Homilies - October 2010
- October 17, 2010
- by Fr. Christopher
If Mary can say: “My soul magnifies the Lord…. He has done great things for me;”
If Paul, the consummate Pharisee, can write to Timothy: “I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me;” Can I say without being a hypocrite: I give you thanks, O God, that I am not a pimp or a drug dealer, a thief or a Ponzi schemer, an adulterer or a child abuser. I am up early every morning to sing your praises with psalms and prayers of the church, to listen to scriptures and spiritual readings, do my meditation, be present at Holy Mass, and work at my assigned tasks during the day. At the end of the day I give you thanks and praise for your blessings.
If I can honestly say that, am I like the Pharisee in the parable, self-righteous? Not necessarily, as long as I balance that truth with two others; namely, that I not despise those others caught up in sinful ways and that I not forget to call upon God for mercy because I am a sinner too. There but for the grace of God go I.
Sirach wrote that God is not unduly partial to the weak and oppressed. Yet God has a heart that is touched by their prayers, prayers that pierce through the cloud to where God dwells in light inaccessible. There God hears them and responds to them. In his earthly ministry Jesus manifested that heart of God by his compassion for those like the bereaved widow of Naim, the outcast lepers, the woman caught in adultery, all the needy, the sick and the sinners who cried out to him for help.
The sin of the Pharisee in the parable was his judgmental attitude toward those he considered less righteous than himself. “He despised everyone else.” That attitude makes him reprehensible to us. But let us not be judgmental ourselves and believe that all the Pharisees in Jesus and Paul’s times were like the one in the parable or some of the others mentioned in the gospels. Otherwise we are falling into a similar trap.
If the tax collector who admitted his sinfulness and pleaded for mercy went away justified as Jesus said, did anything change in his life? Probably not. Many circumstances of our lives are outside of our control to change. Until they do, we live with the same compromises. Some men and women have to work on Sunday – the only jobs available – to feed their family and keep the roof over their head. Will God not have mercy on them if they cry out for mercy?
With regard to keeping of laws, we can know whether we did or did not eat meat on Ash Wednesday, that we said some morning and evening prayers, went to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, at least arriving before the gospel and staying until communion was over, and that we put a donation in the collection basket every time. We can know that we did not commit adultery, or shoplift from the stores we patronize. Does keeping the precepts of the law may us righteous, make us just in God’s sight?
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “If I give everything I have to feed the poor and hand over my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” The greatest commandment is love of God, of self and of neighbor. Who can say they have fulfilled that law? Only the total self-empting of the Son of God to become a man like us in order to be our Savior perfectly fulfilled that law of love. The lives of the saints approximate it and we are challenged by it every day.
If we have been blessed by God’s favor and graces in many circumstances of our life, we can indeed be grateful, giving thanks that we have been spared from what has blinded and entrapped others in sinful ways of living. We can and should pray that God be merciful to them the same way we trust he will be merciful to us. We take confidence in the words of Jesus: “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Call them to what? To conversion, to listen to the truth that sets them free, and brings them out of darkness into his wonderful light.
As we continue with our Eucharist let us offer our whole being – body, mind and spirit – in a common prayer of praise, thanksgiving with the offering of the acceptable sacrifice, in union with the beloved Son of God, Jesus, our Savior. To him, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory forever and ever. AMEN
Fr. Christopher Wyvill
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- October 10, 2010
- by Fr. Hilary
- 2 Kings 5:14-17
- Psalm 98:1-4
- 2 Timothy 2:8-13
- Luke 17:11-19
On this tenth day of the tenth month of the year 2010, we celebrate the 28th Sunday of the Year. Our Scriptures this morning remind us of God’s healing, forgiving power. Our second reading is a selection from the second chapter of the Second Letter to Timothy by St. Paul. It was probably written when St Paul was a prisoner in Rome. We know from the Acts of the Apostles that though he was a prisoner, he had many visitors and continued to teach. . If the letter was written in these circumstances we find a special poignancy in his description of himself in chains, though he is a Roman citizen, and all this for the sake of the elect, “that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.” “I am suffering,” he says, for the sake of the gospel, “even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.” I cannot hear these words without remembering how they were used to powerful effect in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass.
The second part of St. Paul’s letter has a hymn-like structure, prayerful thoughts expressed poignantly in four “if then” clauses. Those who die with Christ shall also live with him; those who persevere shall also reign with him. Good advice for Timothy, good advice for us.
The healing story of the Gospel has a rather different tone. Luke’s geography is more theological than geographical. Today’s text comes toward then end of what is called “the journey narrative,” in the central part of Luke’s gospel, from chapter nine through chapter 19. Jesus is going to Jerusalem. Already in chapter 9 Jesus has begun his boundary breaking ministry, even though one Samaritan village has refused him entry. In the story we heard from chapter 17 we know at least that Jesus was near Samaria. In chapter 10 Jesus had told the story of the Good Samaritan.. .Today’s reading gives us another in fact ” good Samaritan , who returns from the healing of his leprosy to give thanks to Jesus.
In the words of a contemporary commentator, ” Those who know they have been healed, who realize this was a gift freely given to them, and who return to give thanks, have, by these acts of devotion, stepped over a threshold to a new way of living. Into the new age of the final promise. If we have died with him we shall live with him.”
Fr. Hilary Hayden
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