O.T. XIX [C] (Aug 11) Sunday homily one-page summary (L-19)
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the necessity for trusting Faith in God’s promises and vigilant preparedness among Christ’s followers to meet their God as their Judge and Rewarder, at the time of their death. Fidelity in doing God’s will is the best preparation for our death.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading cites the Faith-filled preparedness of the ancient Hebrew slaves in Egypt before their mass exodus to the Promised Land. Their trusting faith in their God’s promises gave them hope. We are told how their Faith and Hope resulted in their liberation. With expectant Hope, the Hebrews sacrificed the first Passover lamb and ate the first ritual meal, as prescribed by their God through Moses. They awaited their imminent release and were prepared for it. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33), invites us to express our own confidence in God and to declare our trust in His Providence. In the Second Reading, taken from the last chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, the author defines Faith as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). He tries to bolster the Faith of the Jewish Christians (the Hebrews), by appealing to the example of their ancestors, starting with Abraham, and reviewing the things they had accomplished by Faith. In the Gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to trust the Father’s promise to give them eternal happiness in His kingdom. But they are to be prepared at all times, because the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour, either at the moment of their death or at the end of the world, whichever is earlier. Using the master-thief parable, Jesus warns us to be on our guard so that the thief (the devil), may not steal our treasure of Divine grace or our relationship with God by his temptations. Using the master-servant parable, Jesus reminds us always to do the will of God by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love and offering humble and sacrificial service to others.
Life message: We always need to be prepared to meet Our Lord as our judge: Let us always remember the words of the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me” (3:20). Since nobody is sure about the time and circumstances of his or her death, we must be ever prepared to face Jesus our Lord and Savior as our Judge at the moment of our death to give an account of our lives. He wants to see that we have kept our personal relationship with him by growing in holiness. Such a growth is assisted by daily talking to him and listening to him in Bible reading; by asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day; by recharging our spiritual batteries through offering our lives on the altar and getting spiritual nourishment in Holy Communion during the Holy Mass; by getting reconciled with God every day, asking for His pardon and forgiveness with a repentant heart and seeking His forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation for serious sins; and by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love by serving all the people around us, sacrificially sharing our blessings with them, by seeing the face of Jesus in everyone.
OT XIX [C] (Aug 11)) Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2, 8-19; Lk 12: 32-48
Homily starter anecdote: # 1:Be watchful servants:Steven Anthony “Steve” Ballmer (born March 24, 1956) has been the chief executive officer of the Microsoft Corporation since January 2000. He is one of the richest people in the world with a personal wealth estimated at USD 27.7 billion in 2016, and the 35thrichest person in the world. He is Bill Gates’ hand-picked successor. In 2004, he was seen crawling on the floor of the General Motors’ executive conference room, trying to fix a connection that would enable him to make a pitch to GM engineers. The image of the Microsoft CEO on his hands and knees to please some customers made such an impression on the author Steve Hamm that he wrote a whole article based on this one incident. [Steve Hamm, “Why High Tech Has to Stay Humble,” Business Week (19 January 2004), pp 76-77.] Corporate executives will get on their hands and knees to show customers how much they care. In today’s Gospel Jesus warns his followers to be ever prepared by doing the will of God always in their lives, as the time of their death is uncertain.
# 2: “Faithful and prudent stewards” in the parish: Every so often there are people who want to make a spectacular gift to the Church — something big, something that can be seen and identified; usually it’s a gift in memory of a deceased loved one. No one ever says, “just apply this to the budget.” That’s understandable. There’s nothing flashy about paying the light bill or getting the carpet clean. But there are folks in every parish who are willing to do just that: the unspectacular, the unflashy, the unnoticed things that make a big difference in the lives of the parish and the people it serves. For example, there’s the woman who is very well off who writes a sizable check to the parish every week to be used to buy gift cards at the local supermarket for poor and struggling families. And then there’s the college professor who volunteers her time every year to teach the fourth-grade religious education class. She’d be a great addition to the adult education and RCIA programs, but she finds that teaching the kids are a great leveler in her life. She says her rambunctious group makes her a better teacher — and a better Christian. Then, there’s the usher who welcomes parishioners to the first Mass on Sunday mornings and handles the details of hospitality. After Mass he goes through the Church picking up bulletins from the benches, straightening out the hymnals and making sure the rest rooms are clean for the next Mass. He’s one of the city’s most successful and respected attorneys. He’s always generous in giving legal help to the parish — but he shies away from taking a prominent leadership position. No, he says, this is where the need is, and he’s happy to be able to help fill it. We are all called to be “faithful and prudent servants” of the abilities and resources that the “Master” has entrusted to us and will call us accountable for — not for the breadth and depth of those gifts. (Connections).
