A HOMILY FOR THE THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 11/05/17 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and Goodness to you this day!
Following his gold medal victory at the Rome Olympics in 1960, a brash, young heavyweight boxer from Louisville, Kentucky, came back home to start his professional boxing career. He had amazing success from the very beginning. Unfortunately, for as good of an athlete that Muhammad Ali was, his pride and arrogance were oftentimes even more well-known. There was no doubting his ability in the boxing ring. But his aggressive personality and prideful arrogance led many, both inside and outside the boxing world, to dislike him. Muhammadi Ali invented “trash talking”. And he was good at it. All of this pride and arrogance got summed up in his catch-phrase, “I am the greatest!” This was Ali’s mantra for the vast majority of his career. And he was a great boxer. But it was his mouth, just like for so many of us, and his arrogance, that made him a lot of enemies along the way.
Time has an amazing way of teaching all of us the truth. And Muhammad Ali was no exception. The years he lived, the history that he saw in the 1960’s and 1970’s and 1980’s, and the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, that robbed “The Champ”, as he had come to be called, of his ability to speak, all mellowed the man, who used to call himself “The Greatest”. In his later years, he passed out pamphlets to crowds, that began with “God is the Greatest.”
We all know about arrogance. We may never have achieved the level of arrogance that Muhammad Ali did, but then maybe if we had become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, as many times as he did, maybe we would have been worse that he was. We can all be pretty prideful. All of us. Malachi, in our first reading today, gives some harsh words to the priests about pride and arrogance. Malachi warns the priests to give God the glory, or else God will turn their blessing into a curse. It is with a very similar concern that Jesus warns the crowds about the scribes and Pharisees. “Do and observe all things whatsoever that they tell you, but do not follow their example.” Wow! Those are strong words! Can you imagine how you would feel, if you heard Jesus say that about you! The scribes and the Pharisees are not giving God the glory. They are taking it all in for themselves, and they are doing very well, by the way, for themselves. They like the glory! But they are bringing a curse on themselves, just as Malachi predicted.
Our readings today are about our false gods. And these readings go right back to the First Commandment, “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have false gods before me.” And at first, maybe we laugh off the idea that we worship false gods. We think of the Israelites dancing around the golden calf. And we think, well, we’d never do that! But the reality is, that we do have false gods today: power, fame, wealth, pleasure, independence! Perhaps our most dangerous idol? It’s the one we see when we look into the mirror! We don’t want to let God be God in our lives, because we don’t want Him to take the job away from us! There’s something within all of us that struggles mightily the notion of God being in charge of our lives. And it is all caught up in that determined sense that “nobody is going to tell me what to do.” Let me ask you, how’s that working out for you? How’s that working out for our world? My brothers and sisters, isn’t it time, that we quite playing God, and the real God be in charge of our lives? We are our own worst, false gods. And it is killing us! And it is getting some of us sent to hell.
We need to let God be the Greatest in our lives. We need to let Him be in charge. How do we do that? Best place to start is with prayer. Get down on your knees and give Him the honor and the glory and ask for His help every day, in everything. That’s where you start! Remember, every time we pray the “Our Father”, we say “Thy will be done.” Not our will, but His. We must keep going back to a mindset of humbly seeking and following the will of God in our life. No matter how different it might be from our own will. That’s the humbling of ourselves that Jesus is calling us to, today. This Gospel is about so much more than just being called teacher, or father, or master. This isn’t about titles. This Gospel is about who is in charge of our lives. And if God isn’t in charge, then we’ve got a problem. For God, you see, IS THE GREATEST!!! And we need to remember that.
+ May God bless us as we live out our Faith, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!