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Homilies Ordinary Time

Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Well, that’s a challenging instruction for Jesus to give us this morning.  “Go and do likewise.” Those who hear the Gospel must also live it.  Those who do not go and do likewise are like the foolish Galatians in today’s first reading who seem to be abandoning the Gospel and replacing it with all kinds of other rules, including circumcision, that are mere appearances of holiness.  Those of us who would call ourselves disciples of the Lord must do better than that.  We must indeed “go and do likewise.”

We’ve all heard the story of the Good Samaritan umpteen times so it may all too easily go in one ear and out the other.  But we really must hear what Jesus is saying in this parable if we are to get what living the Christian life is all about.  The hero in the story is one that Jesus’ hearers would have expected to be anything but heroic, anything but good.  Indeed, the very name “Samaritan” was synonymous with all things despicable.  So for the Samaritan to come out as the good guy was something that made his hearers stand up and take notice, even to the point of getting under their skin.

Yet it was this person, who was considered to be the scum of the earth, that knew instinctively the right thing to do.  Compassion for others is part of the natural law, something that every person should possess, Christian or not, and for Christians it is certainly foundational to living the Gospel.  Turning one’s back on those in need is reprehensible and any who do that are not hearing what the Gospel is teaching us.

The Gospel is not merely for our edification; it is for our instruction. Those of us who would dare to hear it must be willing to go and do likewise.

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Homilies Life and Dignity of the Human Person Ordinary Time

The Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Respect Life Sunday)

Today, I’d like to share a bit more of a sermon than a homily, reflecting more on a specific topic than on the readings themselves.  I do this because today is Respect Life Sunday, and I think it’s important to be aware of what the Church teaches on this very important issue.  This being an election year ups the ante a bit on Respect Life Sunday, because we need to do our best to vote for leaders who will help us to respect life in all its stages.  It’s not an easy choice, nor one we should make without due prayer, study, and reflection.  I hope this little sermon can be of some help in that regard, and my column in the bulletin today reiterates much of what I’ll say here.

I would begin this reflection with these beautiful words from today’s second reading: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  We can be so distracted by things that seem good that really aren’t all that good, things that seem important that are really just sweating the small stuff, and God would have us look instead at what is lovely, gracious, excellent and worthy of praise – in short, God would have us reflect on what he has created and know that this is the greatest gift, the most important thing we could be busied about.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.” (CCC, 27; cf. Gaudium et Spes 19.1)  Life is the greatest good we have because it is God who created life, every life, from the tiniest embryo to the elderly person in the final stages of life.  We reverence life, respect life, reaffirm life, because human life is the best thing there is on this whole big earth, the most magnificent of all God’s wonderful creation.

The basis for the movement to respect life, of course, is the fifth commandment: You shall not kill (Ex 20:13). The Catechism is very specific: “Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: ‘Do not slay the innocent and the righteous.’ The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.” (CCC 2261) And that would seem simple enough, don’t you think? God said not to kill another human being, and so refraining from doing so reverences his gift of life and obeys his commandment.

But life isn’t that simple. Life is a deeply complex issue involving a right to life, a quality of life, a reverence for life, and sanctity of life. Jesus himself stirs up the waters of complexity with his own take on the commandment. In Matthew’s Gospel, he tells us: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.” (Mt 5:21-22)

Our Savior’s instruction on life calls us to make an examination of conscience. We may proclaim ourselves as exemplary witnesses to the sanctity of life because we have never murdered anyone nor participated in an abortion. And those are good starts. But if we let it stop there, then the words of Jesus that I just quoted are our condemnation. The church teaches that true respect for life revolves around faithfulness to the spirit of the fifth commandment. The Catechism tells us, “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.” (CCC 2319)

The issues that present themselves under the heading of respecting life are many.  We are called to put aside racism and stereotyping, to reach out to the homeless, to advocate for health care for all people, to put an end – once and for all! – to abortion, capital punishment, war, terrorism and genocide, to recognize that euthanasia is not the same thing as mercy, to promote the strength of family life and the education of all young people, to provide food for those who hunger.  We Catholics must accept the totality of the Church’s teaching of respecting life, or we can never hope for a world that is beautiful or grace filled.

