O.T. XXVII [C] (Oct 2) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/22)
Introduction: All three readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time speak a lot about “Faith” and how it works in our lives. “To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without Faith, no explanation is possible.” (St. Thomas Aquinas). It is this Faith that is the nucleus of all of our readings today. They give us three dimensions of Faith. The theological virtue of Faith enables us to believe something to be true and therefore worthy of trust simply because it has been revealed to us by God. In his instructions to Timothy, Paul, who elsewhere defined Faith as, “the assurance of the things hoped for,” shows Faith operating as a believing, trusting, loving relationship with Christ, Finally, Christian Faith is that trusting Faith in God in action, expressed by steadfast loyalty, fidelity and total commitment to Him, resulting in our offering ourselves to Him in those we encounter, through our humble, loving service.
Scripture lessons, summarized: The first reading presents Faith as trusting in God and faithfully living out His Covenant with us. Here, Faith is shown as hope and steadfast expectation in the face of suffering and delay. God assures the prophet that Faith gives us access to Divine power, and, hence, the just will live righteous lives in the midst of encircling evil because of their Faith. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 95), God is characterized as a sturdy rock and a caring shepherd, surely worthy of our trusting Faith. In the second reading, Paul presents Faith as our acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God. Paul stresses the need for a living Faith in, and loyalty to, Christ’s teachings handed down to us by the Church. Hence, Faith is belief in, and acceptance of, revealed truths based on the authority and veracity of God, and Hope is trust in God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his Apostles that Faith is sharing in God’s power, and, hence, even in small quantities, it allows God to work miracles in our lives and in the lives of others. It is Faith, meaning reliance on, or confidence in, God, which makes one just, putting him into right relation with God and neighbor. While the Apostles ask for an increase in the quantity of their Faith Jesus reminds them, and so us, that the quality of one’s Faith is more important than the quantity. A small amount of deep Faith can accomplish great things if that small amount of Faith is placed in a great, mighty, and all-powerful God. Using a master-servant parable, Jesus also teaches them, and us, that for Faith to be effective, it must be linked with trust, obedience and total commitment — an active submission to God with a willingness to do whatever He commands.
Life messages: 1) We need to thank God, giving Him the credit for our well- being. Most of us are inclined to forget God’s providence when our earthly affairs are going well. We pray to Him only when trouble strikes. In His Infinite Goodness, God often answers such prayers. Stronger Faith enables us to accept the adversities and the trials of life asking God, “Increase our Faith, Lord!” at all times.
2) We need to increase our Faith by becoming dutiful servants of God. We grow in Faith as we act in Faith. A sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor. A quiet word, a charitable gesture, an unselfish interest in a neighbor’s troubles can do more good than a series of sermons given by some renowned theologian.
3) We need to grow in Faith by using the means Christ has given us in his Church. We must cultivate our Faith through prayer, Bible study, participation in the Holy Mass (‘the mystery of Faith”) and leading a well-disciplined spiritual life.
Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Blondin, the French tightrope walker became world-famous in June of 1859, when he walked on a tightrope stretched over quarter of a mile across the mighty Niagara Falls. He became the first person to accomplish this amazing feat. He walked across 160 feet above the waterfalls several times, each time with a different daring feat – once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and once even carrying a stove and cooking an omelet! A large crowd gathered, and a buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the riverbank. The crowd “Oooooohed!” and “Aaaaahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across one dangerous step after another — blindfolded and pushing a wheelbarrow. Upon reaching the other side, the crowd’s applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: “Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?” The crowd enthusiastically shouted, “Yes, yes, yes. You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. You can do anything!” “Okay,” said Blondin, “Get in the wheelbarrow. ” The Blondin story goes that no one did although all had faith in his ability! Later in August of 1859, his manager, Harry Colcord, showed his faith in Blondin and did ride on Blondin’s back across the Falls. (https://youtu.be/nEHv1Rcn9YQ). In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to have such a Faith in him so that God can work miracles through them and in their lives. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) Pavarotti: My Own Story: Luciano Pavarotti was the charismatic successor of the legendary opera tenor, Enrico Caruso. In his autobiography, Pavarotti: My Own Story, he describes how he was trained by a great master, Arrigo Pola. “Everything Pola asked me to do, I did, – day after day, blindly. For six months we did nothing but vocalize and work on vowels.” Pavarotti worked hard under Pola for two and a half years and then worked just as hard under Maestro Ettore Campogalliani for another five years. Finally, after putting so much faith and trust in his mentors, Pavarotti made a breakthrough at a concert in Salsomaggiore in Northern Italy where he thrilled the audience and was catapulted into fame. This story about faith and trust leads us into today’s readings which focus on the same themes. As Luciano Pavarotti put his trust in his teachers, today’s Gospel instructs that we too must put our trust in our mentor Jesus Christ. