26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Numbers 11:25-29
Psalm 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14 (9a)
James 5:1-6
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Jesus’ words today may seem shocking.  “If you hand causes you to sin, cut it off…And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off…And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.

Really, does Jesus really want us to cutoff our appendages?

We are to be determined in dealing with our sins.  However, we need to pay careful attention to Jesus’ specific words.  He tells us to cutoff our hands and feet, to pluck out our eye if they cause us to sin.

Does your hand cause you to sin?  Does your foot?  Does your eye cause you to sin?

We may use our hand in committing a sin like stealing.  We may use our feet in committing a sin but neither the hand nor the foot cause us to sin.  Neither does our eye cause us to sin.  We may see something with our eyes that leads us to sin but the eye itself does not.

What we do need to remove is the sin that is in our hearts.  If we want to move forward in faith, we need to have our sins removed.  Thankfully, God gives us the means to do this in giving us the Sacrament of Reconciliation to confess our sins and receive his forgiveness.

God stands eager to forgive us of our past sins.  God is also eager to help us avoid sin in the future.  In praying an Act of Contrition, we say, “I firmly intend, with your help…to sin no more.”  Sin is a powerful foe.  We cannot defeat it on our own.  We don’t have to.  The Lord is eager to help us with his grace as we seek to move forward in faith.

One of the sins we might struggle with is “greed.”  We want more things but what good are these things beyond our basic needs.  James says, “Your wealth has rooted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded.”  As we look forward, we need to focus on what is truly important, the things of Heaven.

We seek to follow the precepts of the Lord that give joy to our heart.  Our lives are better when we follow Jesus as “the way and the truth and the life.

To do so, we need to learn more about the Lord and what it means to follow him.  I pray the homilies the deacons and I offer help you.  I hope you do some spiritual reading on your own.  We offer faith formation for our children and youth.  We also offer it for our adults.

In updating you last week about our COVID precautions, I spoke of how we seek to move forward in faith as the Coronavirus continues to be a challenge.

It’s that time of year when our diocese begins its annual Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA).  The contributions received in the appeal make up over half of the diocesan budget.  Yet, one might wonder what our diocese does with the money.

10% goes to support the ministries of the bishops of the United States and the Vatican, starting right here in New York State.  We must remember we are not just St. Benedict’s and St. Mary’s of the Lake.  We are part of a diocese and a church beyond our diocese.

In our first reading we hear how the Lord took “some of the spirit that was on Moses” and bestowed it on the “seventy elders.”  Moses did not have to do all the work himself.  In the way our Catholic Church is structure, the diocese is the “local church.”  The bishop stands at the center as our shepherd.  To fulfill all that is asked of the bishop, priests (and deacons) are appointed to help him.  The priests then lead the parishes.  However, we are not to minister just as isolated parishes.  We do so as part of our diocese.  The CMA is one way of supporting our diocese.  (Another way is that we should always pray for the work of our diocese).

Another 10% of the funds support Catholic Charities throughout our diocese.  7% supports the education of our seminarians, deacons, and pastoral leaders.  People used to have to pay for annulments.  There are no more fees (the cost being covered by the CMA).

One of the ways the diocese helps us in our operations is through IT support.  We pay for any equipment we need but the diocese does the work of setting it up and maintaining it.  When we have problems, we call them for help.  We never pay for their help.  The CMA funds their salaries.

During COVID, the IT provided extra support in finding new ways to ministry to people via the Internet.  One of the ways our parishes benefited (and continue to) is the diocese pays for the Zoom account we use to minister and have meetings.  This includes the webinars I will be offering this fall.

We have dealt with much in the past year.  Now, as we look to the future, the theme for this year’s CMA is “Forward in Faith.”  Just as we look forward in how we offer our faith formation activities and look for ways to bring people back to church, so too does the diocese.

I hope what I have said helps you understand the importance of the CMA in the life of our diocese. 

Still, you might wonder about the amount of the goal.  First, let me say our diocese has not changed the diocesan wide goal since 2018.  From the diocesan goal, the goals for individual parishes are determined using a formula considering attendance, annual collections, and government data on local median incomes.

This year, St. Benedict’s goal is up just a few hundred dollars, still far less than what was raised last year.

St. Mary’s goal is actually down from $39,599 to $36,848 ($2,750).  However, before you rush to give less money, I need to let you know that our biggest donor moved away.  So, if everyone else gives the same as last year, we would be short about $2,000.  So, if you are able, please consider increasing your contributions.

You should be receiving a letter from Bishop Matano starting this year’s campaign.  Please prayerfully consider what you can contribute this year.  Give in accord in your means and know that I pray for you.  Please pray for me and for our diocese.

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