We pro-life Catholics are called to go above and beyond what seems comfortable in order to defend life.  And so we must all ask ourselves, are there lives that we have not treated as sacred? Have we harbored anger in our hearts against our brothers and sisters? What have we done to fight poverty, hunger and homelessness? Have we insisted that those who govern us treat war as morally repugnant, only to be used in the most severe cases and as a last resort? Have we engaged in stereotypes or harbored thoughts based on racism and prejudice? Have we insisted that legislators ban the production of human fetuses to be used as biological material? Have we been horrified that a nation with our resources still regularly executes its citizens as a way of fighting crime? Have we done everything in our power to be certain that no young woman should ever have to think of abortion as her only choice when she is facing hard times? Have we given adequate care to elder members of our family and our society so that they would not face their final days in loneliness, nor come to an early death for the sake of convenience? Have we avoided scandal so as to prevent others from being led to evil? Have we earnestly petitioned our legislators to make adequate health care available for all people, so that the ability to choose life doesn’t come at such disastrous cost?

Every one of these issues is a life issue, brothers and sisters, and we who would be known to be respecters of life are on for every single one of them, bar none. The Church’s teaching on the right to life is not something that we can approach like we’re in a cafeteria. We must accept and reverence and live the whole of the teaching, or be held liable for every breach of it. If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. And the world is definitely watching: are we who we say we are?  Do we really respect life, or do we pick and choose which issues are important to us?  On this day of prayer for the sanctity of life, our prayer must perhaps be first for ourselves that we might live the Church’s teaching with absolute integrity in every moment of our lives.

Our God has known us and formed us from our mother’s womb, from that very first moment of conception. Our God will be with us and will sustain us until our dying breath. In life and in death, we belong to the Lord … Every part of our lives belongs to the Lord. Our call is a clear one. We must constantly and consistently bear witness to the sanctity of life at every stage. We must be people who lead the world to a whole new reality, in the presence of the One who has made all things new.

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Angels Homilies

The Holy Guardian Angels

Today’s readings: Exodus 23:20-23 | Psalm 91 | Matthew 18:1-5, Matthew 18:10

This is one of my favorite memorial days of the year.  Today we celebrate the Holy Guardian Angels.  Each one of us has a Guardian Angel assigned to us by God.  That angel prays for us and does their best to guide us and keep us close to Jesus.  Our Guardian Angels are powerful spiritual beings who do everything possible to keep us from harm.  If we would pray often to our Guardian Angels, we would really benefit from their advice and care for us.  Today we celebrate that the angels keep us safe and lead us ultimately to God himself.  The gift of our Guardian Angels is one of the most wonderful gifts we have from God!

I love the feast of the Guardian Angels, because my Guardian Angel was probably the first devotion that I learned. I remember my mother teaching me the prayer. Say it with me if you know it:

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To watch and guard,
To rule and guide.

Amen.

The Scriptural reference for today’s feast is summed up in the first line of the first reading. Hear it again:

See, I am sending an angel before you,
to guard you on the way
and bring you to the place I have prepared.

From the earliest days of the Church, there has always been the notion of an angel whose purpose was to guide people, to intercede for them before God, and to present them to God at death. This notion was then developed by the monks of the Church, with the help of St. Benedict, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and others. It is during this monastic period that devotion to the angels took its present form.

It used to be that people would move over on their seats to make room for their Guardian Angel!  As amusing as that may be, the having an angel to guard and guide us is essential to our faith.  The gift of the Guardian Angels is a sign of the love and mercy of God.  Devotion to the Guardian Angels, then, is not just for when we are children.  Adults should also, always feel free to call on their angels for intercession and guidance.  We should continue to rely on that angel right up to death, when we strongly believe that our angel will present us to God.  In the Rite of Christian Burial, there is a beautiful prayer for the person that tells us about that.  It says:

“May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.”