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3) Little child’s Faith in action: When Southern author and poet Laverne W. Hall was asked her definition of Faith, she couched it in the following narrative. Summer sun and a lack of rain had left the fields parched and brown. As they tended their wilting crops, the townspeople worriedly searched the sky for any sign of relief. Days turned into arid weeks and still no rain came. The ministers of the local churches announced that there would be a special service to pray for rain on the following Saturday. They requested that everyone bring an object of Faith for inspiration. At the appointed hour, everyone turned out en masse, filling the town square with anxious faces and hopeful hearts. The ministers were touched to see the variety of objects clutched in prayerful hands; prayer books, Bibles, crosses, rosaries, etc. Just as the hour of prayer was concluding, and as if by some Divine cue, a soft rain began to fall. Cheers swept the crowd as they held their treasured objects high in gratitude and praise. From the middle of the crowd, one faith symbol seemed to overshadow all the others; a small nine-year-old child had brought an umbrella! Without speaking a word, the child enunciated that quality of authentic Faith which expresses itself in commitment. By bringing the umbrella, the child affirmed the fact that Faith is more than intellectual assent to a set of revealed truths or theological doctrines. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4)“Expecto patronum“ (For children’s Mass): Let us begin with Harry Potter in the magic novel, and the film based on it, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. One night in the misty moonlight of Hogwarts Castle, the evil dementors are closing in on Harry. The shadowy, hooded figures are trying to capture his soul. Harry has only one chance — use the “Patronum” magic spell. So, he summons every ounce of belief because the “Patronum” spell demands absolute faith in its power. Pointing his magic wand at the dementors Harry shouts, “Expecto patronum.“ (https://youtu.be/xlxxWFENWr8) The spell works. A silvery stag gallops forth, the dementors fall back. Harry Potter is safe because he had faith in the power of his magic word. Today’s readings ask us to have such a Faith in the power of God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Introduction: All three readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time speak a lot about “Faith” and how it works in our lives. They give us three dimensions of Faith. The theological virtue of Faith enables us to believe something to be true and therefore worthy of trust simply because it has been revealed to us by God. In his instructions to Timothy, Paul, who elsewhere defined Faith as “the assurance of the things hoped for,” shows Faith operating as a believing, trusting, loving relationship with Christ. Finally, Christian Faith is that trusting Faith in God in action, expressed by steadfast loyalty, fidelity and total commitment to Him, resulting in our offering ourselves to Him in those we encounter through our humble, loving service.
Scripture readings summarized: The first reading defines Faith as trusting in God and faithfully out His Covenant with us. Here, Faith is presented as trust and steadfast expectation in the face of suffering and delay. God assures the prophet that although “the rash one” that is one who does not believe, “has no integrity, “the just one, because of his Faith, will live” because he will lead a righteous life in the midst of encircling evil. Faith, then, is the foundation of faithfulness; and faithfulness strengthens Faith. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 95), God is characterized as a sturdy rock and a caring shepherd, surely worthy of our trusting Faith. This reminds us of St. Augustine’s advice to “pray as though everything depended on God and work as though everything depended on you.” The second reading explains why Faith gives us a new way of looking at things and a new way of living. Paul reminds Timothy, and us that Faith is our acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God. Paul stresses the need for a living Faith in, and loyalty to, Christ’s teachings, which have been handed down to us by the Church. Hence, Faith is belief in, and acceptance of, revealed truths, based simply on the authority and veracity of God, and Hope is trust in God. Faith not only enables us to be faithful; it also strengthens us to be courageous. Faith grows as we put it to use by obediently rendering humble service to God in others. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his Apostles that Faith allows us to share in God’s power, and, hence, even in small quantities, deep Faith enables Him to work miracles in our lives and in the lives of others. It is Faith which makes one just, putting him into right relation with God and neighbor. In the Bible, Faith means reliance on, or confidence in, God, and Hope is the expectation of a better future. While the Apostles ask for an increase in the quantity of their Faith, Jesus reminds them, and us, that the quality of their faith is more important. Using a master-servant parable, Jesus also teaches them, and us, that, for Faith to be effective, it must be linked with trust, loving obedience and total commitment — an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever He commands, even in tough times.
First reading: Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4, explained: Habakkuk was a minor prophet who lived during the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and encouraged his fellow Jews to retain their Faith during this disaster. He interprets Faith as a persistent confidence in God’s saving power. The first two chapters of the Book of Habakkuk are in the form of a dialogue between the prophet and God. The prophet repeatedly complains, and the Lord answers each time. Around 600 BC, God’s people had been unfaithful, and, as a deserved punishment for their sins, God permitted a pagan nation, Babylon, to invade Jerusalem. What distressed the prophet was that Judah’s punishment came at the hands of brutal pagans who were overly aggressive. It looked as if bad were being punished by worse. To Habakkuk, it seemed that the Lord God was strengthening the arm of injustice in not punishing the excesses of His people’s enemy. He saw this as unworthy of God’s holiness and justice. Hence, the prophet cried out to God, “How long, Lord, am I to cry for help while you will not listen? I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’–Yet you do not save.” But God told His prophet to trust in Him, to persevere and to be patient, because He was aware of both the goodness of the good people and the evil they fought against. The reading concludes with the positive answer from God: “The just man, because of Faith, shall live” [Hb 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38]. This means that that the righteous, or just, one is steadfast in faithfulness, even in the midst of violence and destruction, and this faithfulness assures life. Faith here is not simply assent to a series of doctrines, but includes trust, with a steadfast expectation of release in the face of suffering and delay. The just man lives because he keeps his relationship with God. The word “Faith” (emunah) used here refers to a living Faith, a Faith expressed in actions, a Faith with works (Jas 2:17, 26). Therefore, it can only be concluded that Faith without works is indeed dead. “Faith is compounded of belief and love as well as of trust and confidence amid trials and tribulations” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, page 297, # 39, 4b).
