Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 19, Mt. 22: 15-21.
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
I have written before in these homilies about what I believe is the initial selfishness of the human being. I believe we all start out this way, very selfish individuals, even though we may not recognize it as such at times. When we are very young, we just do what comes naturally and part of that, I believe, is selfishness. It’s all about me. You have witnessed the following scenario millions of times and probably were part of it at one time yourself: The mother and her young child are in the grocery store. The child spots something on a shelf that he/she wants. Mom says no. Then the tantrum starts, crying, screaming, whatever, till Mom finally capitulates and gives the child what he/she wants. Yes, it’s all about me when I am a child.
Somewhere along the line this has to go. We are social creatures and this social part of us does not mix too well with selfishness. It must be overcome. In overcoming my selfishness, I sense a progression, an inclination, a bent, towards gratitude. Deep in our hearts we have a need to repay others for what they do for us. I sense a desire to give in return and not only to take. I sense the need to reciprocate. I can’t always be taking, taking, taking. I feel an obligation within me to repay, to give back.
I see a lot of this in AA and the other self-help programs. Why do people, for example, with 35 or 40 years of sobriety continue to go to meetings? One answer is that they would wish to continue in their sobriety until they die and so they keep doing what will cause this to happen. But another answer is the gratitude they feel toward God and AA for the gift of sobriety that has truly made life worth living. That is my own feeling. And along with it I feel the necessity of giving back something to AA, namely, my presence at meetings so a new-comer can look around and see that what he or she is getting into really does work.
And so it is with my relationship with God. God always seems to be the Giver and we, the recipients. And I feel an obligation to “repay” God, to reciprocate, for all he has done for me. I realize I am not causing God to “feel better” or whatever. But I am causing myself to “feel better” through my gratitude to God. The inclination in my heart to repay for gifts given is salved. I hope you all understand what I am trying to say here because it makes the words of Jesus about giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s make sense to me.
Thank you God for all you have done for me. How can I possibly ever repay you?
Monday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 20, Luke 12: 13-21.
“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
I believe the goods of this world are sufficient for all. If this is true, why then are there poor people, hungry people, homeless people all around us? The only answer seems to be that some people have more of the world’s goods than is necessary. The goods of this world are meant for all peoples. We all have a right, I believe, to enough money for the necessities of life, enough food to eat, clothes to wear, homes in which to live. Greed fouls this all up. I see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. This is not right.
Greed does not know the meaning of enough. There is really nothing wrong, per se, with being rich. But those who are rich have an obligation to share their wealth with others; again, the goods of the earth are meant for all. The Gospel for today tells us that “one’s life does not consist of possessions.” One’s life consists, rather, in loving God and in loving our neighbors as ourselves. If we fulfill this Great Commandment, then there is no place for greed in God’s plan.
Tuesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 21, Luke 12: 35-38.
“Blessed are those servants whom the Master finds vigilant on his arrival.”
Today’s Gospel selection speaks to us about being ready when the Lord comes again in the second coming. And he will also come to us again at our time of death. We can include both comings in the words above from today’s Gospel. And the question is asked whether or not God will find me ready to go with him when my time of death comes. Some are rather hesitant to think about the time of their death, but think about it from time to time we must. Yesterday is gone and past and I am not sure tomorrow will be mine. Am I prepared to meet Jesus today?
Jesus, keep me always ready, awake, and waiting for you to come.
Wednesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 22, Luke 12: 39-48.
“You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Today’s Gospel continues with the thought we began in yesterday’s Gospel.
We have written often in these daily homilies about God’s gifts to each of us in the gifts and talents we have each received. We have said many times that we do not earn them or deserve them. They are pure gift from God to us. And I believe it is in these gifts and talents from God that we find or discover our life’s work, God’s will for us. For example, I do not think I have been called by God to be an astronaut. I have none of the gifts required for that calling. On the other hand, I believe the gifts and talents I have fit well in the vocation I chose or was led to by God’s Spirit. I feel confident and comfortable at almost 78 years of age that I am in the right place in my life. Now all I have to do is work to be a fulfilled priest. I have not always been so in the past and am still working toward that now, with some progress. And I hope I can still continue to make progress until the Lord comes for me.
How about yourself? Are you comfortable in what you are doing in this life? Are you comfortable as a Mom, Dad, husband, wife, or single? Are you comfortable with the work you are doing? Do you enjoy it? Are you comfortable that you have found your niche? The Gospels for the past couple of days have been giving us some rather difficult questions to deal with. Let us pray that God gives us the grace to answer them honestly.
Lord, I place myself today in your hands. Help me to find my place in your plan.
Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 23, Luke 12: 49-53.
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.”
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus tells us he has come to start a blaze, a fire, on the earth. He has come to start a fire in our hearts. The analogy of God’s Word and fire can have many different meanings. Fire spreads quickly when blown by the wind. We are urged to take the Word of God into our hearts and then let the breath, the wind, of the Spirit help us spread it throughout the world. In other words, we are all sparks to start the fire to spread God’s Word.
St. Francis of Assisi, in his magnificent poem written close to the time of his death, the Canticle of the Sun, wrote of fire: “Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, powerful and strong.” We are also fire, having been set ablaze by Jesus, when we let others know how beautiful and precious God has made us all and by being cheerful followers of Christ ourselves. Also, because we are ablaze with God’s Word, we have been given the strength to brighten the night of the world and help lead others from the darkness into the light of Christ. This whole Gospel speaks of igniting our own discipleship and then letting it spread to attract others to Jesus. This is another challenge Jesus extends to all his followers.
Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 24, Luke 12: 54-59.
Today’s Gospel selection follows yesterday’s where Jesus challenged us all to spread his word in our corner of the world. The world needs to be set on fire with his Word. In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us: “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain ….. You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
Jesus is telling us: Open your eyes and look around you. There you see murder, violence, greed, rage, anger, intolerance, selfishness, unforgiving people and more. The world in which we live has not arrived. It desperately needs the Word and values of Jesus. If we don’t put this into the world, no one will. We are literally Jesus in the world today. It is indeed a challenge.
Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Oct. 25, Luke 13: 1-9.
The Gospels for the past couple of days have been urging us to spread the Gospel message, the Word of God, to the world around us. Today we are reminded that before we can properly do this, we have to repent ourselves. Before we remove the speck from others’ eyes, we have to get rid of the plank in our own – to quote another part of the Gospel.
The second half of today’s Gospel selection tells the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree. In this parable, God is the Father who comes in search of fruit on the fig tree and finds none. It is barren and he wants to cut it down and get rid of it. His Son, Jesus, urges him not to cut it down right away but to let it go for another year, get some fertilizer in the meantime, and see if it will then bear fruit. This is my interpretation of the parable. Jesus is the Lord of second chances. The moral is that he gives us many chances to reform our lives to his way of doing things and thus bear fruit. His grace is always there for us. Let us reach out for it, accept it, and bear the fruit of his happiness and peace in our hearts. Then we can take what we have received and give it to others.