So our Guardian angel is an important intercessor, and guides us all through our lives.  I think people too often forget about their Guardian Angel, and I hope we can change that.  With all the hard things happening in the world right now, I think we need our Guardian Angels more than ever.  So I encourage you to say that Guardian Angel prayer every morning; I know I do!

May the Guardian Angels always intercede for us.  And, as we hear in today’s Gospel, may our angels always look upon the face of our heavenly Father.

Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.

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Angels Homilies Saints

Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

Today’s readings

This is the beginning of a rather angelic few days for us Catholics.  Today we celebrate the feast of the archangels, and on Friday we will have the joy of honoring our guardian angels.  We celebrate the way the angels protect and guide us and keep us on the path to Christ.

Many people think that when people die, they become angels.  That’s not actually true.  Angels are a different order of creation from human beings.  There is a continuum of creation from things that are pure body, like a plant or a rock or a lump of dirt, all the way to those who are pure spirit, which would be the angels.  We humans are somewhere in between, being the highest and greatest of the bodies, and the lowest of the spirits.  Everything has its place in creation, and was created the way God intended it.

So today we celebrate the highest of the highest of the spirits: Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the archangels.  Each of these angels is specifically mentioned in Scripture.  Michael is mentioned in the book of Revelation, as the protector of the heavens and the defender of the people of God.  Michael fights the spiritual battle that is going on throughout the ages.  He is the patron of police officers, and the pope.  Gabriel is the announcer of good news, and we know him from the story of the Annunciation to Mary of her pregnancy.  Gabriel is the patron of communications workers.  Raphael is mentioned in the book of Tobit, in what is a beautiful story.  His purpose in that story is to protect Tobit on the journey to recover his family’s fortune and to introduce Tobit to Sarah, curing her of the despair she had over her last seven marriages, which all ended in death on the wedding night.  Raphael also cured Tobiah, Tobit’s father, of blindness due to cataracts.  Tobit and Sarah get married and live happily ever after, which is why it’s such a great story.  Raphael is the patron of travelers and healthcare workers.

We know a little bit about all these angels because of today’s feast. But those stories are not finished just yet.  The angels are still working among us, guiding us, healing us, defending us, and bringing us good news.  The angels are probably working through people you know.  They’re even working through you whenever you help someone else.  The truth is, I don’t think we would live very safe and happy lives if it weren’t for the angels among us.  Today we should thank God for Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and for all the people who cooperate with those angels in all their important work.

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Homilies Ordinary Time

The Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Whenever I start to hear this Gospel reading, I usually think, “Oh yeah, I know this one, about the Prodigal Son…” and then the story unfolds and that’s not it at all.  But reflecting on the story, there are certainly similarities.  The prodigal son certainly wasn’t wanting to do his father’s will.  He ran off on his own and, when things turned sour, he realize the grave error of his ways and returned home.  The other son in that story stayed and did the father’s work, but when he was invited in to the celebration, he objected and turned away.  Which one of them did the father’s will?

It’s not a perfect parallel and so the metaphor doesn’t really quite work, but you get the idea.  Both of these stories are about repentance, both of them are about God’s mercy, and both of them challenge the religious establishment of the time because they were not doing the Father’s will.

As we get to these late summer-early fall Liturgies of the Word, you might have noticed that there is a strong theme of God’s mercy, which invites repentance.  Three weeks ago, we heard about the concept of fraternal correction: if your brother sins, go to him, then if he doesn’t repent bring a few witnesses, and if that doesn’t work go to the church, and if that doesn’t work, well treat him as a Gentile or a tax collector.  I made the point that week that Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors with mercy and love, so again, we are talking about mercy.

The following week found Saint Peter trying to establish the rule on forgiveness.  How many times must I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  He thought seven times was pretty generous.  But Jesus took it a magnitude greater: not seven times, but seventy-seven times: in a word, forgive your brother all the time.  We disciples are called to great mercy.

Then last week, we had the parable of the day laborers, with those who worked just an hour getting paid as much as those who worked the whole day long.  The point was that God treats everyone the same: at whatever hour of one’s life a sinner returns to God, that sinner will find mercy, same as everyone else.