Second reading: II Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14 explained: Raymond E. Brown (An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, New York: 1997) suggests that 2 Timothy was written not long after Paul’s death as a farewell testament by someone very close to him during his last days. Therefore, these words of encouragement should be understood as part of an eloquent and passionate appeal by the greatest Christian apostle that his work should continue beyond his death through generations of disciples. Although Timothy had been groomed as Paul’s successor in the ministry, he had apparently grown disillusioned at the Christian community’s lukewarmness and was somewhat embarrassed by Paul’s current status as prisoner. Hence, Paul encouraged Timothy to persevere, stressing the need for a living Faith: “Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus.” The graces of ordination (which Timothy had received), include “power” to master every situation, self-sacrificing “love” expressed in affectionate service to the community, and the “self-control” essential for Christian leadership. The Deposit of Faith entrusted to him had to be handed on to the next generation, with Hope in, and Love for, Jesus Christ. Faith and love cannot be separated, and “Faith, Hope and Charity are the foundation of Christian moral activity. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being” (CCC #1813). In saying to Timothy, “I am reminding you to fan into flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you,” Paul was asking Timothy and his people to “get up and do something!” Paul urged Timothy and his community to cultivate thewillingness to tend and foster the gifts of Faith daily (“stir into a flame the gifts of God”) and to live bravely in the face of difficulty. Paul means both that the Faith proclaimed by the gathered assembly must continue to be spoken in personalized, daily words and works, and that Jesus who is encountered and celebrated at the weekly liturgy should also be recognized and cared for in the poor, the needy, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the lonely, and the oppressed. In other words, our Christian Faith is our bond with God and our communion with one another in the “fire” of Love, the Holy Spirit. We need to “fan [that small fire] into a flame” and keep it blazing. That takes grace, vigilance and effort. If we are really serious about our Faith, we will spend time with God in prayer, in reflection, in Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and in the prayerful reading of Scripture.
Gospel exegesis: The context: When Jesus demanded of his disciples that they respond with unconditional and unlimited forgiveness to their repentant offenders (vv 3-4), the disciples asked Jesus for more Faith so that they could meet this demand. In addition, the Apostles were asking for greater confidence and trust in God, so that they might work the miracles which they had seen Jesus perform, like the withering of a fig-tree by a simple command. Jesus responded by telling them of the power of Faith — even a very little Faith (vv 5-6). He used the parables of the mustard seed and the good servant to help them understand the need for strong Faith. Jesus tells us that the way we evaluate whether we are living by Faith is whether we are faithful in “doing all [we] have been commanded to do.”
a) The parable of the mustard seed: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed.” Faith is used here in three senses. 1) First, Faith means “trust.” People “have faith in their banks” because their accounts are insured. Similarly, we must put our trust in the authority of God and in the truth of His doctrines. St. Paul defines Faith as confidence and certainty (Hebrews 11:1). 2) Second, Faith refers to assent to doctrines about God taught by Jesus and the Church (e.g., our belief in the truths listed in the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed). 3) Third, Faith refers to a “bond” or “relationship,” with God. Jesus tells us that if we have even a small relationship with our Heavenly Father, we can do anything. No matter how weak it seems, Faith is an overwhelming power. Even a little dose of Faith can direct our lives, comfort us when we are discouraged and challenge us when we are complacent. Jesus did not ask the Apostles to move trees or mountains, but rather to forgive their repentant brothers and sisters. Such a requirement demands Faith, and the Apostles (representing all Church leaders), responded by asking that their faith be increased to meet such a demanding challenge. Jesus reminds them that it is not the greatness of their Faith, but rather the greatness of God’s power working through them that will move mountains (Mt 17:20; Mk 11:23). Forgiveness is a gift of God’s grace, activated through Faith. When a person of Faith is trustingly receptive to God’s power, all things become possible — even moving mountains or forgiving bitter enemies.
Faith strong enough to plant a tree in the sea: Planting a tree in the sea using words alone sounds impossible and ridiculous to us. But, using this cartoon metaphor, Jesus challenges us to attempt the difficult things of life. The tree Jesus mentions is a variety of large, deeply rooted mulberry tree that grows in the Middle East. By this strange example, Jesus shows us that we, too, can perform miracles. We must be ready to attempt things that the worldly, the wise and the sophisticated laugh at. Here are two examples. 1) A middle-aged mother went back to complete her teacher training. She specialized in helping children with learning difficulties. In a large school she worked with a class of what others called “the retarded.” Because she had actually asked for this difficult class, some teachers treated her as though she were insane. Wasn’t this truly “planting trees in the sea?” 2) A priest in Africa deliberately committed a small crime in order to get himself put in a prison where he could minister to those who needed him most. He was “planting a tree in the sea!” He had true Faith!
b) The parable of the Under-Appreciated Servant: This parable teaches that Faith requires action. It also gives us a lesson in theological Humility, reminding us that, as followers of Jesus, we are God’s servants. This becomes evident in the parable about the master who expects his servant to carry out his orders. When the servant returns from working in the fields, he also has housework to do. His master does not feel indebted to his servant for his fidelity in doing what is all part of his duty. In the same manner, the Apostles, and we, are expected to carry out the orders Jesus gives us. They, and we, are the servants of the Gospel. So, we can never feel that we have worked “enough.” We must regard ourselves as God’s servants, as did Jesus who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Service to God and neighbor is a voluntary or free act which springs from a generous and merciful heart. It is a sacred duty which we owe to God. When we serve the poor, we are simply serving at the Lord’s Table and waiting on Him while He eats and drinks. As we work for the Lord in Faith, He works in us, transforming us.