# 3: “Come what may,” St. Francis answered, “I would finish hoeing my garden. “A woman once approached John Wesley (1703-1791), Anglican theologian and the founder of the Methodist denomination, with an interesting question: “Suppose you knew for certain that you were going to die and meet your Maker at the stroke of midnight tomorrow,” she said. “How would you spend your time between now and then?” Wesley replied, “Well, madam, just as I intend to spend it now. I will preach this evening at Gloucester and again at five tomorrow morning. After that I will ride to Tewkesbury to preach in the afternoon and meet with the societies in the evening. Then I’ll go home to dinner, talk and pray with the family as usual, retire to my room at 10 p.m., commend myself to God, lie down to rest and wake up to GLORY!” When he had been similarly questioned, Martin Luther 1483-1546), replied, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my little apple tree and pay my debts.” Centuries before Luther and Wesley, Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), was hoeing his garden when one of his brothers in Christ put the same question to him. “Come what may,” he answered, “I would finish hoeing my garden.” In a sense, the Scripture readings for today invite each member of the gathered assembly to become engaged in a similar reflection. What would you do if you knew that this day would be your last? What would you not do? How would you prepare to meet God? Where would you go? With whom would you spend your remaining hours? (Patricia D Sanchez).
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the necessity for trusting Faith in God’s promises and vigilant preparedness in the followers of Christ.
Scripture readings summarized: The first reading cites the Faith-filled preparedness of the ancient Hebrew slaves in Egypt before their mass exodus to the Promised Land. Their trusting Faith in their God’s promises gave them hope. We are told how their Faith and Hope resulted in their liberation. With expectant Hope, the Hebrews obediently sacrificed the first Passover lamb and ate the first ritual meal, as prescribed by their God through Moses. They awaited their imminent release and were prepared for it. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33), invites us to express our own confidence in God and declare our trust in His providence. In the Second Reading, taken from the last chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, Paul defines Faith as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). He tries to bolster the Faith of the Jewish Christians (the Hebrews), by appealing to the example of their ancestors, starting with Abraham, and reviewing the things they had accomplished by Faith. In the Gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to trust the Father’s promise to give them eternal happiness in His kingdom. But they are to be prepared at all times, because the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour, either at the moment of their death or at the end of the world. Using the master-thief parable, Jesus warns us to be on our guard so that the thief (the devil), may not steal our treasure of Divine grace by his temptations. Using the master-servant parable, Jesus reminds us to do always the will of God by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love, offering humble and sacrificial service to others.
First reading, Wisdom 18, 6-9 explained: The book of Wisdom was written about a century before the coming of Jesus, by a faithful, learned Jew living in cosmopolitan Alexandria in Egypt. One of his purposes was to bolster the Faith of fellow Jews living in a world indifferent, and sometimes hostile, to their beliefs. A favorite theme of the writer is how the providence of God has protected the Chosen People throughout their history, especially during the time of their enslavement in Egypt and during their Exodus to freedom and the Promised Land under Moses. The author goes over these events in great detail. Our verses today interpret Exodus chapters 11 and 12 where, while the angel of the Lord was striking down the first-born of Pharaoh and other Egyptians, the vigilant Hebrew slaves were both obediently offering grateful sacrifice to the Lord and eating the meat of the lamb to fortify themselves for their coming escape. That night was the first Passover. Like those Jewish slaves in Egypt, we, too, have been called to cling to the Hope of a future that may seem too good to be true, and we, too, are expected to be steadfast in our Faith, even when we see no signs of the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Second Reading, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 explained: This passage is taken from the end of the Letter to the Hebrews. It contains the only explicit definition of religious Faith in the Bible: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Like our first reading, the Letter to the Hebrews was trying to bolster the Faith of the Jewish Christians (Hebrews), by appealing to the example of their ancestors who had believed in promises yet to be fulfilled. The chief example of strong Faith is found in their patriarch Abraham, a wealthy but childless pagan in Ur of the Chaldees (modern Iraq). Abraham heard the voice of God summoning him to a different land, where God promised to grant him many descendants. By Faith Abraham left his homeland, accepted God’s promise that his descendants would form a great nation, and was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s command. Despite obstacles and setbacks, Abraham stayed obedient, “for he thought that the One Who had made the promise was trustworthy” (Heb 11:11). The first century Jewish Christians were ostracized from Temple worship (sacrifices, priesthood, rituals), of mainline Judaism. To bolster their Faith, the author provided a complex treatise showing that, in their new life in Christ, they were more than compensated for what they had lost. They were given the assurance that Christ’s promises for his believers exceeded the promises given to their Jewish ancestors.
