2016-09-04, 23rd C, Choice: In God – In Me

Homily 09-04-16
23rd Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Wis 9:13-18b; Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17; Phmn 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25-33

(Scriptures included after homily)

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If we could be truly capable of loving God, of loving Jesus, to the extreme of renouncing every possession, every desire – BUT God;  then IN God, who is in all created things, we would become ONE in the possession of All Creation.

One in love, as we possess: the poor and the rich, the saint and the sinner, the parent, the spouse and the child.  One in love, as we possess: the fool and the genius,  the destitute and the rebel, the butterfly and the whale, the hurricane and the earthquake – all in the love of Jesus.

And the amazing thing is, that each and every one of us has been given this capability of love.  And it’s our choice, whether we use it, or not, and when.

Today Jesus confronts the crowds following Him, and us, to make that choice, NOW.  The question is: “What’s holding us back?”  “And why are we waiting so long?”

Sixteen Hundred years ago, St. Augustine shared his anguish in making that choice, when he wrote this love letter to God:

“Late have I loved You,
O Beauty, so ancient and so new;
Late have I loved You.

 For behold, You were within me,
but I outside;

 and I sought you outside,

 and in my un-loveliness,
I rushed headlong for those lovely things
– that You had made.

You were with me,
but I was not with You.

 I was kept from You by those things,
yet, had they not been in You,
they would not have been at all.

You called, shouted, and broke through my deafness:

Your beams of light shone upon me and chased away my blindness:

You breathed Your fragrance upon me
and I drew my breath,
and now I pant for You:

I tasted You and now
I hunger and thirst for You:

You touched me and now
I burn for Your peace.

When at last I cling to You with my whole being,
there will be no more anguish or labor for me,
and my life will be alive indeed,
because I will be filled with You.”

“The Confessions” Book 10, Ch 27 (397 ad)

Sometimes that choice of Love can take years of unrecognized brokenness, as it did for St. Augustine.

Sometimes we might be cast into a situation that forces our hand, like the choice that Philemon had to make – in renouncing the possession of his slave Onesimus, all for the love of Jesus.

And sometimes we’ll ponder and we’ll calculate the pros and the cons, the successes and the failures, in order to make our “informed” decision.  And yet, the writer of the Book of Wisdom asks us “Who can search out the things of heaven?”

You see, in this worldly life, all the holy saints died, and some, even quite horribly.  And yet, all the famous and rich atheists died as well.  And both groups suffered the pains of disease and old-age, the losses of loved ones, and even – bodily loneliness.

So it’s not human life, nor possessions of wealth – that give us the answer to choosing God.  Because it’s well documented that the path of worldly life always comes to an end, a dead end . . .

Unless!

Unless, something so mysterious and so beautiful, that we call Faith, draws us TO this Love of Jesus, this Love of God.  And it may not come to us through the ritual, and it may not come to us through the prayer.  But it will come in our Choice to Love.  Our choice to Love God – above all!

Jesus tells us that following Him will not be easy.  It will take some sacrifice, some giving up of the cushy things that make us comfortable.  And this is what Jesus means by “carrying our crosses.”  It’s not just dealing with our day-to-day pains and struggles.  Even the atheists can do that.  It’s doing things that are uncomfortable for the sake of building up God’s Kingdom.

And that is exactly what our newly canonized, St. Teresa of Calcutta did with her life.

She stepped out of the comfort of home to enter the Convent.

She stepped out of the safety of the Convent to enter the streets,
where the poor and the criminals lived.

She endured and overcame the resentment and persecution that  her loving care created, all in the Name of Jesus . . .

– Believing, in Faith, that what Jesus promised was True.

– Believing that there really is more to life than just what we see and feel . . .

– That death is not a brick wall, but a door, and the handle is on our side!

If we choose to live our lives committed to this Love for God, this Love for Jesus, beyond any and all earthly possessions.

If giving is more of a priority in our lives than receiving, then God will reward us with little miracles in this life, and a huge One in our life to come.

Jesus proved that Truth by His own Resurrection.

The question is, “What is it, that’s holding us back, from making that Choice of LOVE?”

jmp 09-04-16

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 09-04-16
Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, C

First Reading:  Wis 9:13-18b

Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends?  For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans.  For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?  Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?  And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 90:3-6, 12-17

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You turn man back to dust, saying, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You make an end of them in their sleep; the next morning they are like the changing grass, Which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours; prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Second Reading:  Phmn 9-10, 12-17

I, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus, urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment; I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.

I should have liked to retain him for myself, so that he might serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.

Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord.  So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Gospel: Lk 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’

Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?  But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.

In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

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