Jesus instructs his disciples to say, “We are unprofitable servants.” The New English Bible gives the correct translation: “We are servants and deserve no credit.” The Greek original suggests simply that these servants should not expect anything further, i.e., that they should not be looking for special attention or approval. We also must realize that our ability to lead a good life, to love other people, and to serve God is not our own doing. These things come from our relationship with God. Even when we forgive others, it is by the grace of God through Faith. He is our Source of power, and without His help we are useless servants. We acknowledge our bond with God as the source of our virtue. The stronger our relationship with God, the more will we be empowered to forgive others and do good to them.
Life messages: 1) We need to thank God, giving Him the credit for our well-being. Following the example of the Apostles, we must pray for greater Faith and trust in God. Most of us are inclined to forget God’s providence when our earthly affairs are going well. How often do we thank Him when we enjoy good health, or when our home-life and business are going smoothly? How many of us thank God for all the gifts we have received? We often attribute our good health to correct use of food and exercise. Often, we attribute our success to our hard work and intelligence. It is only when a storm arises in our life that we think of God. We pray to Him only when trouble strikes. In His Infinite Goodness, God often answers such prayers. If, however, we had thought of Him every day and realized His place in our lives, with how much more confidence would we approach Him in our hour of need? If our own personal lives were stronger in Faith, how much more readily would we accept the adversities and the trials that God sends us? This is why we must ask God today to “increase our Faith” at all times.
2) We need to increase our Faith by becoming dutiful servants of God. A zealous Christian can speak more convincingly to his or her neighbor about the need for God and an upright life through his or her own daily actions than through explaining religious doctrines. A sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor. A quiet word, a charitable gesture, an unselfish interest in a neighbor’s troubles can do more good than a series of sermons given by some renowned theologian. There are always people around us who need help. We can help them — God expects it of us. Faith is increased by serving others, not by being served. Faith is increased when we manifest our love towards others, our family, friends and strangers. When we isolate ourselves from the world, we lose our Faith.
3) We need to grow in Faith by using the means Christ has given us in His Church. We must cultivate our Faith through prayer, Bible study, and leading a well-disciplined spiritual life. Faith is the gift of God—so we must pray that God will increase our Faith. Time spent with God in prayer is fundamental to the development of Faith. We must pray for a Faith that is strong enough to overcome the difficulties and crises we face daily. In addition, association with people of Faith builds Faith. Hence, our participation in the Holy Mass (“the mystery of Faith”), and the life of the Church is important. Because of the Eucharistic Meal on the altar and the Sacramental graces at our disposal, we find that we are not unprofitable servants, but instruments and agents of Jesus, Who, through the power of Divine Love, helps us to reap a harvest worthy of Him. Sacred Scriptures inform and correct our Faith. Without the guidance of the Scriptures, our Faith tends to be weak. We grow in Faith as we act in Faith. Every gift of God is strengthened by the exercise of it. Someone has said, “Charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.”
JOKES OF THE WEEK: 1) Faith of a little boy: A little boy wanted $100.00 very much, and his mother told him to pray to God with Faith. He prayed and prayed for two weeks, but nothing turned up. Then he decided perhaps he should write God a letter requesting the $100.00. When the postal authorities received the letter addressed to God, they opened it up and decided to send it to the President. The President was so impressed and touched that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a check for $5.00. He thought that this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy. The little boy was delighted with the $5.00 and sat down to write a thank-you letter to God, which ran as follows:” “Dear God: Thank you very much for the money. I noticed that you had to send it through Washington. Dad said that, as usual, they deducted $95.00 for themselves in the name of ‘Homeland Security’ to save our country from terrorists.”
2) Faith of a little girl: “Whales can’t swallow people,” the teacher said. “Even though they are large mammals, their throats are very small.” “But the Bible teaches us that Jonah was swallowed by a whale,” the little girl replied. “My mom says Bible is God’s words, and it must be correct.” “That just can’t be,” the teacher said. “It’s physically impossible.” “If so, when I get to Heaven, I will ask Jonah,” said the little girl. The teacher looked down at her, smiled and asked, “What if Jonah went to Hell?” The little girl replied, “Then you can ask him yourself when you get there.”
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (For homilies & Bible study groups
1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/featured-homilies/ (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)
2) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s beautiful & scholarly video classes on Sunday gospel, Bible & RCIA topics: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant20663)
3)Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies
4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/
5) Agape Catholic Bible Lessons: http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/
6) Scriptural evidence for Catholic doctrines: http://www.scripturecatholic.com/index.html
7) Faith magazine: http://faithmag.com/
8) The Official Vatican Website: http://www.vatican.va, (Documents, photos etc.)