Gospel exegesis: Be ready for your death and Jesus’ Second Coming: Today’s reading from Luke 12 is one of three eschatological discourses in the Gospel. All three of the Synoptic Gospels record Jesus’ concern for his disciples as he warned them to keep alert, to keep watch over themselves with careful attention. The passage is a collection of short parables, in which the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers). According to the Fathers of the Church, Jesus’ words in this passage have two senses. In the narrower sense, the words refer to the Second Coming of Jesus, but in the broader sense they refer to the time of our own death, when God will call us to meet Him and to give Him an account of our life on earth. Since the precise time of each is unknown to us, the proper attitude for Jesus’ followers is constant watchfulness. “The secret to living out the theological virtue of Faith is to see that the here and now is the place and time in which God wants us to meet Him and to serve Him. It is not in the past, which is over. It is not the future, which we can only imagine and so is not real. The person in the state of grace who washes the dishes well, because it is his job, and who offers this work to God for the sake of his neighbor, is living out the virtue of Faith and is prepared to meet Christ.” (St. Jose Maria Escriva). “The early Christians literally believed that the return of their Lord would take place at the Passover, as the first Israel believed that the Messiah would come that night.
When the Christ did not return literally at midnight, the Church celebrated the agape-Eucharist, in which he came in advance of his final coming. So, the promise was fulfilled: “He will gird himself and have them sit at table and he will come and serve them. “Every Eucharist, especially every Sunday Eucharist, is a reflection of the paschal Eucharist, and so the same promise is fulfilled here, too. (Reginald Fuller).
Relationship by grace: In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us what our real treasure should be and how we may keep it safe. The treasure God offers is of far greater value and is more secure than any earthly treasure. Nevertheless, it is possible for us to lose this treasure if we do not guard it carefully. The treasure is the relationship with God, which the Lord offers us in His promise of eternal life. But this treasure can be stolen by the devil or lost by a lack of vigilance in the midst of our temptations. Jesus uses two comparisons to explain the nature of the vigilance required of us. We must be ready for action like an oriental servant and trimmed for service like an oil lamp. The long flowing robes worn by people of the day were a hindrance to work. When a man prepared himself to work, he gathered up his robes under his girdle (belt) in order to leave himself free for activity. The reference to fastened belts and lamps burning ready (v. 35) also recalled the preparedness for action, which was legislated for Israel in the Passover ritual (Ex12:1). Just as the Israelites were to be ready to pass from slavery to freedom, so were the disciples to live in a state of alertness in order to recognize and accept the Passover which Jesus offered – from sin and death to forgiveness and life. The eastern lamp was like a cotton wick floating in a vessel of oil. The wick had to be kept trimmed at all times and the lamp replenished with oil. Otherwise the light would go out. What Jesus teaches us through these comparisons is that our relationship with God the Father must be constantly replenished by our prayers, our Sacramental life, our reading of Holy Scripture and our acts of charity. Since the Lord is committed to us in an unbreakable Covenant of love and fidelity, we must respond with equal commitment, no matter how difficult it may be. In His love for us, God always gives us the grace and strength to remain faithful, and He will reward our faithfulness.
Steadfast Faith and eternal vigilance: In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts his followers to be steadfast in their Faith and ever vigilant. He explains his point using three mini-parables. The servants of a master were entrusted with the management of the household. In Jesus’ day, although stewards were slaves, they had almost unlimited power. A trusted steward ran his master’s house and administered his estate. When his master was not at home, the steward was ever vigilant. He prepared himself for his master’s return at any time of the day or night by always doing his duties faithfully. Jesus illustrates the same point using another mini parable of the wise servants waiting for the return of their master after a wedding feast.
Jesus teaches us the need for constant vigilance, using yet another mini parable of the thief and the treasure. We should not lose our treasure of Divine grace like the man who awoke one day to discover that a thief had stolen his wealth during the night. These parables are addressed to all believers to encourage “wakefulness” and preparedness. We must be vigilant like the servant in the parable waiting for his master’s unexpected return or like the wise homeowner who was well prepared for the unexpected break-in of a thief. Since the time of our death is quite uncertain, we, too, must be ever ready to meet our Lord at any moment. He should find us carrying out our task of love, mercy and service, rather than leaving things undone or half-done. He should also find us at peace with God, ourselves and with our fellowmen (Eph 4:26).
Irreparable mistakes: Jesus then presents the parable of the unwise steward as a warning to us. The unwise steward made two mistakes. (i) He said, “I will do what I like while my master is away. “Like him, we often forget that our Lord is always with us, and that we will be accountable to him on the day of reckoning. Misuse of an office for one’s own advantage or the abuse of others will bring about severe punishment, for the returning Lord will place that servant “with the unfaithful.” (ii) He said, “I have plenty of time to put things right before the master comes.” Nothing is as fatal to the accomplishment of a task as procrastination. Jesus also warns us that knowledge and privilege bring responsibility with them. Today, looking back on two thousand years of Christian history, we find it difficult to expect Christ’s second coming during our lifetime. But we are sure to meet him at our death. Since the date and time of our death are unknown to us, we should always be ready to give him an account of our lives.
