Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, August 25, 2019

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

August 25, 2019

Readings for Sunday click here

Isaiah 66: 18-21

Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13

Luke 13: 22-30

         Someone asked Jesus in today’s Gospel, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” And He answered, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”  

A writer diagrammed Jesus’ response this way. Think about a triangle without a base – like a teepee – and that open space at the bottom is a door that is very wide. You can enter quite easily, but the further you get in, the more confined and compressed you are. It looks like it offers absolute freedom, but once inside your freedom is seriously limited.

         That same writer then said that if we think about what Jesus is teaching us in today’s Gospel, the diagram would look like a “V” with a very narrow entrance at its base. It is difficult to get in, but possible. And once you get in, the promises and possibilities are immensely widened.

         The door to eternal life is a narrow door. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate,” Jesus teaches us.

         Many of you are going back to school this week. Education is a narrow gate. If you had a wonderful summer, the temptation is to not go back to school and to prolong the leisure. But where would that lead you in the long run?

         “Enter through the narrow gate.” Go to school and work hard. Seize the opportunities that come your way. Don’t just get by. Strive to excel, using all of your abilities. It will pay off by opening wide possibilities for your future.

         Now, when you have finished school, having gone through the narrow gate, if you still want to work for minimum wage, you can! But there are lots of other choices that you will be able to make. Education is a narrow gate, and it pays off.

         Physical fitness is a narrow gate. That may be an unexpected topic to bring up in church. But God made our bodies as well as our souls. And one day these bodies of ours that will die are going to be re-united with our souls as they are raised up in glory to everlasting life, as we profess in the Creed each Sunday. The last line of the Creed proclaims: “And I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” The Lord expects us to take proper care of our bodies – not over-indulging them, not neglecting them, and always respecting them.

         Someone said that his original goal in life was to have a body that looked like a Greek god. But later on in life he ended up looking more like a Greek restaurant! Yes, neglect takes its toll.

         Marriage is a narrow gate. Those of you who are married probably had several possibilities for a spouse, but you chose the one that you married. Eliminating all of the others for the one person that you are with can sound so limiting. Yet in a graced, faithful and loving marriage look at all of the abundant blessings that come to be.

         A little girl had a doll collection. She was asked which one was her favorite. She went to her room and came out with a doll that even Goodwill would have rejected. Most of the hair had come off, one eye was missing and the dress was tattered.

         When she was asked why this one was her favorite, she answered: “Because if I don’t love this dolly, nobody will.”

         Well, there is not a single one of us that is outside of God’s circle of mercy and love. “God loves each one of us as though there were only one of us to love,” as Saint Augustine wrote.

         God wants every one of us to be with Him in heaven one day. And He gives us the grace we need through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Son, Jesus. But God has also given us the gift of free will. We must choose the narrow gate to heaven, and we must renew that commitment every day.

         The narrow gate leads to abundant life whether we are talking about education or physical fitness or marriage or any worthwhile thing. And the most important of these narrow gates is the one that leads to heaven.

         “Strive to enter through the narrow gate,” Jesus teaches us. And you will be blessed with abundant life here and hereafter.

Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, August 18, 2019

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

August 18, 2019

Readings for Sunday click here

Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10

Hebrews 12: 1-4

Luke 12: 49-53

 

         A stagecoach was rumbling through western Montana. It was bitterly cold. The driver did everything to keep his two passengers warm: a woman and her tiny baby. But the mother was getting drowsy from the cold. If she fell asleep, she could die.

         He pulled the horses to a halt, wrapped the baby in a blanket and put it under the seat. Then he dragged the drowsy mother from the coach, slammed the door shut and drove off.

         Frantically the mother ran after him, screaming for her baby. When the driver was sure that the mother was fully awake and warm from her run, he stopped until she caught up with the coach. It was a rough way to keep her alive so that she could keep her baby warm, but that mother would later be so grateful to that driver.

         The driver did what God so often does. To shake us out of our spiritual drowsiness, our Heavenly Father often permits trials and troubles to awaken us, sometimes even pretty roughly, to His goodness and mercy and love.

         That is one reason that God permits tough times in His Church. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that He did not come to present peace to us on a silver platter, but that facing difficulties would be the price of that peace.

         Peace demands struggle. Individuals who seek peace must struggle against their own sinful inclinations. The family seeking peace must give up – painfully sometimes – individual likes and dislikes to attain it. The family of God, the Church, in its search for peace right now is going through a very painful cleansing and purification. This is all a part of God’s plan to shake us out of our drowsiness that can lead to our spiritual ruin.

         God permitted His truth-telling prophet Jeremiah, in today’s first reading, to be thrown into a cistern and sink in the mud. The second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus…that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”

         Pray for peace in the Church that through today’s struggles she may become a purer and better family of God. Use the promising words of today’s Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp. He set my feet upon a crag and He made firm my steps” [Psalm 40]. God is still watching over us with His goodness and mercy and love.  

         Here are a few ideas from Bishop Robert Barron from his “Word on Fire” podcast. You will find a lot more of his thoughts on this subject in his recent book, Letter to a Suffering Church.

Hey everybody, this is Bishop Barron. I wanted to speak to you again about this terrible crisis we’re passing through in the Church, this crisis of clergy sexual abuse and the countenancing of it by some bishops. What’s been striking me recently is the number of people who seem to be calling for the abandonment of the Church: “Because of this crisis, it’s time for us to leave the Church. We’ve simply had enough.”

Now, can I just say this? I totally understand people’s feelings. I share them—the feelings of anger and frustration. I get it. But can I also suggest, I think this is precisely the wrong strategy at this moment in the Church’s life.  Leaving is not what we ought to be doing. What we ought to be doing is fighting:

Fighting for the Church that we believe in so powerfully, seeing this blight, naming it clearly, unambiguously, but then fighting to set things right. It’s not the moment for cutting and running. It’s the moment for getting into the fight. You fight because you believe in the Church; you love the Church; and you realize that despite this terrible blight, it’s worth fighting for.

You know, keep in mind everybody, we are not Catholics because of the moral excellence of our leaders. I mean, God help us if we were. We want our leaders—indeed, we expect our leaders—to be morally excellent.

But we are not Catholics because of their moral excellence. We’re Catholics because of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. We’re Catholics because of the Trinitarian love of God. We’re Catholics because of the Mystical Body of Christ. We’re Catholics because of the Sacraments. We’re Catholics especially because of the Eucharist. We’re Catholics because of the Blessed Mother. We’re Catholics because of the saints. Even as leaders in the Church fail morally, the Catholic Church remains the Mystical Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. And she’s worth fighting for. [From Bishop Robert Barron, 30 August 2018, Why Remain Catholic? (With So Much Scandal), www.wordonfire.org]

Here and now we are re-living the sufferings and death of Jesus for our sins, the price of His resurrection, the price of the peace that He proclaimed on that first Easter Sunday morning. May we pray and work together through the sins of our times, moving from a drowsy complacency and despair to a renewed Church and a lasting peace.

My brothers and sisters, I wish you the peace that only Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has paid the price, can give us.

Peace.

Bulletin and Readings for Sunday, August 11, 2019

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

August 11, 2019

Readings for Sunday click here