own, but it isn’t true “prosperity.”  The treasure that the Lord offers us is eternal life.

We truly “flourish” not when we are materially rich.  No, to truly flourish is receive the blessings of God.  Earthly treasures bring a short happiness.  Real faith brings eternal joy that lasts forever.

So, going back to what I said earlier about how we are all called to share the faith, what are we to do?

We are not all called to do the same thing.  I am called to preside at the Sacraments and preach.  You are not but you are called to “shout joyfully” and “sing praise.”  We are all called to speak of the tremendous things the Lord has done for us.

How do we do this in a “culture of relativism” that says we aren’t supposed to talk about our faith publicly?

We do so by being the best we can be at whatever we do.  It can start with looking at our motives from what we do. 

I used to be an engineer, specifically I worked in civil engineering on roads and bridges.  One might suggest that engineering has nothing to do with how one lives out their faith.

One might choose a profession by how much money they can make.  As an engineer, if I had gotten my professional license, I could have made a lot more money.  I didn’t because the work the licensed engineers wasn’t what I wanted to do.  I saw my job as an engineer as to provide safe roads and bridges for people to get where they needed to be.

At work, it is also an important witness to hold fast to our values, treating those around us with love and compassion.  When people see us living this way, it can be a powerful prophetic witness to them.

Our parish is called St. Luke the Evangelist.  Luke was an evangelist in writing the gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.  What do you to evangelize, to share the faith?  What do we need to do as a parish?

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11 (see 5a)
Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Luke 9:51-62
June 30, 2019

Easter ended at Pentecost three weeks ago and we returned to Ordinary Time.  However, for the last two Sundays we celebrated two special solemnities, the Most Holy Trinity and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

Today we fully return to Ordinary Time.  We pick up with the Thirteenth Sunday of Year C.  Our gospel reading today comes from the beginning of a section in Luke’s gospel known as Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.

It’s called this because Jesus literally is on a journey to Jerusalem but it is more than just a geographic journey from one town to another.  Yes, He is going to the city of Jerusalem.  That was a journey He made 2,000 years ago.

It is his journey to the Cross.

It is also a metaphor for the journey we are all on.  Coming here to worship, we are all on a journey to the heavenly city often referred to as “Jerusalem.”  We all seek the same destination for eternity.

Keeping this in mind, the story of Jesus’ journey is not a short story telling us what road He took or where He stayed.  The journey encompasses ten chapters, almost half, of Luke’s gospel.  On the journey He will continue to cure people and to teach what God’s Law really means for us.  He does this to lead us on our own journey.

We are all seeking the same destination, Heaven, but our paths can take different directions.

Jesus sets out on his journey “resolutely determined” to make it to Jerusalem in accord with God’s plan.  Are we “resolutely determined” in our journey to the heavenly Jerusalem?

What is someone opposes us on the way?  Are we like James and John who wanted “to call down fire from heaven” to destroy those did “not welcome him”?  Jesus told them not to do that.  We need to share the faith but we are not to force our faith on others.

Are we willing to follow Jesus wherever He goes?  Many think it should be simple to follow Jesus but the reality is it can be difficult.  Here Jesus says, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

What keeps us from following Jesus on the journey to Heaven?  Are we like the disciple who responded to Jesus’s call by saying, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father”?  Burying the dead was considered a work of mercy but God must always be first. 

Another disciple said, “but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”  Were they just looking for a quick goodbye that one might expect or they want a long time to take of some stuff first? 

Are you ready to answer the call in God’s time or do you expect it to happen when you want?

I see people who are just getting out of school and they want to get their careers established so they focus on that and forget about Jesus.  Then, they want to start a family and they focus on their children, which God wants us to, but not at the expense of forgetting about him. 

Then retirement comes and freedom of time but then they say, let me relax for a while and then I can think about what God might be calling me to.  There’s nothing wrong with resting in retirement but it is never okay to put Jesus at the bottom of the list. 

Sometimes we want for something spectacular to happen to know what God calls us to do.  However, it is often in the ordinary things of life that God calls us.  Elisha was plowing the fields when God called him. 

If you are a parent of young children, God is calling you to be a good Christian parent.  Made God a daily part of your family’s life.  If you are retired, God can call you to serve in the simple or extravagant.  You just need to let him lead you on the “path of life.”  

God gives us freedom to choose our path.  Do we choose the ways of the flesh, meaning letting earthly pleasures control our lives, becoming slaves to sin, or do we seek the ways of the Spirit?

Are we firm in our resolve to make the journey to Jerusalem or do we waffle?

Sometimes it can be hard to make good choices for the journey.  When we go on a journey in the car, we rely on GPS.  That stands for “global positioning system.” 

On our spiritual journey, we need a different sort of GPS, “God-positioning-system.”  It begins in regular prayer where we listen to God and letting him lead us.