Catechism of the Catholic Church on today’s Gospel theme: Christ calls us to anticipate his return. While we might not have fervor the early Christians had, we are to still look forward to his arrival. At the end of the world, Jesus will return to judge everyone according to one’s actions and one’s faith. Then, good will definitely triumph over evil. Until that time, we represent Christ to others by our actions and our Faith. Our example, then becomes part of our anticipation. (680, 681, 682)
Why do we look for Christ to return? There are many reasons. One would be our devotion to him. Another would be our return to earth after death in the “resurrection of the dead.” As Christians, we believe not only in life after death, we also believe that God will reunite our souls and bodies together at the end of time. At the resurrection of the body, we will have a body like Christ’s, a “spiritual body.” (1016, 1017).
What kind of steward does God expects us to be? God expects Christian to be accountable, faithful and productive stewards of God’s grace and His gifts to us of creation, life, body, talents, skills, wealth and possessions. Negatively, in order that the Lord will find us responsible, faithful and productive stewards when he comes in glory, let us avoid some of these pitfalls and mistakes while awaiting the second coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior: First, complacency in that Jesus’ return is not yet imminent. Second, idleness or sloth–doing nothing. Third, gross negligence in the performance of duties. Fourth, procrastination —always postponing to another day what can be done today. Fifth, abuse of power and position and squandering of resources. Sixth, the mañana habit– starting our work, but fading away and quitting; a lack of perseverance. (The name is taken from the quip, “Mañana may translate to “tomorrow,” but it really means “not today!”) _
Positively, let us religiously perform the tasks require of us and fulfill our role as stewards of God’s gifts and graces: First, protect, preserve and conserve all Gods’ gifts entrusted to us. Second, develop to the maximum all the spiritual, material and physical resources entrusted to our care. Third, communicate and share all the fruits and benefits of the gifts and talents we preserved, developed and cultivated. Good stewards will be generously rewarded, while bad stewards will be severely punished and will suffer a great loss. “The reward or punishment will be proportioned to the powers, gifts, opportunities, and knowledge of the offenders.” As Scripture says: “everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required”; cf. Mt 5:19-20; 7:21-22; 25:41-46; Jas 2:14. Whenever the Lord comes, will he find us responsible, faithful and productive stewards or lazy, abusive and unfaithful stewards? Can we give him a good account of our stewardship?
Life messages:1) We need to be vigilant and ready to face the Lord. One of the traditional means for remaining alert is prayer. The most important element in prayer is listening to God – an attitude of attention to the “tiny whispering sound” of the Lord (1 Kgs 19:11-12). Such attentiveness demands that we set aside a quiet time every day during which we can tune our ears to the Divine sounds of love, harmony and peace. Let us recall the words of the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me” (3:20).
2) We need to wait for the Lord. “Waiting for Christ to return” means working for the coming of the Kingdom of God. This means doing God’s will by rendering humble service to others, by combating poverty, by ending the hatred that divides us, by establishing peace among individuals and nations, by curbing the pride that causes us to become confrontational, and by building social structures that respect the dignity of individual humans. We must wait for the Lord in our daily lives by learning to see Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters. In other words, we must be prepared to serve Jesus in whatever form he takes. What we frequently discover in “serving” other people is that God comes to us through them.
JOKE OF THE WEEK:
1)Get ready for the Heavenly trip. During his sermon, an evangelist asked all who wanted to go to Heaven to raise their hands. Everyone in the audience did so–except for one elderly man sitting near the front of the auditorium. The preacher pointed his finger at him and said, “Sir, do you mean to tell us that you don’t want to go to Heaven?” “Sure, I do,” the old man answered, “but the way you put the question, I figured you were getting up a busload for tonight!’
2)”Who is in the Penthouse?” A holy pastor of a very large parish died and went to heaven. He was convinced that he would get the penthouse in Heaven. ”If not I, then who? “he thought, not so humbly, to himself. Instead, he was given a tiny one-bedroom apartment. Disappointed and not a little angry, the preacher asked St. Peter why he couldn’t have the penthouse. St. Peter replied, “We have lots of pastors and preachers like you here in Heaven, and the conveniences in your apartment surpass everything available to the rich and famous people on earth.” “Then who is in the penthouse?” the pastor demanded. “It’s a lawyer,” replied St. Peter. “What?! Why?!” Peter replied, “Until now, we have only one of them in heaven!”
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
2) Catholic Information Network –www.cin.orgProvides excellent topical listings for Catholic sites on the web.
3) Catholic-USA.com– www.seeq.comProvides links to thousands of official and authentic Catholic websites in the USA.
4) New Advent Catholic Web:http://www.newadvent.org/(Resources on Catholic doctrine and teachings, as well as many other Catholic issues).
5) Know your Bible-1
1) Jewish and Christian Bibles: A Comparative Chart
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.(http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Heb-Xn-Bibles.htm)
2) http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/14-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-book-zealot(A Muslim from Iran, professor in the U.S., labeling Christ a Zealot).