1) “Give me a lever, long enough, and a place to put it on, and I will move the world?” Was it Archimedes, the ancient Greek scientist, who said, “Give me a lever, long enough, and a place to put it on, and I will move the world?” What a claim! Surprising of course. Theoretically, the claim of Archimedes is perfectly sound. But evidently, in the physical world, it may seem an impossibility. However, in the spiritual realm, it is definitely possible. For, there is such a lever, and it is called ‘FAITH’; there is a place to put it on, and it is called ‘GOD’; and there is a power that can swing that lever, and it is called ‘MAN’. Another claim we also find in the Gospel Reading of today from St. Luke: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”Is it really true? Can it really happen? Today’s readings answer those questions. (Fr. Lakra). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) “Is anyone else up there?” The story is told of a man who fell off a mountain cliff. Half-way down the cliff he succeeded in grabbing the branch of a tree. There he was, dangling on the branch, unable to pull himself up yet knowing that letting go of the branch he would definitely fall to his death. Suddenly the man got an idea. He looked up to Heaven and shouted, “Is anyone up there?” A voice came from heaven, “Yes, I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe in Me?” The man shouted back, “Yes, Lord, I believe in You. I really believe. Please help me.” The Lord says, “All right! If you really believe in Me, you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Now let go of the branch.” The man thinks about it for a moment and then shouts back, “Is anyone else up there?” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3) All the fresh water you could ever need: A man was lost in the desert and was near death for lack of water. Soon he came across a pump with a bucket hung on the handle and a note. The note read as follows: “Below, you will find all the fresh water you could ever need, and the bucket contains exactly enough water to fill the pump to start it working.” It takes GREAT FAITH to pour out the whole content of the bucket for a promise of unlimited water. What would we do? Jesus demands such a Faith. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4) “Be cast into the sea.” The October 5th, 1988 issue of Christian Century carried the story of a couple who have found a meaningful way of expressing their Faith. Millard Fuller was a successful lawyer. But he was dissatisfied. He had it all, and he decided he had virtually nothing. One day he decided to do something about it. He and Linda, his wife, walked out of the law practice, sold all their possessions, gave the money to the poor, and joined Clarence Jordon at Koinonia Farms, a Christian Community outside Americus, Georgia. Together with other Christians of the community, they searched for a focus for their lives that would have meaning. Eventually, they established an organization that has come to be called Habitat for Humanity. You have read about them. President Carter worked with them, pounding nails. The wonderful idea is simply, in Millard Fuller’s words, that “all God’s people ought to have simple, decent, affordable housing.” So they work along with others, find some poor, decent folk who are willing to work to better their situations, and they work along with them to build a simple, decent house to live in. And when they are done, these folks have a house at a cost that is affordable. Habitat for Humanity is having a remarkable impact on people all over this country. It is miraculous how homes, hundreds of homes, are being built for families who need and deserve such housing because this couple put their Faith into action. The result has been nothing short of miraculous. It is comparable to saying to a tree, “Be cast into the sea,” and a moment later there is nothing but a hole in the ground. (Dr. Norm Lawson). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) “Just do it.” The sales manager of a large Real Estate firm was interviewing an applicant for a sales job. “Why have you chosen this career?” he asked. “I dream of making a million dollars in Real Estate, like my father,” the young man replied. “Your father made a million dollars in Real Estate?” asked the impressed sales manager. No,” replied the young man. “but he always dreamed of it.” Have you ever noticed that the Bible never mentions the dreams of the Apostles? It doesn’t even mention the ideas of the Apostles. However, it devotes an entire book to the Acts of the Apostles. Some of the most impressive commercials on television have been the Nike shoe commercials with the theme, “Just do it.” These commercials have normally featured famous athletes, such as Bo Jackson, to get their message across. These commercials carry a good message for all of us, not just for people who are physically challenged. However, if the people at Nike think they invented the phrase, “Just do it,” they might be surprised to find that they are a few thousand years late. In Ezra 10:4 we read, “Be of good courage and do it.” (Or, we could translate it, “Just do it.”) This is, in effect, the answer Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him to increase their Faith. He said, “Just do it,” to paraphrase him in today’s language. This is a curious answer to a request for more Faith. “Just do it.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6) “Mr. Jeremy Bentham, present but not voting.” There are people with lots of Faith who still contribute very little to God’s kingdom. They are like a man Ernest Fitzgerald tells about in his book, Keeping Pace. The man was a wealthy English philanthropist named Jeremy Bentham. In his will, Mr. Bentham bequeathed a fortune to a London hospital on whose Board of Directors he had sat for decades. There was, though, one peculiar stipulation. Mr. Bentham’s will read that in order for the hospital to keep the money, he, Jeremy Bentham, had to be present at every board meeting. So, for over 100 years the remains of Jeremy Bentham were brought to the board room every month and placed at the head of the table. And for over 100 years in each secretary’s minutes was a line that read: “Mr. Jeremy Bentham, present but not voting.” Two-thirds of the world and 50 percent of all Church members will not even roll out of bed on Sunday morning. They don’t need more Faith. They just need to roll out of bed. [Michael B. Brown, Be All That You Can Be (Lima, Ohio: CSS Publishing Company, Inc., 1995), pp. 55-56]. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
7) “We are doing the best we can.” I read an amusing tale recently about a group of French prisoners of war during World War II. These prisoners were forced to work in a German munitions factory. Upon realizing that the very bombs they were building were being used to destroy their beloved homeland, they made the decision to create a malfunction in the devices that detonate the bombs. The bombs were designed to explode on impact. But with the changes that the prisoners made, the bombs were “harmless ” – no explosion occurred. Puzzled by so many failed attacks, the French government finally conducted an investigation. Upon opening the bombs, they found slips of paper inside bearing these words: We are doing the best we can with what we’ve got, where we are, every chance we get. [Jay Strack, Everything Worth Knowing I Learned Growing Up in Florida (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993).] That would be a good motto for the Church. We can pray until we are blue in the face for God to give us more Faith, but God wants us to get into action using the Faith we already have. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
8) “Fr. John, I figured out the meaning of life!” Father John Dear tells about a friend of his who died several years ago from cancer. She was a very lively, outgoing person, says Father Dear, who worked in two big parishes in Long Island, New York and was very involved in many good causes, including the struggle to abolish the death penalty and nuclear weapons. Just before she died, she said to him, “John, I figured out the meaning of life!”
