October 22, 2017

A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” –  10/22/17  – SMG

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

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  It’s not such an outrageous question to ask.    We are at the end of October.  In just a few weeks, we’ll be beginning Advent.  I started just the other day.  I bought two presents.  It’s time to start thinking about these things.  Why is it, when we go to buy presents for others, it’s such a challenging thing?  We buy things that we like to use all the time.  So why is it so hard sometimes to buy the right gift for our family and friends?  Well, it is different if it’s going to cost us.  We don’t like to give away what we have.  We like to keep what belongs to us.  And many times, that’s the very root of greed.  There’s a part of us that doesn’t like to buy presents for others.   We don’t like to pay taxes.  We don’t necessarily like to tithe, and give of our time by volunteering, or even share our gifts and abilities.  We don’t like to share, even though we know it is what we must do.   There’s a part of all of us that finds it challenging to be generous, maybe even challenging to be responsible, when it, responsibility, comes with a cost.  And perhaps, that’s what makes this Gospel passage so intriguing to us.

Is this Gospel really about greed and generosity?  Not really.  But it what Jesus uses to draw us into this situation, and what the Pharisees use to try to entrap Jesus, is interesting to all of us.  We don’t want to give away our money.  The Pharisees think that they have found the perfect situation to catch Jesus.  Either way He answers, He’s in trouble.  Or so the Pharisees think!  Jesus doesn’t give the either of the answers that His inquisitors are looking for.  He tells them to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to give to God, what belongs to God!  The paying taxes thing goes right out the window.  What Jesus emphasizes the giving to God what belongs to God!

And what does belong to God?  Well, everything else!  This is what the Pharisees don’t get or understand.  And it is certainly not the way that they are living their lives.  From God, we receive everything that we are and that we have, except sin.  We do that one on our own!   And so, if paying to God what belongs to God means anything, it must mean putting God first in our lives.  Are we putting God first in our lives?  Or does He get the leftovers?  Our spare time, if we have any?  Or our spare change, if we have any of that?  Or our gifts and talents that we have leftover, when we are finished doing the things that we want to do!  And so, when we think a little more about this, our greed and our generosity are caught up in all of this!   Who or what do we make the priority in our lives?  That’s a hard question to anwer!

Jesus understood, and taught, that we, all of us, must give God the first fruits of our labor.  The grateful giving of our first fruits reminds all of us that everything we have comes from God, in every area of our lives!  So there can’t be sectioned off areas of our lives where God is second, or third, or not allowed at all.  God want us all of us, the whole thing, sometimes, the whole mess!  He wants to be Lord and God of it all!  Will we let Him?

The great Truth that we don’t talk near enough about, is that when we do put God first in our lives, we discover something really amazing!  We find time and time again that what is left over for ourselves is always enough, ultimately more than enough.  We don’t have to worry about running out or not having enough.  We can give and give and give.  And it feels good.  And it is good.  Our God will never be outdone in generosity.  May our giving to Him, what belongs to Him, help us to figure that out!

+_  And may God bless us,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                      AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…                                                   Pray for us !!!