So here we are, with the sons called to go out into the vineyard to work.  One of them flat out says forget it, I have better things to do, but then later repents of his sloth and the horrible way he treated his father and went instead.  The other son who was eager to say he’d go, later found the prospect of work a little more than he could bear so he didn’t go at all.  Jesus parallels this story to, once again, tax collectors and prostitutes.  These horrible sinners are seeing the light and even though they rejected the message early on in their lives, they responded to God’s call, through Saint John the Baptist, and repented.  But the religious leaders did no such thing.  Despite their equal need for mercy, they refused it, and called to repentance just like the tax collectors and prostitutes, they continued on their merry way to perdition.

But we can’t be like them.  We disciples have heard the Word of God and we know better.  We have at our disposal many tools of grace: the Sacrament of Penance, the Holy Eucharist, counsel of the Church, and so much more.  We have to see our own need for mercy and respond.  What’s important for us to see here is this: God extends his mercy and forgiveness and grace and calling to us all the time. We may respond, I think, in one of four ways. First, we may say no, and never change, never become what God created us to be. This happens all the time because we as a people tend to love our sins and love our comfort more than we love God. We often think we can fix ourselves on our own, without need of God’s mercy.  Or we may even think that our lives are not important enough for God to be bothered with helping us, or that our sins are so big that there’s no way he’d want to.  And sometimes, we just plain would rather not be inconvenienced or challenged to grow.

A second response: we might also say no, but later be converted. That’s a little better. Let’s be clear: there is no time like the present, and we never know if we have tomorrow. But God’s grace doesn’t stop working on us until the very end. So we can have hope because God does not give up on us.  That was what the first son did in today’s Gospel reading.  That was somewhat like the action of the Prodigal Son as well.  Mercy and grace work on us all the time, and when we respond, it’s effective.

In a third response, we might say yes, with all good intentions of following God, being in relationship with him, and doing what he asks of us. But perhaps we get distracted by life, by work, by our sins, by relationships that are impure, or whatever. And then we never actually become what we’re supposed to be.  Maybe that was what happened with the second son in today’s reading.

Or, finally, we might actually say yes and actually do it, with God’s grace. We might be people who are always open to grace and work on our relationship with God. Then that grace can lead to a life of having become what God wanted of us.  When we say yes, whether it’s right away or after a change of heart like in today’s Gospel, the grace of that moemtn puts us on the path to sainthood, which is where we are all supposed to be.  The model for that, of course, would be the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was able to say “yes” to God’s plan for her and the world right away.  Saying “yes” to God might seem remote, particularly if you are struggling with habitual sin or addiction, but mercy holds the door open to sainthood all the time.  We just have to answer the door.

Today’s Gospel is a good occasion for a deep examination of conscience. Where are we on the spectrum?  Have we nurtured our relationship with God and said yes to his call, or are we somewhere else?  And if we’re somewhere else, what is it that we love more than God?  What do we have to do to get us on the right path?  We know the way of righteousness.  We know the path to heaven.  We just have to make up our minds and change our hearts so that we might follow Jesus Christ, our way to eternal life.

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Homilies Ordinary Time

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

You know, I think Herod was asking the right question.  Sure, he was asking it for all the wrong reasons, but still, it is the right question.  And that question is, “Who is Jesus?”

What Herod was hearing about Jesus is pretty much what the disciples told Jesus when Jesus asked, “Who do people say that I am?”  Elijah, or one of the prophets, or maybe even John the Baptist.  But Herod was the one who killed John so he knew that couldn’t be it, so who is he really?  Herod kept trying to see him, and of course, he’d have more than ample opportunity soon enough, after Jesus is arrested.

So we have the question too.  Oh, we know well enough – intellectually – who Jesus is, but we still have to answer that question in our hearts.  Who is Jesus for us?  We know he is not just some prophet; that he is not like anyone who lived before or after him.  But have we stopped being intrigued by the question, have we lost our fascination with Jesus?  Herod kept trying to see Jesus, and it’s the right instinct, or at least it is for us.  We have to keep trying to see him too, whether that takes us to a rereading of the Gospels or to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or to contemplative prayer.  Whatever the case, fascination with Jesus is the right way to go, and we have to let ourselves be intrigued by the question again.  Who is Jesus for us?