He said, “Really?!”
She said, “When you’re a child and a teenager, you serve. When you are in your twenties and beginning life and starting a family, you serve. When you are in your thirties and forties, you serve. When you are middle age, you serve. When you are in your sixties and seventies and starting to retire, you serve. When you move into your eighties and start to slow down, you serve. When you get sick, you serve. When you are dying, you serve. On your last day, as you die, you serve.” (http://www.johndear.org/sermons_homilies/welldoneservant.html). That’s true. You serve. Without fuss. Sometimes it’s with very little recognition and not a lot of glory. It’s only when you pass over to the other side, to be received into the arms of Jesus that you hear those ultimate words of commendation, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come, share my joy.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
9) “There is an angel in there” One day the great Michelangelo attracted a crowd of spectators as he worked. One child in particular was fascinated by the sight of chips flying and the sound of mallet on chisel. The master was shaping a large block of white marble. Unable to contain her curiosity, the little girl inquired, “What are you making?” He replied, “There is an angel in there, and I must set it free.” Every Christian at his or her Confirmation is handed a large cold white marble block called religion. We must then take the mallet in hand and set to work. Religion is not our goal, but we must first start there. Now, there are many names for religion. At times we do call it religion, but we often use other words and images to describe it. Sometimes we call it our Faith. Jesus spoke in terms of the Kingdom of God. We say we are the Church, Christians, or Disciples. There are many names with varying nuances of meaning but in the end they all describe the same thing. We are a people of Faith, Faith in Christ to be sure, but Faith nonetheless. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
10) “I am coming home. Nobody wears shoes here.” Many years ago, a famous shoe company sent one of its salespeople to a faraway country to start a business. After a few months he sent back the message: “I am coming home. Nobody wears shoes here.” The same company sent another salesperson to the same backward area. After a few months she sent this message to the home office: “Send more order forms! Nobody wears shoes here! Hence, I can sell more shoes.” The second salesperson saw the opportunity in her situation – not the difficulty. She succeeded because she had faith in her product, faith in the people and faith in her ability to canvass customers. Today’s readings tell us that if we have a little Faith – even the smallest amount – in God’s power, which He is glad to share with us, then we’re on the right track. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
11) Mountain-moving Faith: An old woman regularly read the Bible before retiring at night. One day she came across the passage that said: “If you have Faith as little as a mustard seed and ask the mountain to go away, it will go.” She decided to test the efficacy of the passage. There was a hillock behind her house. She commanded the hillock to go away from there and went to bed. In the morning she got up as usual and remembered her command to the hillock. She wore her spectacles and peered through the window. The hillock was there. Then she muttered to herself, “Ah! That’s what I thought.” – What she thought was that the mountain would not move. While her outer mind gave the command, her inner mind was convinced that she was giving a futile order. She did not have even an atom of Faith! (G. Francis Xavier in The World’s Best Inspiring Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
12) I believe…At the end of World War II, it is reported, the Allied soldiers were searching farmhouses for snipers. In one abandoned house, which was almost a heap of rubble, they had to use their flashlights to get to the basement. On the crumbling wall, they spotted a Star of David. It had obviously been scratched by a victim of the Jewish Holocaust. And beneath it was the following message in clear but rough lettering: “I believe in the sun -even when it does not shine. I believe in love – even when it is not shown. I believe in God – even when He does not speak.” -Like the Holocaust victim who had inscribed those uplifting words on the basement wall, Mother Teresa believed in the sun-even when it did not shine. She believed in love -even when it was not shown. And she believed in God -even when God did not speak. In her secret and personal letters Mother Teresa revealed that for almost 50 years, she went through what is best described as “the dark night of the soul,” driving her to doubt the existence of Heaven and even God. Said a Jesuit priest, Fr. James Martin, “I have never read a saint’s life where the saint has had such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented.” Like all of us, Mother Teresa was but human. And it is only natural that we, like her, will experience times of doubt, loneliness, dryness and even denial. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” (James Valladares in Your Words O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
13) Be careful in whom you place your trust! Before modern radio and television became so sophisticated, a telephone operator used to get a call every afternoon asking for the correct time. She was always able to give this information with great confidence. The reason for this was that she always checked her watch, and adjusted it when needed, when the whistle blew for the closing time in the local factory. One day her watch stopped. The telephone rang inquiring for the correct time. She explained her predicament. Her watch had stopped, and she had no way of ascertaining the correct time until the factory whistle sounded some time later. The caller then explained his predicament. He was calling today, as he had done every other day, from the same local factory, and he had always adjusted his clock, when necessary, to agree with whatever time it was in the telephone exchange. -Be careful in whom you place your trust! (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
14) Mustard-seed Faith: You have heard of Dorothy Day, a woman many considered a living saint. Many admirers came to visit her, to have a look at her, to cherish her, to speak to her, to touch her, if possible. Sometimes they would tell her, “You are a saint,” or she would overhear others saying of her, “She is a saint.” She would get upset, turn to the speaker, and say, “Don’t say that. Don’t make it too easy for yourself. Don’t escape this way. I know why you are saying, ‘she is a saint.’ You say that to convince yourself that you are different from me, that I am different from you. I am not a saint. I am like you. You could do what I do. You don’t need any more than you have; get kicking, please.” -A mustard seed is very tiny; there is a chance of losing it if it is not handled carefully. Likewise, Faith: if it is not handled carefully there is a chance of losing it. We have to feed Faith. Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. (Zech 4:10) Let us look at the Bible. Against a towering giant, a brook pebble seems futile. But God used such a pebble to topple Goliath. Compared to the tithes of the wealthy, a widow’s coins seem puny. But Jesus used them to inspire us. Moses had a staff. David had a sling. Samson had a jawbone. Rahab had a string. Mary had some ointment. Dorcas had a needle. All were used by God. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
