2017-11-05, 31st A, Coming Home

Homily 11-05-17
31st Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Mal 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10; Ps 131:1, 2, 3; 1 Thes 2:7b-9, 13; Mt 23:1-12

(Scriptures included after homily)

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If you ever went back to the place where you grew up, after being away for a long time, you’d find that it’s never quite the same as you remembered.  Either the surroundings of your quiet country home became a bustling metropolis, or the happy city neighborhood that you grew up in became a  dangerous slum.  And everything you saw just seemed so much smaller than you remembered.

It brings to mind two overly used, but very true clichés:  “You can never go back home” and “Home is where your heart is!

And you know what?

From Grandma’s homemade lasagna to playing with a couple dozen cousins every weekend, the memories really can be replayed, just like virtual reality, anytime we want, right there in our own minds.

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But lest we get lost in the world of our own nostalgia, let’s fast-reverse back to the time of Malachi the Prophet, whose identity was unknown, but whose name revealed him as: “The Messenger.”

Somewhere about 550 B.C., after waves of Jews had returned to Jerusalem; having been freed from their exile in Babylon and Assyria, they, also, found a home that was totally different from anything their parents had described, some 40-or-more years earlier.

Their land of “milk and honey” had become a barren wasteland.  And their lives had suddenly become much tougher than anything they had ever experienced in captivity.  As an example, we can picture the cultured, aristocratic Europeans trying to settle in the rustic American West, back in the 18th Century.

In both cases, it was all very discouraging, especially when the Jews imagined that the awesome God of their ancestors would miraculously make running water and high-rise buildings magically appear, and they never did!

And to make matters even worse, Malachi found that the Priests, who were supposed to be encouraging the Jews and keeping them on track with respect to God’s directions, those Priests were discouraging the people even more, and actually leading them AWAY from God.

Did you ever have a boss, or a governor, or a president who made your life, your company, or your country even worse than it was before they were there, when he or she was supposed to be improving it?

You see, the problem is that when the leaders themselves break the laws; when the laws begin, ‘Not to matter’ any more; when no-one is there to say, “NO! That’s not right,” from parents to teachers, policemen and presidents, and even preachers; then, we begin on a journey down a slippery slope, into a hole that becomes very difficult to climb back out of.

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Jesus came Home to the Paradise that He and His Father had Created.  And instead of finding the Love and the Compassion that they had planted; Instead of finding Leaders and Teachers who were concerned about the well-being of their students, He found a world so entrenched in greed that they would KILL – before stepping down from their pride;

And then, they would disguise any threat to that pride, as the world’s problem, and blame it on the ones they killed, the ones who no longer had a voice.

People would follow the masses, even though they knew, or refused to believe, that the masses were sliding down into a bottomless pit.

And they would teach their children to blindly follow those masses as well: to wear their clothes and to disrespect their authority by passing off their parenting responsibility to the internet, or the television, or the movies and the media; all along, forgetting about, or being directed to forget about – the God who created them and loves them, all the way to the grave and beyond.

You know, probably the hardest thing we can possibly do in this worldly life of ours, is to let go of the pride that’s keeping us from experiencing our full potential as Children of God.

You see, God fully equipped those Jews who returned to Jerusalem, with the wisdom and the capability to build a Paradise that was even more magnificent than the one that their parents had left behind.

And THAT was the Miracle!

It’s NOT how TALL we can stand in front of others, but how LOW we are willing to stoop in order to enter somewhere even better!

And in just the same way that God equipped those Jews, He equips us: parents and children, priests and parishioners, with the wisdom, and the courage, and the humility to stand up to a world, a country, a company, a school that forgot its roots.

And where do we find that Wisdom?
– It’s in those Ten Commandments,
– It’s in the Beatitudes,
– It’s in our own hearts and in our minds, because we have received it through the Holy Spirit in our Baptisms.  And we continue to receive it through Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

And just as those Jews were called to humble repentance and courageous leadership by Malachi their Messenger, we too are called – by Jesus – to humbly bring God’s Love back into our world, and to make it – The Home – that God intended it to be!

jmp 11-05-17

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 11-05-17
Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time
, A

First Reading:  Mal 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10

A great King am I, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.  And now, O priests, this commandment is for you: If you do not listen, if you do not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts, I will send a curse upon you and of your blessing I will make a curse.

You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instruction; you have made void the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts.

I, therefore, have made you contemptible and base before all the people, since you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your decisions.

Have we not all the one father?  Has not the one God created us?  Why then do we break faith with one another, violating the covenant of our fathers?

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 131:1, 2, 3

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty; I busy not myself with great things, nor with things too sublime for me.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O Israel, hope in the LORD, both now and forever.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Second Reading: 1 Thes 2:7b-9, 13

Brothers and sisters: We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children.  With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.

You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.  Working night and day in order not to burden any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.

Gospel: Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.  Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.

For they preach but they do not practice.  They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

All their works are performed to be seen.  They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.  They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’

As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’  You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.  Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.  Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ.

The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

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