Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, (June 15, 2008) Mt. 9: 36 – 10:8
“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” Jesus was a healer par excellence and now he passes this commission on to his disciples. The Gospels are full accounts of Jesus’ healing powers. “Are you he who is to come?” asked John the Baptist’s disciples of Jesus. Jesus answered, “Tell John the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.” Jesus identified himself as the Messiah by his ministry of healing. Indeed, it was an important and major part of his ministry. He commanded his disciples to be healers and that includes us also. We are to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive our demons. Obviously, this command to heal is not about physical healing alone. I have been given the gift of healing on several occasions, probably more than I realize, but never in the physical sense. There is also the healing of hearts and souls in a ministry of reconciliation and this is where we fit into this ministry of healing for the most part.
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that we are to cure the sick. This could include, visits to the sick in hospitals and nursing homes. Visiting the sick, letting them know that you care, can be a very healing experience for them. We can also help cure the sick that are alienated from God, who do not attend church or pray often if at all, also those whose faith is weak and those who do not believe God loves them or cares for them.
We are to heal by raising the dead, by lifting up those who are dead because of a habit of sin, those who somehow strayed from the path of light onto the path of darkness and who fear they are unable to get out of the mess they are in. These people are blind and deaf to the goodness of God and his love for all of us. God is not a punisher but a lover and we have to carry this message in a healing way.
We are to cure and heal the lepers or those who are treated like lepers used to be treated, shunned by society and condemned to loneliness and a friendless life. They have cast them aside by self-righteousness and the refusal to have anything to do with them.
Finally, we are to heal those, free those, enslaved by sin and evil. There are no bad people. There are ignorant people and I am at the top of the list. We are all ignorant. I spent many years in ignorance and hopeless guilt and am extremely grateful to those who helped me to see the light. Now I try and help others who are in the same situation I was in. I can carry the message of Jesus to them just as it was given to me.
Jesus, you have healed us all through your death on the cross. Help us; give us the strength to share in your ministry of healing our sick brothers and sisters.
Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, (June 16, 2008) Mt. 5: 38-42
“Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” With the economy the way it is today, I would doubt that the expression “baker’s dozen” is still applicable. That used to mean, and maybe it still does, that if you bought a dozen doughnuts or cookies from a baker, he would give you 13 for the price of 12. That was a sign of generosity, of giving more than you were obliged to give. That’s the way Jesus is. He is generous. Consider for a moment the miracle at the Wedding in Cana where they ended up with enough wine to slake the thirst of the Marine Corps. And Jesus was more than generous with his death for us on the cross. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to be generous with each other. If someone asks you to go a mile with them, go two miles. If someone pays you to cut the grass in the backyard, do the front also for no added money. Jesus wants us to use our gifts and talents generously for others. Sharing what we have is good. Generous sharing of what we have is great. Lord, help me to be generous with the gifts and talents you have given me.
Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, (June 17, 2008) Mt. 5: 43-48
The Gospel selected for today’s Liturgy is from the section of Matthew’s Gospel devoted to the antitheses. An antithesis is something that goes against or rises above the normal or usual practice. It is normal, usual, to love your friend, your kinsperson, and to hate your enemies, those who do you violence or abuse of any sort. Jesus takes this norm and raises the bar way up. His antithesis is for us to love our enemies and pray for those who harm us.
Practically speaking, we don’t go looking for our enemies. Rather we go the other way and try and avoid them. If we do see them, it is usually from a distance. But we can always pray for them. Many of our enemies are people we resent and one of the best ways I know of getting rid of resentments and back on the road to forgiveness is to pray for that person every day. It is difficult not to forgive someone we are praying for every day. Lord, help me to remember to pray for those I resent, people I am not very fond of. May my prayers lead to my forgiving them and hopefully to reconciling with them again.
Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, (June 18, 2008) Mt. 6: 1-6, 16-18
Perhaps you recognize the Gospel selected for our reflection today as the same Gospel that is read every year on Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent. It is a Gospel that asks us to be sincere in the religious acts we perform. We can fool other people rather easily, we can even fool ourselves sometimes if we begin to believe our rationalizations, but we cannot fool God. In each instance of hypocrisy or deception talked about in this Gospel, it ends up with the words “Your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Nothing is hidden from God and he tells us that it is our actions that really matter.
Insincerity, phoniness, meant to placate people or God, will not bring happiness. Religion is a relationship, a binding of myself to God, and it is supposed to bring me happiness. If it doesn’t, I am spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I tried to fool God for years and was only really fooling myself. Now that I am trying to be honest and sincere with God, myself and others, I am a happy person most of the time. I have learned that my rationalizing is a character defect and not worth a hoot. Jesus, keep me honest and sincere with you, with myself, and in my relationships with others.
Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, (June 19, 2008) Mt. 6: 7-15
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray what we have come to call the Lord’s Prayer. For the most part, all of us learned this prayer from our parents and have had it memorized from our youth. We say it often and sometimes without even realizing what it is we are praying for. I am the same way. And that is not surprising. Rote prayers are that way with me most all of the time. We are not really aware of what we are saying and our minds are wandering all over the place. When this happens, I am not concentrating on what I am saying. A man once told his friend that he would give him his horse if he could pray the Hail Mary all the way through without distraction. The man thought this would be simple and started out: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you……Do I get the saddle too?Distractions seem to get the better of us all the time.
There is one time a week when I do pay attention to what I am saying when I pray the Lord’s prayer. Most all of you know by this time that I am in AA and I try and go to a meeting every week. At the close of the meeting, after all have shared on the topic of the meeting, we rise, join hands, and pray together the Lord’s Prayer. It is a powerful part of the meeting and there is no doubt in my mind that it is a powerful part in the sobriety of all praying. We leave the meeting mindful of our Higher Power who is the cause of all good things that happen to us. We ask to follow his way, his will. We ask for his daily care and strength and ask his help and care for others who need help. We ask his help in any and all temptations to drink alcohol. We ask his help with the gift of sobriety. We praise him as our God, our power for action, and pray that we may glorify him and act so as to please him until we meet again. And, you know what? It works! May the Lord keep us all in his care.
Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, June 20, Mt. 6: 19-23
Today’s Gospel selection, as I see it, is about out priorities. What is first in our lives and in the goals we have established for ourselves? We human beings are a combination of the physical and spiritual. Consequently, our priorities can go in one of two directions: physical or spiritual. This is reflected in the words of Jesus in our Gospel for today: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
It should be evident to all that because we are all physical and spiritual we all have both physical and spiritual needs. I cannot live without food and water and all the many other physical necessities of life. Nor can I live a happy, productive, fruitful life without the spiritual help of Almighty God. “Without me you can do nothing.” Jesus knows this. He is simply telling us that for this very complex human package we find ourselves wrapped in, the spiritual is more important for the ultimate purpose of life, more a priority, than the physical. Do I see it this way at least most of the time? Surely this is something for us to meditate carefully about.
Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, (June 21, 2008) Mt. 6: 24-34
Today’s Gospel is a follow-up of yesterday’s Gospel selection. Today Jesus tells us we cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon is defined as riches regarded as an object of worship and greedy pursuit; wealth or material gain as an evil, more or less deified. It is kind of a play on words: You cannot serve both God and gods.
In order that we are not overly concerned about having the necessary physical needs of life, Jesus tells us not to worry about this issue. He will take care of this for us. He will see to it these things are there for us. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God and then all these things will be given us besides. Today’s Gospel is an invitation for us to surrender to God. We have seen before Francis of Assisi’s surrender to God in his words: Lord, what do you want me to do? And then the Voice told Francis: Return to Assisi and I will tell you what to do. This happened and Francis listened and he and his brothers were taken care of by the Lord in the pursuit of their new way of life. Surrender really works i-f we have the faith to try it. Lord, increase my faith.
Daily Homilies is now going to take a break for Province business and a short vacation. The Homilies will resume again on Sunday, July 13.