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Fr. Tim's Homily
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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 4, 2016


Traducir al Español

          The CCD teacher asked her eight eager 10-year-old students to hold up their hands if they would give $1 million to the missionaries.  The response was great.  All of their hands went up immediately and they shouted, “Yes!” Their arms were raised again when she asked them, “Would you give $1000?”  She tried again: “How about $100?” and their arms waved like all trees in the winds.  Then the teacher asked the final question: “Would you give just a dollar to the missionaries?”  Again the students exclaimed, “Yes,” except for one of the boys.  He remained silent and lowered his arm.  The teacher asked him, “Why didn’t you say ‘Yes’ this time?” “Well,” he stammered, “I actually have a dollar.”  We want to be disciples of Jesus, but some of us are not willing to renounce all of our possessions.  Put another way, we may practice our faith only as consumer Catholics literally – I am here only to receive the Eucharist – but don’t expect me to renounce those things that prohibit me from being a good disciple of Christ.


          In yet another difficult Gospel reading to hear and to understand, the Lord wants to give us a grace that exceeds even the love of family members. The reflection from the Magnificat helped me to understand better the message. The kind of detachment that Jesus calls for in the Gospel today creates the desire that disposes us to receive all that God is eager to give us.  And this detachment demands total and complete focus on the Kingdom of God.  Jesus gives many descriptions of the Kingdom of God and how it is present here when we: share with those in need by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, supporting the ministries of the church through sharing our time, talent and treasure, and most especially by loving as Jesus loved us – actively and with mercy and forgiveness.  It is so easy to get our priorities so askew and to focus on those things really trivial and miss the big picture. We hold on to hatred and unforgiveness, and remain paralyzed in our ability to be better disciples. 


 And part of being a disciple is to carry our own cross.  The mystery of suffering is the most difficult mysteries of all to understand.  Sometimes we think that we deserve the suffering as if God inflicted it upon us for some sin or sins we have committed; that is not to say that some sins have consequences for example when we have lost the trust of those we love.  But Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it.  Sometimes we think that if we live a good life as a good disciple, Jesus will save us from suffering.  He never promised that to His Apostles, but the exact opposite – “The Chalice I will drink (of crucifixion),  you too will drink from.”  May all of us train the eyes of our hearts to know that Jesus is with us in our suffering.  Jesus knew intimately the whole gambit of human suffering.  His death was untimely and horrific.  He is with us when we lose family members in untimely and horrific ways.  Someone once said: “Christ did not come to end human pain and suffering – but to fill it with his presence.”