Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sunday, August 5, 2018

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time-B

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Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15

Ephesians 4: 17, 20-24

John 6: 24-35

 

Jesus said, “Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.”

         Think about this. Everything – everything – we now own will be gone one day when we die. Our Wedgewood and our Waterford, our homes and our cars. Everything that you and I now own will be gone one day. It is a truth that we cannot dance around.

         We hear the wise and caring voice of Jesus telling us: Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.”

         What is Jesus talking about? Such things as: justice and mercy, forgiveness and faithfulness, love and compassion. These are some enduring things that Jesus has in mind – things that will give us deep happiness here on earth, and are “the passport to heaven.”

         But these things sound so general. How can I state Jesus’ teaching in a more specific way that you will more likely remember? The answer, of course, is a story. And this one, if you listen closely, is but a variation on today’s Gospel.

         Once upon a time, there was a king who was very sad. Even though he was loved by the queen, revered by his subjects and feared by his enemies, he did not have any children. “Who will carry on my work and my memory if I do not have an heir to my throne?” he wondered.

         A reward was offered to anyone who could advise the royal couple how to fulfill their dream successfully, while death was threatened for those who tried and failed.

         An elderly woman came to the king and the queen and told them that a child could be theirs if the king did what she requested. “And what is that?” he asked.

         “Your Majesty, there is no system in the kingdom for delivering pure water for us to drink and cook with. And so there is much sickness in the land. Have your army dig canals so that pure water comes to us from a clean source.”

         “And this will bring me a child?” the king asked. “Assuredly,” she replied with a smile.

         So the king commanded that a system of canals be built. And then sickness disappeared in the kingdom. But after many months there still was no child for the king.

         “You have lied to me,” the king said to the woman. “Prepare to die!”

         But the old woman answered, “Your Majesty, you have only fulfilled part of what is required. You must now parcel out land to all of your subjects so that they can raise food to feed their families and to sell for their livelihood.”

         “Why should I give away what is mine?” the king roared.        

“So that you might have someone with your name to follow you,” she said softly.

And so the king did as the woman had instructed him. Every family was given a plot of land for their own. And for the first time in memory, they could all feed their families and earn a living.

The king and queen waited, but still no child was on the way.

The king once again summoned the old woman and threatened her with death. But she said, “Your Majesty may kill me, but then you will never know if the last requirement will bear fruit.”

“The last?” he asked.

“Yes, one last thing you must do to ensure that you have an heir. You must dismantle your army. For the last twenty years our kingdom has fought war after war. Make lasting treaties with your neighbors, and then you will have a child.”

And so it was done. For the first time that anyone could remember young men remained home to plow the fields and to care for their families. And children played safely at the borders.

Now the king was sure that he would receive his heart’s desire. But as time went on, he still did not have a child.

And so once again he summoned the old woman to the palace and threatened her with death.

She went over to the open window and said: “Your Majesty, your wife was barren and so was the land. Your people died of sickness and starvation and war.

“Now look out at your kingdom! You have given your people health and food and peace. You have given them a better life, and your name is spoken with gratitude. Children are being named after you, and your name will be passed on to their children and their children’s children. Through your acts of loving kindness, you will be remembered as the father of all the children of this land.”

The king gazed at the new kingdom he had created. Taking her hand in his, he knew that she was right. His children would now number with the stars and he would be remembered as a father forever.

Without exception, every material thing we now own will be gone someday. What will our spiritual legacy be?

Today’s Gospel and today’s story challenge us: will we be like the king who did not get what he wanted, but gained everything he needed to be a saint? And who not only passed it on, but took it with him?

You know the familiar questions of Jesus: “Did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned?”

These are the questions that resound here on earth, and the answers that rebound to the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus said, “Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you…. I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

 

        

Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday, July 29, 2018

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time-B

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2 Kings 4: 42-44

Ephesians 4: 1-6

John 6: 1-15

 

         Two students were having an argument about which internet search engine was the best. One of them said, “I really don’t like that one because every time I use it I get stuff that I don’t really need.” The other replied, “That’s exactly why I like it: because sometimes the stuff I really need is not the stuff that I’m looking for.”

         All the information that can come to us through the internet is very plentiful. And it gives us a small glimpse of how God knows infinitely more, how awesome God is, and how bounteous God is with His blessings.

         Bounty. That’s a word that you and I say three times a day with grace before meals, don’t we: “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.” Bounty means the extravagant blessings of God.

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus being bountiful, extravagant with His blessings. Five thousand men are there at that mountain, and Jesus knows what He is going to do, but He first tests His apostles. He asks, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” And Philip answers, “Lord, two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, says, “Jesus, there is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many?” Then Jesus says, “Have the people recline.” He wants them to sit down on the grass. Then He takes the bread and the fish, blesses them and tells His apostles to distribute them. And there is plenty for everybody. In fact there are twelve baskets of leftovers! We see the bounty of Jesus: how extravagant He is with His blessings!

