2013-10-06, 27th C, The Pity-Party

Homily 10-06-13,
27th Sunday Ordinary Time C
Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4; Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14; Lk 17:5-10

(Scriptures included after homily)

Did you ever get in one of those ‘pity-party’ moods?  You know, when everything seems
to be going wrong: the whole world is a disaster, nobody loves you, you can’t seem to find God anywhere, and you just want to curl up and die.

You see, the Prophet Habakkuk was in one of those states in our first reading, as he cried out to God, “How much longer do I have to wait?

I think it happens to all of us, from time to time.  And then our brain kicks in, and we think to ourselves, “Well if I were to die, I would much rather go to Heaven, than to that other place.  But am I really ready to go to Heaven?  From what I understand, you have to be pretty perfect to get into Heaven.  You know, we’ve heard all that stuff about sheep and goats (Mt 25:31-46), narrow gates (Mt 7:13-14), and forgiveness, grace and faith.

But then we remember, that someone once said, that our God is supposed to be a loving and merciful God.  And we think again, “that I can’t really be all that bad.  Can I? And yet, if I’m not bad, maybe nobody else is either.

And then it struck me like a bolt of lightning:  “How am I going to feel, and what am I going to say in Heaven, when I run smack-face-to-face into one of those old bosses, who so ruthlessly fired me?  Who threw me out into the street with nothing?

What am I going to say to the husband who left me, or the thief who robbed me, or the prankster who burned my house down, or the father who beat me?”

You know, if God is so loving and merciful,
He probably loves them as much as He does us.
And who knows, over all this time,
maybe they’ve changed for the better, too.

So maybe we’re really not quite ready for Heaven or death just yet, if we can’t even
face those people with a clear conscience.

But then we get to thinking, “Well, you know what, that old Grim Reaper could just as well come knocking at my door at any moment; maybe on the way home from Church, or next week, or next month; it could all be over!  So we had better get to work on this forgiveness thing, and pretty quick.

And after our brain is totally strained from all that thinking, we finally get to the point of talking out loud.  And the first thing we do, is thank God for cell phones, because we know that the world won’t think we’re crazy for looking like we’re talking to ourselves.  And we say, “You know what, God?  All this being perfect stuff is really not that easy!  So we’re asking you, here and now, to please increase our Faith in you.

And you know what, brothers and sisters in Christ, that’s exactly what the disciples asked too.  “How can I possibly ever be that perfect?”  And of course, Jesus responded, as usual, with a parable.

He said, in Deacon Joe’s paraphrase:  If you’re a plumber, or a school student, or a mom taking care of her kids, there are certain things that you just have to do.  It’s your responsibility, your obligation.  And you are expected to do your very best with them.

Now that doesn’t mean that you might not get sludge in the face, or an unexpected pop quiz, or a screaming, sick kid, all in a day’s work.  But it does mean that just because the day is done, it’s not necessarily over.  You may still have to fix an emergency leak, or cram for another test, or tend to that sick kid, all night long.

You see, what Jesus was saying, is that the reward of Heaven is not something we can earn with a checklist that gets easier with a little more faith.  And having accomplished our checklist, at the end of the day, if we think that God OWES us the reward of Heaven, then in reality our own pride will be our downfall.

At the end of the day, if the couch blinds us from the emergency page, or the last minute review for a test, or the cries of a little child, that homeowner just might drown, or that test might be failed, or that child might die because we placed our faith on the wrong thingWe placed it on ourselves instead of on God.  And that’s what a pity-party is all about.

You see, faith is not about ‘getting to Heaven.’ 

Faith is about moving mountains when they’re crushing down on our shoulders.

Faith, as St. Paul encouraged Timothy, is about self-control, and power, and love, and forgiveness.

Faith, as God explained to the Prophet Habakkuk, is about integrity and patience.

Faith is about
constantly keeping our Focus on God
and not on ourselves.

You see, beloved, faith is about knowing, without a doubt, that Jesus Christ will see us through whatever the mountains in our lives might be: with the strength of the Holy Spirit, with the nourishment of the Blessed Sacrament, and with the support of our community of His love.

And when we can come to understand this, then it’s our job, our obligation, our mission, as baptized Catholics to take that faith, and glorify the Lord with every moment of our lives.

And you know what? 
Then Heaven will come looking for us!

jmp 10-06-13

Scripture Readings for the Mass of 10-06-13
Twenty-seventh Sunday, Ordinary Time C

First Reading: Hb 1:2-3; 2:2-4

How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen!  I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene.  Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?  Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.  Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily.  For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
O, that today you would hear his voice: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.”

Second Reading: 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14

Beloved: I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.  So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

Gospel: Lk 17:5-10

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”  The Lord replied, “If you have 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.

“Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?  Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat.  Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.  You may eat and drink when I am finished’?  Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?  So should it be with you.   When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’


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