Fr. Tim’s Homily for October 27, 2019

 

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

October 27th, 2019

National Priesthood Sunday

 

Readings for Sunday click here

Sirach 35: 12-14, 16-18

2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Luke 18: 9-14

 

         How weak will you allow yourself to be for Jesus Christ? Or, to put it another way, how much control are you willing to surrender to allow Jesus to take charge of your life?

         As we renew our stewardship commitments to Him, maybe we fear that we do not have what it takes to fulfill them.

         As we get ready to launch our Church Enhancement Project at Saint Joseph, and still need to raise another $500,000, maybe we fear that we might fail.

         As I stand before you to preach a homily without any notes, I do fear having a memory lapse.

         But when are we at our best? When we put our fears in Our Lord’s hands and allow Him to lead us where He wants us to go, yes?

         This weekend, we say farewell to Sister Stefana who is retiring and who has ministered among us for the past 19 years. When she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame more than 50 years ago, she served for many years as a homemaker for members of her community. Then the Lord led her to pastoral ministry here and she has become beloved to so many of us. The Lord wanted this and He enabled her to do so.

         And now she is ready to open a new chapter in her calling as a religious sister, returning to her Notre Dame Motherhouse in Chardon, where it all began for her.

         There will be a reception for Sister Stefana in our Saint Joseph Social Hall after the 8:30 AM Mass this Sunday. Our prayers and our gratitude are with her as she returns home to Chardon later this week to be with her religious community, the Sisters of Notre Dame.

         This is National Priesthood Sunday. We pray for all the priests in our country. While the sinful failings of some have come to light, the vast majority of our priests are good, hard-working, self-sacrificing men of faith and prayer and kindness.

Sharing in the priesthood of Jesus, we priests are to continue to do what Jesus did. And people have every right to expect us to show them what Jesus is like.

In May, 7 new priests were ordained for the service of the Diocese of Cleveland.

83 enthusiastic young men are currently in formation in our two seminaries, Borromeo and Saint Mary’s, and 57 of them for the Diocese of Cleveland. Our own Nathan Frankart is among them, in his junior year at Borromeo Seminary College.

Pray for our seminarians. And please pray for all the fine young people of our parishes that the Lord may be calling to the priesthood or the religious life. Let them know that you think they have what it takes to be a priest or a sister or a brother, if indeed God is calling them.

I thank the Lord for calling me – in spite of my unworthiness and inadequacy – to be His priest. Forty-four years have passed since my ordination on 14 June 1975 – and I have never once regretted this decision. I am grateful that the Lord has called me to serve you as His priest … as your priest … here in our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families.

I began with two questions today: How weak will you allow yourself to be for Jesus Christ? Or, how much control are you willing to surrender to allow Jesus to take charge of your life?

With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at today’s Gospel.

         The Pharisee went to the temple and began to pray proudly, reminding God of all the good that he had done and how rotten everyone else was, including the tax collector.

         The tax collector, with his head bowed, just beat his breast and said, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

         And Jesus said that the tax collector went home right with God, while the Pharisee did not.

         When the standard fare of our conversations is boasting about “all the good that we are doing, and doing so well,” we tend to forget about God in our lives.

         A writer coined the phrase, “the gift of inadequacy.” We all can feel inadequate in life: wondering if we are up to the task, fearful that someone will find out how inadequate we feel. Yet this author talks about inadequacy as a gift. That realizing my own inadequacy leads me to depend upon the strength that only God can provide.

         As Jesus teaches, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” [John 15: 5]. And as Saint Paul acknowledges the gift of his own inadequacy, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4: 13].

         The Pharisee looked respectable. He probably was a good neighbor and would have been a fine committee leader: he got things done. He believed in God, but he did not think that he really needed God. The Pharisee had no place for “the gift of his inadequacy.”

         The tax collector knew that he was a great sinner. He probably had over-charged people for their taxes and then pocketed the surplus. Now in the temple he bowed his head and admitted “the gift of his inadequacy”: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

         The tax collector went home right with God. The Pharisee went home full of himself.

         “The gift of inadequacy” makes growth possible: when we admit our need for God.

How weak will you allow yourself to be for Jesus Christ? Or, how much control are you willing to surrender to allow Jesus to take charge of your life?

As Jesus teaches, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” [John 15: 5]. And as Saint Paul acknowledges, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4: 13].

         “O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And God does – for all those who will accept “the gift of their inadequacy.”