6) Video presentation: https://youtu.be/ZUB0lSzDBUo;
1) Historical Surprises with trusting Faith in God and readiness for action:Who would have thought that relatively powerless persons could bring shifts in history? Gandhi, an unsuccessful lawyer, adapted the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and the writings of Tolstoy and became the key to bringing independence to India, because he was ready. Rosa Parks, in refusing to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, sparked the beginning of the Civil Rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s. She was a rather inauspicious person to take such a critical action, but she was ready. Nelson Mandelawas sentenced to life in prison. He was released to bring a shift in the politics of South Africa at a critical juncture when many thought, either that change would never come or if it did, it would be accompanied by a vast bloodbath. The transition to a more just society came relatively peacefully under his leadership after he was unexpectedly released from prison. Prison had prepared him, made him ready. Mother Teresa,a rather unpretentious nun, has been canonized a Saintfor her simple act of trying to rescue people from the streets who might otherwise die. She was ready! [William E. Keeney, Preaching the Parables(CSS Publishing); quoted from Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) The end of the world predictions: Hal Lindsey, in his book The Late Great Planet Earth, which has sold over 30 million copies, predicted in his book that 40 years after the establishment of the country of Israel Jesus would return to earth, and 7 years after that return, the Church would be raptured to Heaven. The problem is this: Israel was established in 1948. Christ should have returned in 1988 and the church should have been raptured in 1995. In 1997 Hal Lindsey was forced to change his predictions. In the late 80’s, the Russian president, Mikhail Gorbachev, was considered by some Bible prophecy pundits as the Antichrist. But Gorbachev, far from becoming a world dictator, turned out to be the single person most responsible for the demise of Soviet Russia. Televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson predicted that Russia was the great Gog and Magog mentioned in Ezekiel 18. When Russia collapsed in the early 90’s, losing its status as a world power, they were forced to change their positions. Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, predicted the world would end in September of 1994. Grant R. Jeffrey wrote a popular book called Armageddon stating that the year 2000 was the most likely date of the world’s end. We know that all these predictions were false ones. These false predictions suggest that we are to get ready for Christ’s second coming by trying to do the will of God every day through loving service and daily reconciliation with God and God’s children, as suggested by today’s Gospel. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) Harry Andersen was ready: The day will come when we get the message saying that the time has come for us to die. We are called to be ready for this time by having Faith and Hope in Christ. Harry Andersen was ready. He had terminal cancer, but he kept his sense of Faith and Hope alive. His pastor could tell he was ready because they talked about Christ’s death and Resurrection and what this event means for us when we die. In addition, a sign of Harry’s Faith and Hope was expressed in the humor he shared with his pastor. After Scripture reading and prayer, Harry told the pastor the story of a man who was dying of cancer. He was bedridden on the second floor of his house. He could smell the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven downstairs. He loved chocolate chip cookies. As a matter of fact, they were his favorite. He forced himself to get out of bed and crawled to the flight of steps leading downstairs. Each step brought new pain to his body, but he had to have some of those chocolate chip cookies. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he crawled to the kitchen table and reached up for a cookie. Suddenly, his wife appeared out of nowhere and slapped his hand with a spatula. “Why did you do that?” he cried out. “Those cookies are for your funeral reception,” she said. Harry Andersen laughed out loud as he told the story. The pastor rolled on the floor with laughter at the unexpected ending. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
4) Stand ready: The movie West Side Story is a modern version of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The setting is New York City, and the hero and heroine are Tony and Maria, two young people who belong to different ethnic groups at war with each other. Nevertheless, Tony and Maria fall in love with each other. As the story reaches its climax, they are about to escape together from the hatred of the West Side when their dreams are destroyed by Tony’s tragic death in a senseless fight. Tony never expected that night to be his last. He was anticipating his marriage to Maria and the new life they would enjoy together. He had even borrowed money to get them started. Tony was making plans to live not to die. –But, as today’s Gospel points out, death often comes in sudden and unexpected ways. Jesus said to his disciples “You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour, you do not expect” (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5)“I have sent you many messengers.” According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Death. He told the Grim Reaper that he would willingly accompany him when it came time to die, but only on one condition – that Death would send a messenger well in advance to warn him. Weeks turned into months, and months into years. Then one bitter winter evening, as the man sat thinking about all his possessions, Death suddenly entered the room and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, the man cried out, “You’re here so soon and without warning! I thought we had an agreement.” Death replied, “I’ve more than kept my part. I’ve sent you many messengers. Look in the mirror and you’ll see some of them.” As the man complied, Death whispered, “Notice your hair! Once it was full and golden, now it is thin and white. Look at the way you tilt your head to listen to me because you can’t hear very well. Observe how close to the mirror you must stand to see yourself clearly. Yes, I’ve sent many messengers through the years. I’m sorry you’re not ready, but the time has come for you to leave.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
