Homily – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4
2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Luke 17:5-10
October 4, 2013

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

The apostles had faith but they knew their faith was not as strong as it should be.  How many of us feel the same way?  We have some faith.  We come to church yet we struggle to really live our faith.  It makes us realize our faith is not perfect.  We need God to increase our faith.

Paul writes to Timothy to remind him to stir into flame the gift of God.  God has given us the gift of faith.  We must keep alive the flame of faith in our hearts.

How do we do this?

Well, coming here each Sunday is a key part of our faith.  First, we must realize that our celebration of Mass is meant to give God praise for the blessings that he has already give us and to trust that God will continue to bless us.

As we give God praise, we can also continue to have our faith increased in the words from scripture we share and from the strength we receive in the Eucharist.

As we celebrate Mass to give God praise, we need to reflect on what it is we do at Mass.  It should not be a matter of just knowing what we do at Mass but to think about what it signifies.

Our Catholic Church has a saying in Latin, lex orandi, lex credendi.  Essentially we can translate it as the way we pray signifies what we believe.

Certainly the words we say as Mass signify what we believe.  The Creed summarizes our core belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The Eucharistic Prayer professes our faith in the real presence, how God transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.  The Lord’s Prayer signifies our trust in God’s will while needing our daily bread to fulfill God’s Will.

However, it isn’t just about the words we use when we pray.  We have images in our church that signify our faith, our belief in the saints and our belief in Mary.  We have not just a cross but Crucifixes to remind that Jesus actually hung on the Cross for us.

We also have our postures at Mass.  We stand as our procession begins signifying the entry of Jesus as our King into our hearts.  We sit to be attentive to the readings but we stand for the Gospel recognizing it contains Jesus’ own words.  We kneel in humbleness.

I suspect most of us are aware that we haven’t stood at the same times as other parishes.  I noticed when I arrived.  Remember ten years ago now when we implemented the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal.  It meant change.  The changes were meant to help us better express our faith just like the new translations.

Some of the changes got interpreted differently in different places.  For instance, we have been standing at the Offertory after I say, “pray my brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.”  That is a reasonable interpretation of the way it is worded in the General Instruction but since then we have learned that it is meant that we stand immediately when I begin, pray my brothers.  That’s what we are going to start today.  It isn’t a huge change but part of what is intended that we are one Catholic Church and we should have uniformity in our posture and actions.

With uniformity in mind, we will continue to stand after the Lamb of God because that is for the bishop to decide and Bishop Clark decreed that across our diocese we will stand.  However, after we receive Communion we will go back to kneeling in the pews, signifying our humility in receiving the Lord in the Eucharist.

You probably heard in the announcements or read in the bulletin the last couple of weeks that we just retrained our Altar Servers.  This is part of these same changes.  The wine will be in the cups before the consecration as an expression of reverence that we believe in the real presence and want to handle the Precious Blood reverently.  We don’t want to spill the Precious Blood so we pour it into the individual cups before the consecration.

After Communion, I will begin purifying the chalice I use at the altar, again as a sign of reverence.  The ciborium and chalices we use at Mass are not ordinary table ware to throw in the dishwasher.  The purification by the clergy signifies our ritual perfection of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Does this mean we were doing it all wrong before?  No.  We were doing to the best of our ability with the knowledge and understanding we had.  The Church has come to realize that we need to constantly reflect on what we do at Mass to make sure it expresses our faith.  That’s why the translations change.  It is an ongoing process.  I mentioned before the changes we made ten years ago.  What some don’t know is that when we began using the new translations, some of the General Instruction translation was also “tweaked” to make sure it is expressing what it should.

Lex orandi, lex credenda.  May the way we pray at Mass express the belief we hold in our hearts.


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