Fr. Tim’s Homily from Sunday, Nov 24, 2019

The Feast of Christ the King-C

2 Samuel 5:1-3

Colossians 1:12-20

Luke 23: 35-43

Readings for Sunday click here

Weekly Sunday Bulletin click here

         Today trust in Church leadership is falling.  Confidence in government and politicians is sinking.  We long for trustworthy leadership but, in our times, can we ever hope to find it?

         So where does our longing for trustworthy leadership lead us?  To today’s feast – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

         It was given to us by Pope Pius XI in 1925.  It falls on the last Sunday of the Church year.  Next Sunday opens the new Church year with the First Sunday of Advent.

Pope Pius XI was looking at the world and he saw dictatorships arising.  Mussolini [1883-1945] was parading around Italy with arrogance.  Hitler [1889-1945] was just released from jail and his scary Nazi party was gaining strength. 

Pope Pius XI wanted to remind the world of its Divine Lord and Master.  And so he established the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

         In America, presidents are voted in one day and out on another.   But a king is in office for life.  In today’s First Reading, from the Second Book of Samuel,  David is anointed the King of Israel, and the people pledge their ongoing loyalty to him.

         In Jewish thought, if you were loyal to God’s anointed one, the king, you were also being loyal to God.  But you and I know that King David, who he did a lot of good, also committed some very serious sins.  And we know that with human leadership there will always be flaws and failures.

         So who is the trustworthy leader for us to follow?  It is none other than the Son of God and the Son of Mary.  And what does Jesus our King teach us about leadership?

         Jesus describes Himself in the Gospels by saying, “I have come not to be served by others but to serve”  [Matthew 20: 28, Mark 10: 45].  He is our Servant King.  That is the kind of leadership that He exercises and that He teaches us to follow.

         In today’s Gospel, Jesus, our Servant King, is reigning from the Cross and suffering out of love to redeem us poor sinners.  And two thieves are crucified either side of Him.

One, in a very cocky way, says, “Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us.”

The other one, very humbly, says, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?  And indeed, we have been condemned justly… but this man has done nothing criminal.”  And then he – the one we call the “good thief” or Saint Dismas – says to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus hears his confession on that cross.  And Jesus says to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Someone entitled this Gospel scene, “The Thief Who Stole Heaven.”  At the last minute, the good thief opened his heart to Jesus, and Jesus’ heart was already wide-open to him.  That is the kind of leadership that Jesus teaches us to follow:  being servant leaders with loving hearts.

         Several years ago [December 1997] a young man in West Paducah, Kentucky took a gun to school and killed seven of his classmates.  Parents were frantically praying, “Not my child, Lord.  Please don’t let anything happen to my child.”

         One mother’s prayer was not answered as she had wished.  Her son died in the shooting.  In spite of her shock and grief, that mother didn’t hesitate when doctors asked if she would donate her son’s organs to others in critical need.

         Many months passed, and the mother discovered that her son’s heart had gone to a Methodist pastor.  She contacted him and asked to meet him.

         The day of their meeting, the grieving mother and the grateful pastor talked and prayed and celebrated the life of her precious son who had died so suddenly and tragically.

         And then the mother surprised the pastor by asking him, “May I put my ear next to your heart?  May I hear my son’s heart beating one more time inside of you?”

         We are each called to be a person who has received a transplanted heart, the heart of Jesus within us.  There are so many people today who are discouraged with scandals in the Church, with corruption in government and politicians, with violence and terrorism, with overwhelming greed and the outright rejection of God-given morals. 

They desperately need to hear the blessed reassurance of His beating heart.  They need to be able to put their ears to our hearts and know that Jesus Christ our King still reigns.   

And so we pray:  “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like yours.”

Fr. TIm’s Homily for Sunday, November 17, 2019

 

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

 

Readings for Sunday click here

Malachi 3: 19-20a
2 Thessalonians 3: 7-12
Luke 21: 5-19

A lot has happened in the last few of days.  I am happy to let you know today that our Saint Joseph Church Enhancement Project is getting underway on Monday, 18 November 2019.

This weekend, 16-17 November, will be the last time that we use this church until this project is completed.  During this coming week, we will be moving into our Saint Joseph Social Hall as our temporary church and, beginning next weekend, on 23-24 November, our Masses will be held there, the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

The John G. Johnson Company, our construction management team, confirmed with us on Friday that this will be a 5-month project and that the clock begins to run on Monday, 18 November. We hope to be finished in late April.

These will be some exciting times for our Saint Joseph Parish as we prepare to celebrate the 50th birthday of our beloved 3rd church in 2020.  Thank you for all of your support and encouragement. And, of course, your financial gifts and pledges are still needed and appreciated for our Saint Joseph Church Enhancement Project which gets underway on Monday.

Now for a homily reflection:
Today we hear a topic in the Scriptures – in the second reading from the second letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians – that we do not regularly hear about. Paul is talking about laziness or, as the British say, “bone idleness.” He writes: “If anyone is unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.”

There is a story about a duke and a duchess who had a servant in their longtime employ. One day the duchess called in this servant and asked, “James, how long have you worked here?”
“Thirty years,” he responded.
She then said, “As I looked through your contract, you were hired to watch our dog.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.
“But James, the dog died twenty-seven years ago!”
“Oh,” he said. “Is there something else that you would like me to do?”