6) “To have Faith is to be sure of the things hoped for….”:When Alexander the Great came to the throne he was a worried man, as he was surrounded by enemies who wanted him dead, so he did his best to put down the rebellion in his own kingdom. However, while leading his army in battle he fell seriously ill. His physicians were scared to treat him because if he didn’t recover, they would be suspected of malpractice and put to death. Only one man, Philip, was ready to take the risk and prepared the medicine for the king. Alexander received a letter from an enemy of Philip stating that Philip had taken a bribe from a Persian king to poison his master. Alexander read the letter and slipped it under his pillow. When Philip entered his tent with the medicine Alexander took the cup of medicine and drank it, at the same time handing the letter to Philip. When Philip read the letter, he threw himself at his master’s feet, but Alexander assured him that he had complete confidence in Philip’s integrity. After three days Alexander was completely cured. Given the fact that he had numerous enemies, Alexander was trusting against the odds. But his decision to take the medicine was not a shot in the dark. Although he couldn’t see what would happen, he believed in what he could see – Philip’s loyalty – and acted on that belief. (Denis McBride in Seasons of the Word). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
7) Look Busy, Be Busy:Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of the old story of the apparition on the corner of Main and Market in a busy city. It was Saturday morning when Fr. Pascucci heard a knock on the rectory door and an extremely excited lady said, “The Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.” Father was in the process of trying to decide if she was suffering from stress or whatever, when a second person came running, “Father, Father, the Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.” “When?” Fr. Pascucci asked. “He’s there right now,” they both answered. So Fr. Pascucci went down the block where a large crowed had formed, and sure enough, he saw Jesus. After a while the Lord left. Fr. Pascucci didn’t know what to do, so he called a Monsignor friend of his. His friend told him to call the Bishop. So Father Pascucci called the Bishop and told him the news, “The Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market. What should I do if He comes back?” The Bishop thought for a while and then told Fr. Pascucci he’d get back to him. The Bishop then called Rome, and, being an important Bishop, he got the Pope. “Holy Father,” he said, “One of my priests, Fr. Pascucci, reports that the Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market in his parish. He wants to know what he should do in case the Lord comes back.” After a few moments the Pope replied, “Tell Fr. Pascucci to look busy.” Good advice for us all. The Lord is coming back. How should we prepare? Not just by looking busy, but by being busy, doing good for others by humble service. (Fr. Pellegrino) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
8)A trusted steward:That’s the kind of promise that our Lord has given us upon his return. He will sit us down at his banquet table, and satisfy the needs of us – His servants. Donald Trump, the famous businessman, has a net worth of 2 billion dollars. Wouldn’t it be nice to have him as a personal friend? There is a story about Trump’s generosity with a stranger. It is said that Trump’s limousine broke down on the Garden State Parkway on the way home from Atlantic City during a weekend excursion. An unemployed auto mechanic stopped to help, succeeded in getting the limo running and then refused to accept any payment for his services. Trump was so impressed that the next day he sent flowers to the mechanic’s wife and a certified letter stating that the man’s mortgage had been paid in full. Trump was asked about the incident and refused to confirm or deny the story or say exactly what he did for the Good Samaritan mechanic. “I don’t do those kinds of things for publicity,” he said. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
9) Privilege carries responsibility: Three years ago, in a game against the Washington Nationals in San Francisco, Barry Bonds whacked his 756th homer, breaking the 33-year-old mark held by legendary player Hank Aaron. This was the 756th home run of Bonds’ career, breaking a record that had stood for 33 years. None of the legendary players of the game like Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays or the previous record holder Hank Aaron could match it. But in spite of the tarnishing of Bond’s miraculous achievement by allegations of steroid use, another baseball player still lives in people’s hearts. It is Cal Ripken, the former baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles. He was a sports’ hero of two decades simply because he always showed up and gave his best and was ready for action at any time. He received ten national awards in ten years including 1996 Male Athlete of the Year and 2001 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. He learned the principle that faithfulness demands consistency, commitment, and hard work. He never missed a single game in sixteen years of playing baseball! He earned the nickname “Iron Man” by playing in a record 2632 consecutive major league games. The string of successive games ran from May 30, 1982 to September 19, 1998. Perhaps, Ripken’s determination, and Barry Bonds’ failure to live an allegation-free career by avoiding steroids, remind us of today’s Gospel which tells us that the joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it the more awesome responsibility of being faithful to God in our stewardship. The Gospel passage also reminds us that we should avoid the temptation to put off for tomorrow what Jesus expects of us today. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
10) “I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow.” A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida to thaw out during one particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the very same hotel where they had spent their honeymoon twenty years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their flights, so the husband left Minneapolis and flew to Florida on Thursday with his wife scheduled to fly down the next day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. Accidentally, he left out one letter in her email address and without realizing it, sent the email message to the wrong person. Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister of many years who was called home to glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her email since she was expecting messages of condolence from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor and was amazed by what he saw on the computer screen. To: My loving wife. Subject: I’ve arrived. I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was. P.S. It sure is hot down here! The widow wasn’t ready for that message. It was a mistake. The time will come when we get the message saying that the time has come for us to die. It won’t be a mistake. We are called to be ready for this time by having faith and hope in Christ. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
