Reflections for the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time 2012**
** These homilies were written by Fr. Howard in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

                                                                                          Sunday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
O                                                                                                        October 14, 2012,  Mark 10:17-30

In our Gospel selected to be read on this Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus is holding up an ideal for us to follow. Jesus is putting forth the idea of us becoming detached from personal possessions. Detachment is what we are concerned about. The Gospel in another place remarks that the more possessions we have the more we worry about protecting them. And this worrying and concern gets in the way of our having a better relationship with our God. It is one of the blocks we spoke of not too long ago. God is to be first, number one, in our priorities, not our possessions. It is important to note that Jesus loved the rich man in today’s Gospel: “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him ……” Not to fulfill the ideal that Jesus is asking of us does not necessarily take away Jesus’ love for us. Jesus’ ideals challenge us all through the Scriptures. They show us how to improve ourselves, how to make progress in his way, even though we are “good” and he loves us regardless.

In fact, the disciples wonder if this ideal Jesus is asking of us is even possible: “Then who can be saved?” And Jesus answered, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Jesus shows us, tells us, that we cannot put these ideals of his into practice without his grace accompanying them. In order to follow Jesus’ way to the utmost, we must be totally dependent on him. In other words, we must surrender to his way, truth and life. And surrender itself is an ideal.

We have spoken of this spiritual principle of surrender before in these homilies many times. The Third Step of the Twelve Steps puts it very simply, as we have seen before: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him. We give ourselves to God and we take ourselves back again time and time again. For human beings, all of this is indeed impossible. We must be willing to embrace the gifts of God’s grace always more and more.

My God, how great Thou art!!

Fr. Howard

                                                                                                     Monday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
                                                                                          October 15,  Memorial of St. Theresa of Avila, doctor of the Church

St. Teresa, whose memorial we celebrate today, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515 and died in 1582, at the age of 67. Her life is very detailed and complex and one cannot do it justice in the short space available here.

Just a couple of noteworthy things about her will have to suffice. She, along with St. Catherine of Siena, was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970. Teresa was a wise and practical woman, kind and charitable, and greatly gifted in her explanations of the highest degrees of prayer and union with God, and in the love of our neighbor.

St. Teresa is also referred to as a Doctor of Prayer and wrote much on this subject. She was also responsible for the renewal and reform of the Carmelites throughout Spain. She assures us in her writings that those who practice prayer faithfully will receive their requests beyond their greatest expectations.

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

Fr. Howard


Tuesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
October 16,  Luke 11: 37-41

Today’s Gospel tells of Jesus reprimanding the Pharisees for always being concerned about insignificant things like washing before eating, clean dishes, and a lot of other little details that really make no difference at all in the long run. This reminds me of the old Latin expression: Quid ad aeternitatem? (What is this in the light of eternity?).

And aren’t we all guilty basically of falling into the same trap? We get all upset when someone spills a glass of milk, when someone doesn’t put something back where it belongs after they use it, when dirty clothes are thrown in a pile on the floor, when mud is tracked onto the kitchen floor. Quid ad aeternitatem?

Let’s start paying attention to the significant things in life like going out of our way to love our neighbor more and forget about the insignificant things that really don’t matter anyway.

Fr. Howard

                                                                                        Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
                                                                           October 17,  Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch who was martyred in Rome in the year 107 under the Emperor Trajan. This is truly one of the saints of the very early Church that is still remembered in our own time. He longed to be a martyr and his prayer was answered. During his long journey from Antioch to Rome, he wrote seven letters addressed to the faithful in different cities.

St. Ignatius of Antioch is still remembered today because of his dedication to the young Church and to Christ, who was really the center of his life. Perhaps his feast can be the occasion for all of us to reflect on the busyness of our own daily life and ask ourselves if this is pushing Jesus’ importance in our lives aside.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

                                                                                                 Thursday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
                                                                                                          October 18,  Feast of St. Luke, evangelist 

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist whose Gospel we are now reading in the daily Liturgies. And, as usual, we don’t know a whole lot about him. He has been identified with St. Paul’s “Luke, the beloved physician” in the Letter to the Colossians 4: 14. Tradition tells us he was born a Greek and was a Gentile. Later he became a follower of St. Paul. When Paul was in prison in Rome c. 61, it was Luke who stayed with him. After everyone else deserted Paul in his final stay in prison, Luke still stuck by him. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy: “Only Luke is with me.”

St. Luke is unique in many ways. Many of our favorite stories appear only in Luke’s Gospel, e.g., the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, special happenings in the life of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and so on. The final details of his life are scarce. Some say he was martyred; others say he went on to live a long life. Some maintain he preached in Greece or France. Early tradition says he died at the age of 84. St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.

St. Luke, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

                                                                                         Friday of the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time, October 19 
                                                                                  Memorial of St. John de Bebreuf, St. Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs,
                                                                                                                        and their companions, martyrs

Today the Church honors St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and their companions, the Jesuit Martyrs of North America. Between the years 1642 and 1649, eight members of the Society of Jesus were martyred in the north-east United States. They were working among the Huron and Iriquois Tribes of Native Americans. Much has been written about the various ways they were tortured before they died trying to spread the Gospel of Jesus. There are many stories available in many books and online for those who wish to study these Holy Martyrs. St. Isaac Jogues died on Oct. 18, 1646 and St. John de Bregeuf died on March 16, 1649.

Holy Jesuit Martyrs, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

                                                                                               Saturday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
                                                                                                                            October 20, Luke 12: 8-12

The Gospel offered for our consideration today brings up the idea of the unforgivable sin. We all know that there are no limits to God’s forgiveness. So in order for one to get into an unforgivable state, one would have to completely close his heart to God and absolutely refuse to repent. I wonder if there ever has been such a person like this who was completely in possession of their faculties. To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit would be to express words of hate toward God. I don’t understand how anyone in their right mind could do this either. I don’t think too many of us have to worry about this unforgivable sin thing.

Jesus, you came to save us all. You call us your friends. We love you, and because we love you we regret all we have ever done that is contrary to your way, truth and life. Help your values to be ours. Amen.

Fr. Howard 

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