Being lazy or bone idle… Paul gets after the Thessalonians about this. You see, there were some of them that thought that Jesus’ second coming at the end of the world – which is the subject of today’s Gospel – was going to happen very soon. “So why bother with work? Let’s just sit back and enjoy ourselves!”
But Paul says, “No, no. We don’t know when Jesus is coming again. It may be today. It may be thousands of years from now. So get busy and do your share of the work each day. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be bone idle.”
And Paul also says, “In toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you.” Paul was a tent maker by trade and he worked with his hands as an example for them.

The Jewish people had a saying: “If parents do not teach their children a trade, they teach their children to steal.” If scholars and rabbis were afraid to get their hands dirty, then how could they give any practical advice for daily living? So Paul says, “If anyone is unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.”
Notice that Paul is not saying that people who are unable to work should not eat, or that people who want to work but cannot find a job should not eat. Rather, he is saying that those who are able but are unwilling to work should not expect to come to the table.
This passage is urging us to do our best work not only in the great things of life but also in the little things – maybe making something for dinner from scratch instead of relying upon “microwave magic.” Or maybe doing that chore or that homework with a little extra care. Paul urges us not only to do our work, but to do it well.

There is a story about a man who bought a house without ever having seen it. He was asked how he could be so trusting. His answer was: “I know the person who built it. And that builder puts his Christianity into his bricks and mortar.” The buyer knew the reputation of the builder, so he trusted that the house was well built.
God is the Creator, the Master Builder, “the Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible” [Nicene Creed].
We have been blessed by God with so many talents and opportunities. Everything we have is a gift from God. As stewards of God’s bountiful blessings we show our gratitude by using and developing our gifts, and by sharing a portion of them generously with others. And so, I ask myself, “What return can I make to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” [Psalm 116: 12].

There is a great hymn of the Church [#144 in our “Breaking Bread” hymnal] that provides an answer to that question. The hymn is entitled, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” and the first and fourth stanzas have us look at the cross and say:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were ev’ry realm of nature mine,
My gift would still be far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!

Paul teaches us, “If anyone is unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” We look at our lives and our work in light of all the good God has done for us. What return can we make to the Lord?

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!

Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019

 

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

 

Readings for Sunday click here

2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14

2 Thessalonians 2: 16–3: 5

Luke 20: 27, 34-38

         We all want to go to heaven, right? But we’re not in any hurry to get there, yes?

         A doctor met his rabbi one day at the mall. The rabbi said, “Just think, Sam, the Messiah is coming soon.”

         The doctor responded, “God forbid! I have finally established my medical practice, my wife and I just built a new home, our children are in excellent schools, and we have tickets for a penthouse suite on the Queen Mary II for a holiday cruise. If the Messiah comes, we will have to move to Jerusalem!”

         “Calm yourself, Sam, calm yourself,” the rabbi said. “Did not Almighty God save us from Pharaoh in Egypt? Did He not save us from Goliath and the Philistines? Surely He can save us from the Messiah!”

         Perhaps we are more like that doctor than we think. Yes, we all want to go to heaven, but not just yet. “Save us from heaven, Lord!” Besides, in spite of all those holy pictures, we are not sure what heaven is going to be like.

         In today’s Gospel, the Sadducees – a group of Jewish leaders who did not believe in heaven – posed an absurd riddle to Jesus to try to show that His teachings about eternal life were ridiculous.

They told Him about a man who died without having any children. So, according to the law of Moses, his brother was required to marry the widow so that the family name could be preserved. Well, there were seven brothers and this poor widow married and buried all seven! “Now,” the Sadducees asked Jesus, “at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”

         Perhaps, if we are honest, those Sadducees were asking some of our kinds of questions about heaven.

         We can wonder, for example, whether babies who die will still be babies in heaven. And what age will we be when our bodies rise again in glory? Saint Augustine [354-430] decided that everyone would be thirty-three – which was Jesus’ age when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. Saint Augustine thought that being like Christ meant even to be the same age!

         Will our pets be in heaven? Will we all be thin? Will we still get to eat there? What will heaven be like?

         With all of our questions it is important that we listen to what Jesus had to say to the Sadducees when they asked Him whose wife the woman who had married and buried seven husbands would be.

         Jesus said that their question was irrelevant. Why? Because all will be radically different in heaven. All will be beyond what we can presently imagine or experience.

         One hundred years ago, people could not imagine open heart surgery or a computer or even a television. And yet all these things are commonplace today. So why do we think we can fully imagine heaven?

         Sometimes at funerals I hear people say things like: “They are probably enjoying the great golf course in the skies!” Oh my… if that’s all there is, if that is as good as it gets, I might as well hang up my vestments and join the circus!

         The lowly caterpillar, in its wildest caterpillar dreams, could never imagine that one day it would fly – and fly as a beautiful butterfly.

         Jesus is saying that our earthly categories are so limited. Heaven is a new state of being. It is beyond what we can ever fully imagine here.

         So, only one thing remains: faith. Believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we could live with Him forever in heaven. And what awaits us there will be an absolutely amazing surprise.

         Now it is all right that we try to visualize heaven. The poets and musicians chime in with their verses and melodies.

         The artists come along and paint heavenly scenes with harps because they know that music is the nearest thing we have to ecstasy on earth. And they depict gold crowns because gold does not rust, indicating “the forever” of heaven.

         But still, the poets and musicians and artists are all straining.

My advice to you is: keep on dreaming about heaven. But, when you meet God there, be prepared to be totally amazed.

Saint Paul hits the nail on the head when he writes about heaven: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him” [1 Corinthians 2: 9].

Believe Jesus and His promises. “I am going to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be” [John 14: 3].

Believe and follow Jesus. God will not leave us disappointed. Jesus promised that we have an absolutely amazing heaven to look forward to!