A HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “B” -JULY 29TH, 2018 SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
When we come to Mass each Sunday, many of us, Okay, most of us, probably do NOT know what the Gospel reading is going to be, before we get here. The Church would like us all to read all three of the readings in advance, but if we’re honest, most of the time, most of us don’t. That’s the great thing about having to write a homily each Sunday for the readings, it makes me read the readings before hand. And prayerfully think about them in depth. Now, sometimes, I can tell you what the readings are going to be for next Sunday. And that’s because we are following the Gospel along, each Sunday, so that we can get the whole story. But what if I told you, that today, I can tell you what our Gospel at Sunday Mass is going to be, for the next five weeks? You might think that I was some sort of liturgical prophet or that I could predict the future when it comes to the Mass, or maybe you would just think that I had too much time on my hands, that I was reading five weeks in advance! Well, none of those things are true. However, today I can tell you what our Gospel reading is going to be for the next five Sunday. It’s John chapter six. And you might say, “Hey, Fr. Kevin, we’re not reading St. John’s Gospel this year, we’re reading St. Mark!” How many of you would say that to me? Well, that’s true. But you see, there’s a problem with St. Mark’s Gospel. It’s short. It’s really short. And so, as we get to the middle of the liturgical year, every Cycle “B” of our Sunday readings, the Church throws in John chapter six, to kind of even things out a bit. And so, that’s what we are going to be reading for the next five weeks. This happens every third year. We’ve been through this before, and it will happen again three years from now.
Now, St. John’s chapter six is a masterpiece! It is THE most important chapter in the Bible of all four Gospels, that talks about the Eucharist. Because of this, many other Christian denominations just routinely skip over this chapter, because they have decided that they don’t believe in the Eucharist. They usually say that they BELIEVE in the Bible. They just don’t want to believe in THIS part of the Bible, because then they would be Catholic. This chapter of St. John’s Gospel is extremely important for us as Catholic Christians! It reminds us how powerful, how radical, how extraordinary the Eucharist, the Mass, and the Bread of Life really is!
Chapter six starts out with the feeding of the five thousand, or the Multiplication of the Loaves. And this is an awesome beginning! Jesus takes a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, that He stole from some kid’s lunch, and Jesus feeds five thousand people with it! What a great story! It’s one of Jesus’ greatest miracles! And with this miracle, Jesus is pre-figuring, that’s what our theologians call it, He is pre-figuring the feeding of all of us, the Church down through all the ages, with the Eucharist, with His Body and His blood.
Now this all sounds great, doesn’t it? I could preach on the Multiplication of the Loaves for hours. Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to do that. But there is a problem here. The next five weeks are going to get a little tedious, as we read the rest of St. John’s chapter six. What do I mean by that? It gets really repetitious. And what do I mean by that? It gets a little boring. Trust me on this. I have preached on the Bread of Life for five weeks straight. In fact, I’ve done it several times with all of you! And for those of us who have to preach on this, for the next five weeks, it gets extremely difficult to talk about the Bread of Life that much. And for all of you have to hear it, it’s not the easiest thing to listen to either.
What I’d like to do for the next five weeks, is talk about a different part of the Mass each week, to help us to better understand why the Eucharist and the Mass are so important.
Today, I’d like to talk, just real quick, about the Gloria, or as it is really called Gloria in Excelsis, or Glory to God in the Highest! You know, every Sunday, except in Advent and Lent, at the beginning of the Mass, we usually sing this beautiful hymn of praise to God, called the Gloria. The beginning of this prayer, we stole from the angels in St. Luke’s Gospel, chapter 2, verse 14. This is the song that the angels sang outside of Bethlehem, when Jesus was born. The Gloria has been around from the 3rd century. And you thought I was old. It came from the Church in the East, and was brought to the Church in the West, by St. Hilary of Poitiers. At first used at Mass only on Easter, and then expanded to Christmas and other important holy days, by the 12th century, it is used throughout the Church on all Sundays and major feasts, except during Advent and Lent. The Gloria is meant to be a hymn and to be sung. But the prayer is so important, that if it can’t be sung, it can be recited. The Gloria is said to be the perfect prayer of praise of our God! It is placed immediately after the penitential rite of the Mass, where we tell God that we are sorry for our sins, so that the Gloria raises us up, and reminds us, that no matter what our sins are, God is greater, and most merciful, and worthy to be praised!
Reflecting on the Gloria, how do you praise God in your life? How do you give honor and glory to God every day? Doesn’t it have to be more than a hymn or prayer at Mass on Sundays and other feast days? Sure it does! So how do you praise God? Certainly, our gratitude and thanksgiving are a great start. We should be grateful to God every day! But how do we show it? How do we praise God with our lives every day? That’s our challenge.
The Gloria is a great song of praise! We rejoice in a God Who loves us! Every time we sing it or pray it, we should be filled with joy and gratitude! But that can’t be the only time we praise God.
We’re going to keep looking at the important parts of the Mass and their relevance in our lives, over the next five weeks. Come back next Sunday and we’ll talk about some more.
+ God bless you, today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!