15) Accusing God: The year is 1965. The place is a synagogue in Russia. The Jewish writer Elie Wiesel, who survived Auschwitz concentration camp as a boy, is attending the service. His eyes are fixed on the old rabbi who is praying and sighing as though in a trace. An ancient, bewildering sadness seems to come from the old man; he appears to be living elsewhere, resigned to all that has happened. Wiesel has a mad thought that the rabbi will shake himself, pound the pulpit, and cry out his pain, his rage, his truth. In his heart he addresses the rabbi: ‘Do something, say something, free yourself tonight and you will enter our people’s legend; let the hushed reality buried inside you for so many years explode; speak out, say what oppresses you – one cry, just one, will be enough to bring down the walls that encircle and crush you’. My eyes pleaded with him, prodded him. In vain. For him it was too late. He had suffered too much, endured too many ordeals for too many years. He no longer had the strength to imagine himself free. So nothing happened. Nothing interrupted the rhythm of the solemn service. Wiesel was hoping that the old rabbi would find a voice to express suffering, that he would name the anguish that fidelity to God can bring. Suffering can deaden boldness of spirit; but it can also give the sufferer a liberating madness to become God’s accuser. And Judaism, which Pope St. John Paul II has called “our elder brother in Faith”, has given us a tradition of boldness in dealing with God. It is the boldness of Faith which dares to scream at God. (Denis McBride in Seasons of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) Blame-game without trusting in God: There is a humorous story of an updated piece of advice to a new pastor. On his very first day in office, this new pastor got a call from his predecessor. He congratulated him on his new charge and told him that in the centre drawer of the desk in the office he had left three envelopes, each numbered, which he was to open in order when he got into trouble. After a short-lived honeymoon with the congregation, the heat began to rise and the pastor decided to open the first envelope. The note inside read, “If it will help, blame me for the problem. After all, I am gone and have new problems of my own.” That worked for a while, but then things went bad again. The pastor opened the second envelope, which read, “Blame the congregation. They have a lot of other interests. They can take it.” That worked for a while, but then the storm clouds gathered again, and in desperation the pastor went to the drawer and opened the third envelope. The message read, “Prepare three envelopes!” (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen! (Quoted by Fr. Botelho).(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
17) Mustard seed-size faith: Dirt carpeted the floor. Rats scurried beneath the grated vent. Roaches roamed the walls and crawled over sleeping prisoners. The only source of light peeked through three holes near the fifteen-foot ceiling. The cell offered no bunk, no chair, no table, and no way out for American General Robbi Risner. For seven and one-half years, North Vietnamese soldiers held him and dozens of other soldiers in the Zoo, a POW camp in Hanoi. Misery came standard issue. Solitary confinement, starvation, torture, and beatings were routine. Interrogators twisted broken legs, sliced skin with bayonets, crammed sticks up nostrils and paper in mouths. Screams echoed throughout the camp, chilling the blood of the other prisoners…. How do you survive seven and one-half years in such a hole? Cut off from family. No news from the United States. What do you do? Here is what Risner did. He stared at a blade of grass. Several days into his incarceration he wrestled the grate off a floor vent, stretched out on his belly, lowered his head into the opening, and peered through a pencil-sized hole in the brick and mortar at a singular blade of grass. Aside from this stem his world had no color. So he began his days with head in vent, heart in prayer, staring at the green blade of grass. Today’s Gospel calls it a mustard seed-size faith. [Max Lucado, Every Day Deserves a Chance (Thomas Nelson Publications, 2007). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
18) “I can’t see you:” During the terrible days of the Blitz, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran from a building that had been struck by a bomb. In the front yard was a shell hole. Seeking shelter as quickly as possible, the father jumped into the hole and held up his arms for his son to follow. Terrified, yet hearing his father’s voice telling him to jump, the boy replied, “I can’t see you!” The father, looking up against the sky tinted red by the burning buildings, called to the silhouette of his son, “But I can see you. Jump!” The boy jumped, because he trusted his father. The Christian faith enables us to face life or meet death, not because we can see, but with the certainty that we are seen; not that we know all the answers, but that we are known. (Donner Atwood). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) “There is an angel in there and I must set it free.” One day the great Michelangelo attracted a crowd of spectators as he worked. One child in particular was fascinated by the sight of chips flying and the sound of mallet on chisel. The master was shaping a large block of white marble. Unable to contain her curiosity, the little girl inquired, “What are you making?” He replied, “There is an angel in there, and I must set it free.” Every Christian at their confirmation or conversion is handed a large cold white marble block called religion. We must then take the mallet in hand and set to work. Religion is not our goal, but we must first start there. Now there are many names for religion. At times we do call it religion, but we often use other words and images to describe it. Sometimes we call it our Faith. Jesus spoke in terms of the Kingdom of God. We say we are the Church, Christians, or Disciples. There are many names with varying nuances of meaning but in the end they all describe the same thing. We are a people of Faith, Faith in Christ to be sure, but Faith nonetheless. We are not a business or institution. We do not sell or produce anything. We advocate no earthly cause. We serve no worldly authority. We come to a Church building made by men. And to do what? Practice our Faith. (Fr. Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
