2016-08-07, 19th C, Treasures

Homily 08-07-16
19th Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 8:30 Mass
Wis 18:6-9; Ps 33:1,12,18-19, 20-22; Heb 11:1-2, 8-19; Lk 12:32-48

(Scriptures included after homily)

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In our Gospel reading last week, Jesus warned His disciples and the people not to store up temporary, material treasures (like money or physical possessions), but rather, to store up eternal and spiritual treasures (like the virtues of faith, hope and love, for example).

This week we hear WHY!

Jesus said,
“For where your treasure is there also will your Heart be.”

You see, if we set our hearts on something that will unquestionably disappear, breakdown, get stolen, or turn against us, then we are setting our hearts up to be broken.  And Jesus doesn’t want any of us to have broken hearts, if we can avoid it; because the more our hearts get broken, the less we begin to believe in anything.  And the less faith we have in anything or anyone, then the more we turn inward toward ourselves; until one day we realize, that even we, ourselves cannot be trusted, because we will all, eventually die.  It can happen whether we’re young or old, rich or poor, whether we’re an athlete or an invalid.

So what’s the answer?
And where can we find some concrete things that we can do, or not do, to help.

Well, God has given us a whole Book of answers.  And depending on our situation, there’s a pretty good chance that we can find someone in the Bible who has survived the same ordeal that we are going through, if not worse.  And for the sake of time, I won’t review ALL those examples now, but you can browse the Book at your leisure to see what’s there for you.  And for those of us who feel like, we’re really struggling, you might start with one of my favorites, the Book of Job.

Now, coming back to the Scriptures we heard today, it was pretty obvious that they all had something to do with faith.  You see, faith is the requirement that allows us to transition from the material to the spiritual.  In order to move from what we can see and touch, to what is invisible or unknown, we have to have faith.

And yet, faith is not just believing in something invisible or unknown, it’s proving that belief through our actions.  As St. James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Js 2:26

We heard the example of Abraham in our Second Reading.  Abraham had such strong faith in God, that he was willing to physically sacrifice his own son, for his Love of God.  The writer of Hebrews calls it “a symbol,” because that’s exactly what God did, through Jesus for His Love of us.

And most of us, who are parents, know that we would be equally willing to give our lives for our children.  The trick then, is to transition that faith, that love from their physical lives to their spiritual, eternal salvation, because it’s not Pokemon Go, it’s not  texting, it’s not pregnancy – as an inconvenience that can be fixed, and it’s not even Cardinals that will get us to heaven.  And getting to heaven IS our ultimate goal, our homeland, and our treasure.

“And where our treasure is, there also will our hearts be.”

I once knew a guy who would walk miles to Mass every Sunday.  He would stand in the back of the Church with the K.C. ushers and kneel at the consecration, following their example.

He didn’t understand the Latin, he didn’t listen to the readings, and he was always the first one out the door, before that final blessing.  You see, it was just – not his treasure, because none of it made any sense to him.

And yet, something drew him back there every week.  We might even say that it was faith that drew him back time after time, because he was obediently acting on an unknown calling.  And this continued for 40-years.

Then one day, at the very lowest point in his life, when every one of his earthly treasures seemed to have fallen apart, he happened to pick up a Book that changed his life forever.

It was a Love Story!
And he was in it!
The Bible.

And suddenly there was understanding, as all of the little mysteries of the Mass began to make perfect sense.  It was a ‘wrapped up treasure’ that he was holding in his hands for his entire life, but never imagined what was hidden inside.  It was the treasure of Eternal Life, that was given to him by Jesus.

And every time He participated in the Blessed Sacrament, he was one step closer to his true home.  You see, God was using him to construct a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, and it was IN his heart.

It was a new beginning.

And he understood that like all new beginnings, there would be new responsibilities.  Jesus said, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

And he could not, just sit there, keeping this Treasure to himself.

And neither can we . . .

jmp 08-07-16

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 08-07-16
Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, C

First Reading:  Wis 18:6-9

The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.  Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes.  For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.  For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Exult, you just, in the LORD; praise from the upright is fitting. Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Second Reading:  Heb 11:1-2, 8-19

Brothers and sisters: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.  Because of it the ancients were well attested.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.  By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. 

By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age – and Sarah herself was sterile – for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.  So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.  They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.”  He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Gospel:  Lk 12:32-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.  Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.  And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”

And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property.  But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful.

That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.  Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

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