11) Readiness – Watchfulness:A U.S. Army officer told of the contrast in his pupils during two different eras of teaching at the artillery training school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Home of the Field Artillery). In 1958-60 the attitude was so lax that the instructors had a problem getting the men to stay awake to hear the lectures. During the 1965-67 classes, however, the men, hearing the same basic lectures, were alert and took copious notes. What made the difference in the class of 65? They knew that in less than six weeks they would be facing the enemy in Vietnam. (Quoted from Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
12) Offering Ourselves to Serve:In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter’s magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target. But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Pioneer 10 was hurled by Jupiter’s immense gravity at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun. And despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth. “Perhaps most remarkable,” writes Jaroff, “those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light and takes more than nine hours to reach Earth.'” The Little Satellite That Could was not qualified to do what it did. Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years. But it kept going and going. By simple longevity, its tiny 8-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone thought possible. So, it is when we offer ourselves to serve the Lord. God can work even through someone with 8-watt abilities. God cannot work, however, through someone who quits. (Quoted from Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
13) Plan for eternity too:We as Americans are very good at thinking about the future. We prepare for a myriad of WHAT IFS by the various insurance policies we hold: Life, Car, House, Boat, etc. We plan for retirement with various investments and funds. Some people even make all of their funeral arrangements, years in advance with a hometown funeral home even though they are in perfect health. We begin to plan for the education of our children even though it may be nearly 2 decades away. We save and save and save for summer vacations,or maybe even for the purchase of a vacation cottage or cabin. High school students are beginning to think about colleges earlier and earlier in their High School careers. Special SAT Prep classes are offered now for freshman and sophomores in order to get a head start. College students start accumulating résumé data as soon as they enter college anticipating the days when they will be walking into interviews wearing their power colors, firmly shaking hands, and handing over an impressive résumé. We are already good at thinking about the future. Jesus encourages us in today’s Gospel to take that skill and to extend it to the reality that He will indeed come again at the end of time. (Fr. Mazzone). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
14) Stand ready:Mary Adele lived all her life in small native communities. But after some years Mary discovered that her homeland was being used for low-level flying for testing weapons of war. For more than five years, Mary took an active part in the struggle to stop this low-level flying. She soon discovered that another battle was going on inside her -a battle with cancer. Mary Adele knew the seriousness of her illness, yet she did not fear death. When the Son of Man came for Mary Adele, she was ready and willing. This ordinary woman with great courage knew that her priorities had always been to do God’s will. She had lived up to them to the best of her ability. After a short life of forty-eight years Mary Adele had accumulated few material possessions. She did have, however, a wealth of treasured experiences of love and service which she cherishes today in Heaven. -Today’s Gospel spoke clearly to Mary and she responded with her life. As Christians we need to ask the same questions. What are our priorities? What’s most important in life? (Jim McCaffery in Living in Christ; quoted by Fr. Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
15) God searches for us:According to legend, Queen Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, was captured and carried away and became a victim of amnesia. She became a prostitute in the streets; she didn’t know her name or the fact that she came from royal blood. But back in her home her friends didn’t give up hope for her return. An old friend believed she was alive and went to look for her. He never lost faith. One day wandering through the streets he came to a waterfront and saw a wretched woman in tattered clothes with deep lines across her face. There was something about her that seemed familiar, so he walked up to her and said, “What is your name?” She gave a name that was meaningless to him. “May I see your hands?” he pursued. She held out her hands in front of her and the young man gasped, “You are Helen! You are Helen! Do you remember?” She looked up at him in astonishment. “Helen!” he yelled out. Then the fog seemed to clear. There was recognition in her face. The light came on! She discovered her lost self, put her arms around her old friend and wept. She discarded her tattered clothes and once more became the queen she was born to be. -–God searches for God searches for us in a similar way. He uses every method possible to look for us and to convince us that we are worthwhile to Him. In today’s Gospel from Luke we have a collection of disjointed sayings of Jesus all related to the theme of waiting for the Lord and being ready to serve him. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) The ill-fated Air India Express Flight 812: 22 May 2010, The Air India Express took off from Dubai and headed towards Mangalore (India), with 160 passengers and 6 crew members. The original reservation chart had the names of 169 people. In that nine people cancelled the trip. One of the passengers had just returned from India on 20th but was called back by her ailing husband. So she boarded the next available flight. Out of 166, 158 died when the plane overshot the runway and crashed, while landing. 8 passengers survived the crash. Others were not so blessed. None of them knew that 21st night was his/her last night on the earth, that they would never see the sunrise again. They took the flight to their hometown with great dreams and fantastic plans for the future. There were men who were returning after three or four years of hard toil in the blazing deserts to join their dear ones. There were young men who boarded the flight with dreams of their bride, the wedding celebrations and the joys of building up a new family. All these dreams crashed along with the plane. Today’s readings remind us too, to be ready to accept the call any day. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