20) “Is it something to make soup of?” A legend says that once upon a time, a Japanese peasant died and went to heaven. The first thing that he saw was a long shelf with something very strange looking upon it. “What is that?” he asked. “Is it something to make soup of?” “No,” was the reply. “These are ears. They belonged to persons whom, when they lived on earth heard what they ought to do in order to be good, but they didn’t pay any attention to it. So, when they died their ears came to heaven, but the rest parts of their bodies did not.” After a while, the peasant saw another shelf with very queer things on it. “What is it?” he again asked. “Is that something to make soup of?” “No,” was the answer. “These are tongues. They once belonged to people in the world who told people to do good and how to live good but they themselves never did as they told others to do. So, when they died, their tongues came to heaven, but the rest parts of their bodies could not enter.” Then, again the peasant roamed around heaven and he saw another shelf. “What is it?” he asked again. “Is it something to make soup of?” “No,” was again the answer. “These are hearts. They once belonged to people who enthusiastically preached about love, how to love others and be loved. But they themselves did not practice it. So, when they died their hearts came to heaven, but the rest parts of their bodies did not.” Is this what we want to have happen in our own life? Maybe yes, maybe no. But the sure thing is this will happen to us if we do not move and act. Well, our Gospel today talks about Faith. Jesus’ apostles ask Him: “Increase our faith.” And Jesus answers: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Fr. Benitez) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
21) With the strength that comes from God: St. Paul’s young friend and disciple, Timothy, gets a wonderful “pep talk” in today’s first reading. The Holy Spirit, says Paul, gives us the gift of courage, not the vice of cowardice. So we should never shrink from bearing our share of “hardship which living up to the Gospel entails.” And we should never be ashamed to praise God to others.
The Joseph P. Kennedy family of Hyannisport needs no introduction to Americans or to the world. They have had a host of admirers and a host of foes. But nobody can deny that this Irish-American family has assumed leadership courageously. And their mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, has clearly had a lot to do with setting for them an example of courage.
When Rose Kennedy, long a widow, reached the age of 93 in 1983. A reporter for Parade magazine interviewed this woman of strong convictions and strong practical Catholic faith. Rose, the interviewer knew very well, had known tragedy as well as glory. If most of her sons and daughters had made headlines, she also had one daughter under permanent institutional care. She had lost not only her husband, but her oldest son, Joe (in war), her daughter, Kathleen (in an air accident), her sons, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy (at the hands of assassins). But Rose had marched ahead despite her many griefs, and she still marched off to Mass each morning. “I would rather have been” she said, “the mother of a great son than to have written a great work or painted a great masterpiece.” This is a forthright acknowledgement of the creative role of a mother in God’s plan. Admitting her trials to the interviewer, she said “I have always believed that God never gives a cross to bear larger than we can carry. No matter what, God wants us to be happy. He doesn’t want us to be sad. Birds sing after a storm, Why shouldn’t we?” That first sentence was an echo of St. Paul. The last four sentences are pure Rose Kennedy, a deeply Christian reflection. If a secular journalist flattered me with an interview, would I make a point of speaking God’s praises? I really wonder, and just wondering makes me ashamed. (Fr. Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
22) I always feel terrible when I hear this “Mustard Seed” parable (Lk 17:5-10)! My faith will never be so strong as to physically transplant trees. You are misunderstanding the purpose and intent of this parable. Indeed, if the “goal” is always to go around “testing” our faith by commanding trees to be uprooted, one of two things will happen. Either we will experience a gigantic deforestation situation, or we will have a lot of unhappy people who think their faith level is demonstrably ‘zilch’! Jesus loves to use exaggeration to make a point, a common literary device in every culture of every age. You will remember an example used by Jesus in the gospel five weeks ago (hate your father and mother, wife and children, etc…, Lk 14:26). We call it “hyperbole,” and use it regularly (e.g., “It’s raining cats and dogs”). It is legitimate to use if what it describes is really true. The “truth” is that even though the Mustard Seed looks so tiny and powerless, compare that seed with the effect its planting will bring after a few years! Faith is like that: it may seem powerless, based on an image of a dead man on a cross. But it will produce incredible results when we live that faith and share that faith, because that dead man on the cross rose from the dead, and is our Salvation! Change is always possible, because His dynamic Spirit dwells within us. It is a power so strong that it can be compared to a person telling a tree to be transplanted into the ocean! So simply do your daily Christian duties, including sharing your faith, and let God take care of the growth. (Fr. Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
23) “Unworthy servant.” When St. Francis de Sales was nineteen years old he fell seriously sick. At that time, 1587, medical students practiced on cadavers (corpses) which were generally stolen from graves. Thinking he was dying, Francis told his favorite teacher: “Sir, arrange my funeral as you see fit. I ask only that after my funeral you give my body to medical students.” “But that would be a disgrace to your family,” objected the tutor. The young saint insisted: “It is very consoling to me as I lie dying, to think that I have been a useless servant during life. I will at least be of some good after death.” Here was a learned and holy young man who felt that he had accomplished nothing. All the saints were like that. They called themselves, in the words of today’s gospel: “Unworthy servants.”(Msgr. Arthur Tonne). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/22
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C(No. 53) by Fr. Tony:email@example.com
isit my website by clicking on https://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. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website: https://www.cbci.in. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604