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Homilies Saints

Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Today’s readings

Saint Matthew’s call to be an Apostle, and a Saint, was highly improbable.  And that’s good news for us, because our own calls are improbable too. Our God does amazing things with the improbable!  Matthew was a tax collector, working for the Roman occupation government.  His task was to exact the tax from each citizen.  Whatever he collected over and above the tax was his to keep.  Now the Romans wouldn’t condone outright extortion, but let’s just say that they weren’t overly scrupulous about what their tax collectors were collecting, as long as they got paid the proper tax.

So Matthew’s reception among the Jews was quite like they might accept any other kind of bad news.  The Pharisees were quick to lump men like Matthew with sinners, and despised them as completely unworthy of God’s salvation. But Jesus had different ideas.

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.

Go and learn the meaning of the words,

I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

So it’s amazing for us to celebrate the call of a man who was anything but worthy. Because he was called, we know that our own calls are authentic, unworthy as we may be. Just as the Matthew spread the Good News by the writing and preaching of the Gospel, so we are called to spread the Good News to everyone by the witness of our lives. Matthew’s call is a day of celebration for all of us sinners, who are nonetheless called to do great things for the Kingdom of God.

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Homilies Ordinary Time

The Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

I wonder if you find this Gospel parable a little aggravating.  I have heard it many times now, and I certainly have bristled with aggravation on occasion when I’ve heard it.  And, as I often say, it’s good when the Gospel gets us a little riled up, because that means God is doing something in us that invites us to salvation.

Certainly the people hearing it in Jesus’ day would have been aggravated when they heard this parable too.  They knew the economics of day laboring better than we do (although day laborers are by no means extinct in the twenty-first century).  The very thought that those who labored hard all day, in the sun, would get the same as those who worked but an hour was unthinkable.  I dare say we find it that way too.

So it’s important for us to notice, first of all, that this is not intended to be a parable about justice.  Jesus tells us right away: “The kingdom of God is like a landowner…”  So the parable is not about justice, but instead it is an illustration of the workings of the Kingdom of God.  In one sense, that’s comforting, because Jesus is not telling us that we should run our businesses with lavish disregard for economic wisdom.  I would be hard pressed to be convinced to even run the parish that way.

But now let’s think about the fact that the parable is about the Kingdom of God.  Jesus was delivering a message to the religious establishment: they didn’t have the monopoly on the kingdom.  They thought they had earned God’s reward, and Jesus tells them it doesn’t work that way.  It’s not about what you’ve done or how long you’ve been doing it, it’s about God’s mercy and love that is poured out with lavish generosity.  They would have found that pretty irritating.  I think we know that in our heads, but when it comes to how this parable plays out, it reveals that we may not have accepted it in our hearts.

Do you mean to tell me that those of us who have worked hard and long for the mission and spent our days and nights at church might inherit just as much as someone who ignores the Gospel and converts on his or her death bed?  Well, yes.  That very well could be.  Many years ago now, I heard about the deathbed conversion of actor John Wayne.  I remember thinking at the time, “Gee, that’s convenient.”  Here he may well have led a life of excess and who knows what all debauchery and only on his deathbed was he willing to form a relationship with God.  Here those of us disciples have been working hard at it all this time, and yet some can get it just at the last minute?  That makes me bristle with thoughts of unfairness.  But, as the prophet Isaiah tells us today, our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and our ways are not God’s ways.

And who am I to judge John Wayne, or really anyone?  It’s important to note that we cannot pass judgment on anyone.  I don’t know the details about John Wayne’s life and certainly not about his relationship with the Lord.  Who knows if a conversion wasn’t something he had been looking forward to for a long time and he didn’t know how to make it happen.  Maybe he had, in fact, been kept from hearing the Gospel in his formative years and so didn’t have the basis for a life of faith that many of us do.  The important thing is that his desire was granted, in the waning moments of his life, and God is generous.  That’s all we need to know.

