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Fr. Tim’s Homily for October 1st, 2016

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

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Habakkuk 1: 2-3: 2: 2-4

  2 Timothy 1: 6-8, 13-14

Luke 17: 5-10

As members of God’s family, the Church, we come to this church building in order to worship God today.  And one of the parts of this church building, where I am standing right now, is called the sanctuary.  “Sanctuary” comes from the Latin word sanctus, which means “holy.”  It is from that word that we also get the words “saint” and “sanctity.”

This area is called the sanctuary – with the pulpit, the altar, the tabernacle and the chair – because the holiest of things happen right here.  From this sanctuary, this holy place, we hear God’s Word addressed to us in the Scriptures.  On this very altar very soon, bread and wine will be changed into the Body and Blood and the Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  On this altar the sacrifice of Calvary is made present for us during the Mass.  We come to this sanctuary to receive Jesus Himself into our bodies in Holy Communion and to become a sanctuary for Him.

And from this sanctuary we are sent on mission.  At the end of Mass, having heard His Word and having received His Body and Blood, we are told:  “Go!”  To do what?  “Announce the Gospel of the Lord.”  In what manner? “Glorifying the Lord by your life.”  Carry Jesus to the world where you live.  Carry Jesus within the sanctuary of your life.

Sanctuary – a holy place where all of God’s children are welcome and respected and safe.

In ages gone by, when a poor person was being chased by the soldiers of the king, that poor person could come to the church and seek sanctuary until they got a fair hearing.

In those shameful chapters of our American history when slavery was legal and prevalent, slaves running away would take sanctuary in the church until it was safe for them to leave to pursue their freedom.

In our own times, refugees will sometimes seek sanctuary in the church, lest they be sent back to a persecution, or be separated from their families.

Of all of the sanctuaries, the most beautiful and natural is a mother’s womb.  There an unborn child, whose life began at conception, is safe and protected and cared for and loved.  At least until January 22, 1973 – 43 years ago – when Roe v. Wade was decided by our Supreme Court.

Since then, the sanctuary of a mother’s womb is not always a safe place for an unborn child.

Does this move you to want to do more?  I hope so.

In the second reading, Saint Paul wrote to Timothy:  “Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.  Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

We need the courage to stand up for the God-given sanctity of every human life, from the moment human life begins at conception, until God calls us home through natural death.   For if we allow legal exceptions to this, then no human being is safe at any stage of their life.

All human life is holy and deserving of protection and respect.  It needs a sanctuary.

The recent Synod of Bishops on the Family was all about the value of every human life and the sacredness and beauty of the family in God’s plan.  In the Church we are a part of God’s family, and we all have a part to play.

This is the link with stewardship as a way of life.  All that I have is a gift from God:  my life, my time, my talents and my treasure.  God wants me to receive these gifts from Him gratefully, to develop them with an increase, to share them generously, so that each person gives as they have been blessed and each person receives as they need.

Stewardship as a way of life is all about becoming even better disciples of Jesus.  And because Jesus lives in us and we live in Him, we become a sanctuary for Him.

I hope that you have received a stewardship packet in the mail.  It contains:  (1) a letter from me;   (2) an explanation of our annual stewardship renewal in Saint Joseph and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parishes;  (3) a “Ministry Catalog” which describes each of the current ministries in our parishes as well as a contact person;  all ministries are available for members of either parish to participate in;  (4) and a “2016 Commitment Card” for each parish that enables each household to check off ministry involvements that they would like to renew or that they would like to join.

If your stewardship packet does not arrive this week, please let us know in the parish offices because we want every household to have one.

Next weekend at all of the Masses I will offer a very short homily and it will be followed by a fellow parishioner who will give a witness talk about how they are implementing stewardship more fully in their personal lives.

After all of the Masses next weekend you are invited and encouraged to come to our Ministries Fair in Saint Joseph Social Hall.  Our ministry leaders will be there to answer questions you might have after looking through your Ministry Catalog.  There will be no sign-ups at the Ministry Fair, no pressure to join.  Just a chance to find out more about ministries here in our parishes.

There will also be activities for our young people and food and fellowship for us all.

The following weekend, 15-16 October, is our annual Commitment Sunday.  You are asked to bring your completed commitment cards to Mass two weeks from now with your one-year commitments of time, talent and treasure.  And we will place them in the Offertory basket together.

Stewardship as a way of life is all about becoming even better disciples of Jesus each day.

And because Jesus lives in us and we live in Him, we become a sanctuary for Him.

There is a piece of music that is entitled very simply, “Sanctuary.”  I will leave its chorus with you today:

“Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.

A sanctuary for you.”