August 21, 2016

A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “C” –  8/21/16  – SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!  Peace and goodness to you this day!

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to meet up with some friends of mine in Chicago.  And since I got there a little early, and I hadn’t gone to Mass that day yet, I decided to look up this little church in downtown Chicago that wasn’t far from our Hotel, and go to their Noon daily Mass.  When I got to the church, there was large building right next door, that was some kind of plumbing supply company.  As it happened, the plumbing supply company was having some kind of celebration that day, and was offering free hot dogs, chips, and a drink to everybody who stopped by.  The line for the free hot dogs was over two-and-a-half blocks long!  Now, it was just a little before Noon.  Right next to it, was this Catholic church.  The front doors were open.  But there was no line to get in.  I walked straight in the front doors, no waiting, and there were about two dozen people inside for the daily Mass.  Another guy walked in the church with me, and he asked me, “Is this where they are giving away the free hot dogs?”  And I said, “No, that’s over there, next door.”  That day at Mass, we had this same Gospel reading that we have today from St. Luke.  And the long line for the free hot dogs, compared to the no-line for daily Mass, was a stark example of what Jesus is talking to us about in this Gospel.

Today, Jesus is encouraging all of us to strive to enter through the narrow door!  There will always be more popular options.  Everybody likes free hot dogs, and potato chips, and Pepsi. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people ate their lunch at that plumbing supply company.  Jesus is asking us, today though, to raise up our desires to the real things that last forever, to the things of Heaven!.  We must learn to love the things of Heaven!   And even if everybody else is choosing to go some other way, Jesus is asking us to choose to go His Way.  It is a narrow door.  Some day, everybody is going to want to go to Heaven.  The problem with that is that right now, they don’t want to know, love, and follow Jesus!  A day is coming when it will be too late, for the great multitude of people to enter through the narrow door.  Many are going to miss out!  Many people will never, ever, be able to understand and to “get” what’s being offered here.  And yet, what God is offering us is something that is so much better.   You know, when I came out of that Mass that day, and saw the line still going on for blocks, it was for free lunch.  Inside that church, God was offering, also free, by the way, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of His Son, Jesus, the food of Heaven!  Why wasn’t there more of a line to get into that church for noon Mass?  Don’t get me wrong.  I like lunch.  I make it a priority to try to eat lunch every day.  But why can’t we, as God’s people, seem to understand, or to “get”, what’s going to last and what’s going to get us home to Heaven?   We must go to the narrow door.  Jesus is THAT door.  We must love Him and follow Him and He will get us where we most want to be.  It will never be the popular thing, but that’s only because so many don’t know what they are missing.

How do we enter through the narrow door?  How do we make sure that when we knock on Judgment Day on the gates of Heaven, that they are going to let us in?  We do it by following Jesus!  There is no better measure of our following Jesus and loving Him than by our imitation of His love and mercy.  Most especially in this Year of Mercy, we are called upon to focus on the seven corporal works of mercy:  Feed the Hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Shelter the homeless, Visit the sick and imprisoned, and Bury the dead.  These aren’t real popular activities today either.  Most of us, would rather have lunch than do most of these things.  And yet, if we are really going to follow Jesus’ way, if we really want to be known in Heaven as Jesus’ follower, than the seven corporal works of mercy are NOT an option, but a necessary way of living our lives!

This week, in the next seven day, what would happen if all of us picked one of the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, and did it for somebody?  We might choose to donate to a food pantry, or work in a food pantry, to give away some of our clothes that we no longer wear, or take the time to visit the sick or someone who is lonely.  Maybe it is as simple as sending someone a card.  But let’s all try to do something THIS WEEK to enter through the narrow door.  Let’s take the time now to serve the Kingdom of God, before it is too late!  It might be more popular to see the latest movie, or go to the popular concert, or to go eat lunch at the newest restaurant.  Take the narrow door.  It will lead you to Heaven!

+ May God bless us as we follow His Son,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                               AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…               Pray for us !!!