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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10
Psalm 131:1, 2, 3
1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13
Matthew 23:1-12
November 5, 2017

The Lord said to his priests through the prophet Malachi, “You have turned aside from the way and have caused many to falter by your instructions.”  The priests were chosen by God to help the people in their quest to follow God.  The priests were not following what God asked of them.  Even worse, they were causing others to falter.

That was in the 5th century B.C.  The same problem existed in Jesus’ day.  The scribes and the Pharisees are not doing what they are supposed to.  “They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders but they will not lift a finger to help them.” They, like their predecessors before them, are falling short of what God asks of them.

In fact, they did things just for the honor.  They looked for seats of honor where they went.  They wanted to be called by titles because of pride in their hearts.  They were more concerned about their status than helping others.

Does this mean the people should stop listening to them?  No, as Jesus said, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken seat on the chair of Moses.  Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you but do not follow their example.

One of the Pharisees was a man named Saul who would become Paul the Apostle.  At first, he rejected Jesus as a false messiah and persecuted those who follow him.  But God did not give up on him.  Paul encountered the risen Jesus and underwent a conversion.

After his conversion, he continued to serve the Lord bringing the gospel to many people but he was not like those who wanted honor for themselves.  Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well.”  Paul was not looking for status for himself.  He was not just doing a “job.”  He gave of his very self to help others know the gospel.

So, where does this leave us today?

Do we have good priests or bad priests?

Of course, I have a bias in answering this.  I like to think that most priests see their role as priests not just as a job but as a calling from God.  I like to think most priests are trying to do the right thing.  Some are more ambitious than others.  Some are closer to being all that Christ calls a priest to be.

Yet, none are perfect.  At least I know I am not perfect.  I try to do my best but I have to admit I can fall short.  Sometimes I try too hard and overwork myself.  Then I weaken or lose my connection to God.  I lose the sense of peace that God offers.

It’s that connection to God that is so important to each of us.  We come to Mass each week but is that really enough if we want to stay connected to God?  For me, it is not enough.  I need to pray more frequently.  In fact, I try to pray multiple times in a day.

You might say, “Well, Father that is good for you but we don’t have that kind of time.”  Sometimes, I don’t either.  I am going here and there, preparing for this meeting or that visit.  Honestly, even when I do pray, sometimes it is rushed and disconnected.

That’s why I try to take a retreat each year.  Just a few days ago I went on retreat at the Abbey of the Genesee.  Retreats there are silent.  You can join the monks for prayer and Mass.  The rest is quiet.  I read.  I walked, I prayed.  I get back in touch with God.

Why am I saying all this?

Well, looking at today’s readings, I want you to know I do my best to be your priest and your pastor but I am human.  I can fall short.

I don’t do this for the honor.  I don’t do it for the title.  Quite honestly, being an engineer was easier than being a priest.  Please pray that I serve you in the way that God wills and I will pray for you and do my best to serve you.


  1. Yvonne Capogrossi says:

    Father Jeff – I have been reading your Sunday Homilies. Thank you so much for sharing and being open to share. The depth of your insight aides me in my spiritual journey. I praise God for you and pray that God will continue to do many more good works through you.

  2. Fr. Jeff says:

    Thank you Yvonne. Thank you for your comment. It helps me realize there is value in what I do. I hope you are doing well and life is good. Peace, Fr. Jeff

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