Let’s face it, none of us wants God to be too strict an accountant.  No matter how hard we may try to be good disciples, we often fall short in big ways and small ways.  God gives us second chances all the time.  And we are blessed that we worship a generous, or we’d all of us be in a world of hurt, without exception.  

If anything, even us cradle Catholics should be grateful for this message, because if we are honest, our tiniest sins are a grave offense to Almighty God, who is goodness itself, and who gives us everything we need in this life and in the next.  We who have gravely offended God by our sins need those second chances too, and we have them.

Another good way to think about this parable on this Catechetical Sunday, is that the time to foster a relationship with Jesus isn’t limited to the beginning of the day, or the beginning of our life.  We are called to form a life-long relationship of learning, and growing in relationship, with the God who loves us beyond anything we can imagine.  Every hour of the day, every stage of our life, is an opportunity to let Jesus come and get us, and put us to work in the field of the faith.

The last line of the Gospel might sound unfair, but ultimately, I think, it is hopeful: “The first will be last and the last will be first.”  Let that sink in for a minute: whether you’re first or last, you still have the possibility of life eternal.  It doesn’t matter when you get there, or where you were in line, or if someone cut in ahead of you.  There is always enough grace and mercy to go around.  There are always dwellings for us in the kingdom of heaven.  None of us will be left without the love of God, if only we approach it, if only we accept it, if only we don’t get caught up in thinking about who gets in ahead of us.  News doesn’t get any better than that.

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Homilies Ordinary Time

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

We’ve all heard this gospel parable about the sower and the seeds dozens of times. We know, then, that the seeds are the Word of God: not just some words, but Word with a capital “W,” which is Jesus himself, God’s eternal Word, spoken to bring life to a world dead in sin.  We know that the seeds are that presence of Christ which fall on hearts that are variously rocky, or thorny, or rich and fertile.  We’ve heard the parable, with Jesus’ own explanation, as well as homilies about it, so many times.

But what got me wondering as I read the parable in preparation for this morning’s Mass, was why – why are we hearing this parable now?  The liturgical cycle usually conforms to the calendar, more or less, and so why this parable about sowing seeds now, right on the verge of autumn? Nobody in their right mind sows seeds this late in the year, certainly not in our climate!

But God does.  He sows the Word among us all the time: every day and every moment.  It’s not just once for the season, and if the seeds don’t grow, then try again next year maybe.  He is constantly sowing the seeds in us, urging us to make of our hearts rich, fertile soil for the Kingdom.  And we do that by enriching the soil through reception of the Sacraments, participating at Mass, enlivening our prayer life, being open to the Word.

The Sower is out sowing the seeds of his Eternal Word all the time.  Let’s give him fertile ground, that we can yield a rich harvest.

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Simon the Pharisee had committed a grave error in hospitality, and a serious error in judgment. In those days, when a guest came to your home, you made sure to provide water for him or her to wash their feet, because the journey on foot was often long and hot and dirty, and it was pretty much always made on foot. But Simon had done no such thing for Jesus.

Simon’s intentions were not hospitable; rather he intended to confront Jesus on some minutiae of the Law so as to validate his opinion that Jesus was a charlatan. He judged the woman to be a sinner, and reckoned Jesus guilty of sin by association. But Jesus is about forgiveness. He didn’t care about the woman’s past; he just knew that, presently, she had need of mercy. Her act of love and hospitality, her posture of humility, her sorrow for her sin, all of these made it possible for Jesus to heal her.

But the one who doesn’t think he is in need of healing can never be healed. And so that’s our examination of conscience today. Are we aware of our need for healing, or have we been thinking we are without sin, without brokenness, without openness to God’s mercy? If so, our moments of reflection today need to guide us to honest and open acceptance of God’s mercy, and a pouring out of the best that we have in thanksgiving.  Like the repentant woman, we need to humble ourselves, and pour out our sorrow for our sins.

We are offered so much mercy and forgiveness for our many sins. Let us love much so that we might receive the great mercy our Lord wants to give us.