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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
Psalm 54:3-,4 5, 6-8 (6b)
James 3:16-4:3
Mark 9:30-37
September 23, 2018

Once again Jesus tells his disciples about his coming Passion.  The first time Peter rebuked Jesus for what He said.  This time we are told that “they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.”

So, it seems, they basically ignored what Jesus said.  As they journey to Capernaum they argued amongst themselves about “who was the greatest.”  Clearly, they are prideful.  Remember, “pride” is one of the seven deadly sins.  As Christians, we are not called to be the “greatest.”  However, we are called to “do our best.”

Maybe these doesn’t sound that different.  As I see it, the difference lies in our motivation.  If we are trying to be the “greatest”, our goal is to make ourselves better than everyone else.

If we are trying to “do our best,” we are trying to take what God has given us and do good things with it.  Doing our best isn’t meant to be a comparison between ourselves and others.  It isn’t a competition.  To do our “best” as Christians is to open ourselves to the gifts that God has given us and use them in the way that God calls us to serve others.

Thus, our goal should not be to be “first” but “the servant of all.”  This is what we are called to be as God’s children.  This is the natural order that God has set before us.

On the other hand, as James writes, “Where jealousy and self-ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.”  Here the word “disorder” means other than as God created the world to be.

If our personal goals are based on “selfish-ambition”, we are going down the wrong path.  As James went on to write, “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?  Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?

How many wars started because of the desire of someone’s quest for power and wealth?

How often do we hold resentment within ourselves because we “covet” what we “do not possess?”  The last two Commandments speak of the ills of coveting our neighbor’s wife and property.  If we let our desire for our neighbor’s property control our actions, then our actions are not based on love but rather “greed” and “jealously.”  What good can come from that?

If we are always thinking about what we don’t have, then we are blocking ourselves from seeing the blessings that we do have.  Do you see the cup as half-full or half-empty?   Isn’t life much better when we see it as half-full so that we can live with gratitude for what we do have rather than what we don’t have?

I need to acknowledge that there are people sitting here among us that struggle to make ends meet.  Some might wonder how they are going to pay their rent, get groceries, or pay for their car insurance so they can get to work.  These are real concerns.

This makes it all the more important for those of us with enough to realize the blessings of what we have received.  When we have enough, we are called to live with an “attitude of gratitude” that gives us a desire to share our blessings with others.

What are the blessings you can share with others?

Perhaps you are blessed with a generous income, so you can donate financially to charitable works.

Perhaps you are blessed with free time, so you can volunteer to help others.

How about faith?  Do you recognize the faith that you have as a blessing?  Are you willing to share your faith with others as a blessing?

To share what we can is Christian stewardship.  It is good discipleship.  It is the way we show our love for our neighbor and our desire to love God.

All of this flows from my reflection this week on our readings from this Sunday.  It also fits with our theme for this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA).  The theme is “Sharing Our Blessings.”

The annual letter from our bishop went out this week.  There is also a video for our appeal.  The video starts with a message from Bishop Matano regarding what is going with the clergy abuse scandal and how it might affect our generosity.  The video is available on the diocesan website for the appeal and I put it on our parish Facebook page and parish website page about the CMA.

These are difficult times for our church.  While the scandal might affect one’s willingness to be generous to the church, it does not change the fact that we are called to share our blessings.

Think of those without enough food to eat, 11% of the money raised in the CMA goes to support the work of Catholic Charities in our diocese.  For other ways your contributions to the appeal are used, you can look at the poster boards near our entrances.

Our goal for the appeal this year changed by $1,300.  It went down!  Now, before you all start thinking you can contribute less this year, let me say that a couple of last year’s contributors have died or moved away.  Looking at the numbers, my best guess is that if everyone who is able gives the same amount as last year, we should meet our goal of $44,851.  There might be some who can’t give as much.  Others might have had a good year of financial blessings.  Whatever you can contribute is appreciated.

I thank you for sharing your blessings of your time, talent, and treasure.  May God always richly bless you in faith and with his love.

 

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