August 14, 2016

A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME –  CYCLE “C” – 8/14/16  – SMG

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

I have a good buddy of mine who is a small business consultant.  I like to tease him, because the guy is six foot, four!  He’s not a small business consultant, he’s a very tall business consultant, who specializes in small businesses.  He always looks at me like I’m from Mars every time I say that.  But as a business consultant, he doesn’t work at one place for very long.  Usually, when he gets hired, they bring him in either because the business is growing or changing in some major way, or else the business is in real trouble and is about to close.  He works more with businesses that are growing or changing than he does with businesses that are in trouble, because most of the time, when a business is in real trouble, they can’t afford his services.  But it is my friend’s job to come in, and to honestly tell the business owners what the problems are, and to offer solutions to improve the situation.  Now, how do you think that that goes over most of the time?  Many times, the truth hurts.  The truth is not easy.  Many times the truth means sacrifice and change, and most of us don’t like sacrifice and change.  It would be a very difficult job.

Being a small business consultant would be a lot like being a prophet.  In our First Reading today we hear some more about the Prophet Jeremiah, and today young Jeremiah is in trouble.  The Jewish leaders have thrown him into a deep, muddy well and left him to starve today.  How mad, how angry do you have to make someone to get them to throw you into a muddy well to starve to death?  Jeremiah had told the truth.  The Jewish people had sinned and abandoned God, and were in big trouble.  And Jeremiah called them back.  And for telling them the truth, they wanted to kill him!

Today in our Gospel, Jesus also tells us the truth.  And, if we’re honest, this Gospel makes all of us feel uncomfortable as we hear these words.  Jesus’ words today don’t seem to fit with the rest of the story.  Where’s that Prince of Peace Jesus?  Where’s the Teacher Who said “Blessed are the Peacemakers!”?  Where’s the gentle and kind Jesus who healed the sick and gathered little children around Him?

So what’s Jesus telling us today?  His words are meant to shake us up, to challenge any notion that being a Catholic Christian is comfortable and predictable and easy.  Today Jesus is telling us the truth.  It’s not always going to be Kumbaya and Coffee and Donuts after Mass!  Instead, being a Catholic Christian today may mean that we find ourselves at odds with many of those who are closest to us.  The life of Jesus challenges us to believe in Him and to radically love one another, and believe me when I say, that is a very narrow path in the world we live in today!

The letter to the Hebrews, in our Second Reading today, reminds us that Christ Himself had to suffer, and endured the shame of the Cross.  We are urged to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we run our own race, and let go of all sin, that weighs us down.  We know that Jesus endured terrible opposition from those who did NOT believe in Him, or follow His way.  We must expect the same!  The world is NOT going to treat us any better than it treated Him.  In fact, it will probably treat us worse!  That’s the truth!  We can’t be naïve here.

And why does belief in Jesus cause us to be divided from much of the rest of the world?   It is because the difference between a life in the world and a life in Christ strikes to the very heart of who we are!  The world tells us that we should be the center of our own lives.  Faith tells us that Christ needs to be the center of all things, and calls us to center our lives on Him!

We must answer this call every day to be one of those who might no longer live for themselves, but only for Him!  There is no comfortable compromise, then.  We must choose to be on one side of the divide or the other.  Others will make their choices and so must we.  Our choice will determine whether we lock ourselves in a cold, little world of our own making, or stand with Jesus, persevere with Jesus, and set the earth on fire!

+  May God bless us this week as we strive to live the truth,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…      AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…               Pray for us !!!