17) “I never have had clarity, but only trust: Long ago, when I spent a month working at the House of the Dying in Calcutta, I sought a sure answer to my future. On the first morning, I met Mother Teresa after Mass at dawn. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” I asked her to pray for me. “What do you want me to pray for?” I voiced the request I had borne thousands of miles: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said “No.” That was that. When I asked why, she answered that clarity was the last thing I was clinging to and had to let go of. When I commented that she herself had always seemed to have the clarity I longed for, she laughed: “I never have had clarity; what I’ve always had is trust. So, I will pray that you have trust.” (Fr. John Kavanaugh; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
18)The Man Who Lost Himself: In one scene of Osbert Sitwell’s novel The Man Who Lost Himself, the hero of the novel trails a man to Paris. He thinks he knows at what hotel the man is staying but is not sure. So, he devises a plan to find out without arousing anyone’s suspicion. He decides to give the hotel clerk his own name and ask if a man by that name is in the hotel. Then as the clerk checks through the register, he’ll watch over the shoulder for the other man’s name and room number. When he goes to the hotel and gives the room clerk his own name, to his utter surprise, the clerk doesn’t check the register. He simply says, “Yes, he is staying in room 40; he’s expecting you. I’ll have the bellhop take you to his room.” Well, the hero is flabbergasted, and he has no choice but to go, so he follows the bellhop to room 40. When he knocks at the door and it opens, he can hardly believe his eyes. There standing before him, is a man who is his exact double, except that he is greyer, and about twenty years older. The man turns out to be the hero himself, twenty years into the future. The story is pure science fiction, but it contains an important truth: there is a person out there in the future waiting for us, that person is we ourselves as we will be 10 or 20 years from now. The question is what kind of a person will we be then? What will our life be then? The future is in our hands; right now, only Faith will tell. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) Do not let Him find you sleeping: Augustine, a man in the 5th century who became Bishop of the church and a saint in history, originally lead a life of sin giving himself over to whatever pleasures presented themselves. His mother had earnestly prayed for him his entire life that he would give his life to the service of Christ, but Augustine persisted in his sins until one day he sat with a friend on a bench weeping over the state of his life. It was at this moment that he heard a boy or girl–he says he does not know which it was–singing a song. The sound was coming from a neighboring house. The child was chanting over and over: “Pick it up, read it; pick it up; read it.” Here is what happened next in Augustine’s own words: Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for their I had put down the apostle’s book. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.” I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” (Confessions,VIII, 12). Had Christ returned before that fateful day, Augustine would have been caught unprepared. He would have been found asleep. From that moment on, however, Augustine was prepared. He was on the alert! He had awakened from his sins. (Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com; quoted by Fr. Kayala). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
20) One day at a time.This phrase is a popular A.A. slogan. In researching this I came across this article. I imagine that this is the very first slogan that found its way into the original Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Can’t you just picture a frantic newcomer talking about how difficult he was finding sobriety? I can almost imagine the conversation: Newcomer: “What am I going to do? Next week I have to go to the office Christmas party – how will I ever stay sober there!” Old-timer: “Slow down! It’s not next week yet. Take it One Day at a Time! “And a slogan is born – because it’s got some real wisdom in it. For in truth, each one of us has only one day at a time – or one hour or one moment. In the first few rocky days of recovery, just abstaining for that moment, hour, etc. is truly all we can do. If we can’t do that, there’s no point in worrying about tomorrow, or next week, or whenever. The One Day at a Time philosophy has benefits far beyond the early days in recovery. It can keep us grounded in the present – that Holy Instant that is so easy to miss in a busy and productive life. Unfortunately, though, some in 12 Step Groups have taken the philosophy to mean we shouldn’t plan. This is patently false. A major promise of the Program is to restore us to sanity, and that includes planning. We need to set goals, make appointments, and design our lives. But planning doesn’t mean we have to leave One Day at a Time behind –the trick is to watch for expectations. (Derrick Tuper). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
22) Whispering God: There is a story told about a young man and an old preacher. The young man had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn. So, he went to see the old preacher. Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally, he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me. Tell me, Preacher, why doesn’t God answer?” The old preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply – something so hushed, it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say?” he asked. The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So, the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair. “Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.” With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more. “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so that we will move closer to hear Him.” This time the young man heard, and he understood. We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But God’s is the still, small voice… the gentle whisper. Perhaps there’s a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper. God’s whisper means I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. Then, as I listen, I will find my answer. Better still, I find myself closer to God. Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture Readings of today speak of God’s kindness and His saving presence amidst trials and afflictions. (Fr. Albrt Lakara). L/19 (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
“Scriptural Homilies”Cycle C(No. 41) by Fr. Tony:email@example.com
Visit this website: By clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visithttp://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.htmlfor the Vatican version of this homily and https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or under Fr. Tony or in the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text.