2017-09-10, 23rd A, Our Father’s Priests

Homily 09-10-17
23rd Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 5:30, 8:30 and 11:30am Masses
Ez 33:7-9; Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Rom 13:8-10; Mt 18:15-20

(Scriptures included after homily)

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Since June, I’ve often been asked, what it’s like to be the father of a priest.  It’s not really something we run across every day.  But if we think that’s special, just imagine what it would have been like being the Mother of God.  Or better yet, imagine actually being a Child of God yourself!

I guess we all know, that when we were baptized in the faith, that’s exactly who we became: Children of God!  In my book, that’s a whole lot more special than just being the father of a priest.

But, OK, maybe that doesn’t really answer the original question.  So let me give you an example of what it’s like to be the father of a priest.

Last weekend we went to our niece’s wedding in Connecticut.  We took our daughter Gina, who lives here in Columbia.  Our daughter Christie came with her family from Cincinnati, Ohio.  And our son, Fr. James, joined us from Virginia.

Saturday night, my wife Mary Ann mentioned that we needed to find the Mass times for the local Church.  And in the background, I heard Jamey chuckle and ask, “Why?”  Then he added, “Because, I can do that.”

So there we were, on Sunday morning, having Mass, in our own little, Connecticut hotel room.  With ages ranging from 1 to 65 and relatives from PA, TN, OH and VA, besides MO, we truly were God’s diverse and beautiful Body of Christ.

So what’s it like, having a son who’s a priest?  It’s actually pretty awesome!  But you know what?  It’s not a whole lot different than being the parent of a doctor or a nurse, a teacher or a store clerk, because, besides being our children, they are ALL Children of God, whether they realize it or not.  And that relationship between child, parent and God, binds us all together, no matter what our kids do for a living.

Jesus said, “Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  He certainly was there in that little hotel room, last Sunday;  just, as He IS right here with all of us today, and really, any time we gather to share His Word, or a prayer, or a meal together – in His Name.

And you know what?  I’ll tell you a little secret . . .  There, in that Connecticut hotel room, last Sunday; there, some 1200-miles away from Columbia, Missouri; there, in the presence of Jesus and our little, diverse, family community, all of You were in our prayers as well; because we are ALL family; and that’s what being the Body of Christ is all about.

Jesus said, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.”  You see, there’s a binding here, brothers and sisters; an unbreakable bond that goes beyond all time and distance.

Together with Jesus, we are bound with all the saints of the ages past.  We are bound with our friends and relatives who have passed-on ahead of us.  We are bound with the poor, the oppressed and the deserted Christians around the world.  And we are even bound with those who are yet to be born!

You see, together, we are bound in holiness and destined for eternity, where time and space, body and soul are FUSED into One!

And if any One of us ever becomes lost;  if any One of us ever falls away from our community in error or sin, God gives all the rest of us a calling.  Just like Ezekiel, we are called to be “the watchmen” for our brothers and sisters.

And yet, it’s even more than just a calling.  It’s a responsibility; a responsibility that comes with severe consequences when it’s not carried out.  It just reminds me of the story of Jonah, and his inescapable call, as the Watchman over Nineveh.

Today Jesus gives us a step-by-step procedure on how a Christian is supposed to correct and reconcile a strained relationship.  He tells us how we are supposed to fulfill this responsibility and calling as God’s watchmen.  And St. Paul reminds us of the driving force that we’ll need in order to accomplish that call.

We might say, that it’s just like a car.

If we want to get from point-A to point-B, we need the wheels to roll.  And, in order for the wheels to roll, we need the drive shaft to turn.  And in order for the drive shaft to turn, we need the pistons to pump.  And the pistons will only pump when gasoline is fed into a chamber, where an EXPLOSION occurs: a driving force.  And unless all of those actions happen in concert with one another, that car won’t move an inch.

So, in order for us to reconcile the lost back to God; in order for us to be ABLE to follow the plan that Jesus described for reconciliation; we need an explosion in our souls a driving force!

And that explosion, as St. Paul tells us, is called: LOVE!  It’s not called jealousy or greed.  It’s not called bigotry or vengeance, or lust.  The only explosion that can bring about reconciliation, where someone has either hurt us or others, is LOVE!

And the only way we can maintain that constant explosion of Love in our souls, is through our persistent communion with the Holy Spirit:

  • By participating in Mass;
  • By frequently partaking in the Sacraments of Confession and
    the Holy Eucharist;
  • By keeping in touch with Jesus through prayer and our community,

we can feed our souls so well that the explosions within us will drive us to Love: even the unlovable.

And, you know what?  In God’s eyes, there IS no such thing as “unlovable.”  And it’s through God’s eyes that we truly learn how to see.

When we can learn to see through God’s eyes; when we can let the Love of the Holy Spirit drive our thoughts and our actions; instead of defensively reacting with hatred and vengeance to those who hurt us, we just might see their pain, and their hurt, and their emptiness.  And with God’s boundless Mercy, and Charity, and Compassion, we can bring to them the healing that only God can offer.

And when that happens, we will have won our brother or sister back home!  And in the process, we’ll find that:

We areOur Father’s priests;

We are His Physicians of the soul,

We are God’s Watchmen.

This is our Calling.  This is our Responsibility!
And to the Glory of God our Father,
and our Lord Jesus Christ,

This – is our Salvation!

jmp 09-10-17

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 09-10-17
Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
, A

First Reading:  Ez 33:7-9

Thus says the LORD: You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.

If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ” and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.

But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.

 

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.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

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.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, 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.”

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Second Reading:  Rom 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Gospel:  Mt 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.

If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.

If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

 

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