Notice that Jesus had the people sit down on the grass first. Why? For the very same reason that you and I are here today: to take the time to reflect on God’s blessings and to be grateful for them – and to prepare for those still to come.

         The people in the Gospel received something they hadn’t asked for. They came looking for more cures for the sick. But Jesus gave them something else: bread and fish multiplied so they could all be filled. All of this was in view of His gift of Himself to us in the Eucharist – His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – so that we can be nourished and strengthened bountifully in Him, with plenty for everyone.

         Sometimes the stuff that we really need is not the stuff that we are looking for.

A lady in a small town was going to be evicted from her home. Some of the neighbors put some money together so she could pay the rent. One of them went to her home and knocked and knocked on her door but there was no answer.

Come to find out, she was inside that house all along, but she wouldn’t answer the door because she thought it was the landlord coming to evict her. And God’s answer to her prayers was right there on her porch.

Sometimes the stuff that we really need is not the stuff that we are looking for. But the Lord knows what we need. As He has blessed us bountifully in the past, He is going to continue to bless us bountifully in the future as He knows best.

         We all need to take some time regularly to sit down somewhere and reflect on the Lord’s blessings to us – the ones we asked for and the ones that came as a complete surprise. As we sang in today’s Responsorial Psalm: “The hand of the Lord feeds us. He answers all our needs” [Psalm 145].

As we pray our grace at our tables, let us not be in a one-breath hurry with our thanks: “Bless us, Lord …gifts … bounty … Amen. Pass the gravy please.”

Not like that, but with hearts grateful for the Lord’s bountiful, oftentimes surprising blessings received, and awaiting those still to come: “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday, July 22, 2018

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time-B

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Jeremiah 23: 1-6

Ephesians 2: 13-18

Mark 6: 30-34

 

         The ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, was playing a game with some children. Someone came along and told him that he was wasting his time with such frivolous activity.

         Aesop saw an archer in the crowd and asked if he could borrow his bow. Aesop loosened its string and said to his critic: “If this bow is strung all the time, eventually the tension will wear it out. But by unstringing it in between times, the bow is going to have great tension available to me when I need its strength.”

         And so it is with our lives. Our days are marked with periods of tension and relaxation, just like the bow. There is a rhythm in life, as Matthew Kelly reminds us. We need time for being wide awake and time for being fast asleep. We need to mark our waking moments with time for prayer, time for work and time for leisure.

         We find this notion in today’s Gospel. The apostles had been out preaching and healing the sick. They came back to Jesus “and reported all they had done and taught.” Jesus noticed that they were very tired and He said to them: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Rest is a necessary part of the rhythm of life, and Jesus recognizes this.

         “If we don’t come apart,” one writer says, “then we will come apart!” We need to “come apart” with the Lord regularly. We are doing that right now in this Mass on the Lord’s Day. We listen to His Word to us in the Scriptures. We receive His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. We “go forth” in peace at the end to return to our daily activities with renewed energy.

         But we need to “come apart” with the Lord not only on Sundays. Every day needs to be marked with some quiet time with Him in prayer. Today I would like to suggest a few places where you, as busy persons, might find an oasis to accept the Lord’s invitation: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

         Being the oldest of six children, one of the things that marked our days at home when we were small was nap time. [Looking back on this, I think that our naps were far more for my mother’s sake than for ours!] I remember that during our nap times we would think of all kinds of excuses to come downstairs and ask my mom a question, like: “How many more minutes until our naps are over?”

         But I also remember that when I would come down the steps to the living room, very often I would find my mom praying her rosary or using her prayer book or doing some inspirational reading. That was her quiet time with the Lord, even with all of us kids still in the house.

         Many of you travel a lot in your line of work. And with all the down time that goes with business travel – time in the car, in airports, in hotels alone at night after the meetings are over – there are lots of opportunities for personal prayer time with the Lord.

         And with all the time that you and I spend driving, there are those 10-15 minutes trips that are just right to say the rosary or just talk something over with the Lord. Or maybe for longer trips, listening to an inspirational talk or music might be an oasis-opportunity – rather than simply passing the time with the radio playing.

         Most people are great at planning their work and planning their leisure. But lots of people have trouble planning regular time for their prayer. And if left to the last on our list of priorities, it will be the first thing to go.

There is a rhythm to life. That is how God made us. We need time for being wide awake and time for being fast asleep. We need to mark our waking moments with time for prayer, time for work and time for leisure.

         In a world that equates busy-ness with success, and constant activity with importance, that brings laptops and smart-phones on vacation, that works more hours a day than people did thirty years ago, that constantly taxis children to events away from home, that takes as its motto, “I don’t have time!” – the invitation of Jesus is more vital and welcome than ever: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

         Let’s take the One who made us at His Word.

 

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