Reflections for the 31st Week in Ordinary Time 2011**
** These homilies were written by Fr. Howard in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
They refer to the daily readings for the 31st Week in Ordinary Time 2011.
Sunday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
October 30, Matthew 23: 1-12
Inventory is a spiritual principle. In Catholic jargon, the Inventory is often referred to as an Examination of Conscience and is used mainly by Catholics before going to confession. The Inventory answers the question: What am I going to say to the confessor; what am I going to admit having done to him and through him to God?
The word Inventory is used twice in the 12 Spiritual Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The fourth Step tells us it should be thorough and fearless in preparation for the 5th Step. The 10th Step tells us this Inventory should be taken on a regular basis, even daily. The Inventory in the 12 Steps is used to discover what it is that is blocking my relationship with my Higher Power, God, who is absolutely necessary for my continuing quality sobriety. This same thing can be said to be the purpose of the Examen before confession regarding the absolute necessary relationship with God for my spiritual life
Today’s Gospel can be considered as suggestions for the material of the Inventory. Do I preach what I do not practice to my children or to my neighbors in general? Do I expect others to do all the work while I watch or criticize? Am I helpful to those I work with? Do I do things solely to be seen and complimented by others? Is my whole life dedicated to my being numero uno?
Lord, help me get rid of every vestige of hypocrisy and phoniness in my life.
Monday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
October 31, Luke 14: 12-14
Once in my lifetime I remember fulfilling the Gospel read for today’s Liturgy where Jesus tells us that when we hold a banquet we are not to invite just our friends but the poor, crippled and lame as well. I was stationed in Lorain, Ohio as a hospital chaplain, and one evening I stopped by the Friary to have supper with the other Friars who served in the parish. For some reason, none of them were home for supper and they hadn’t told the cook they would not be there. She had prepared a huge pan of lasagna for the meal, enough for ten people. As I sat down to eat one piece of this dish of food, the doorbell rang. It was a young man in his 20’s traveling through town. He had no money and was hoping to get some from me to buy a meal. I told him I wouldn’t give him any money but that if he wanted to he could come and join me for supper seeing as I had a mountain of lasagna. He accepted the invitation and resumed his trip with a full stomach.
I believe the point of today’s Gospel is really to urge us to help out not only our friends and relatives who are in need but also strangers we meet who need our help. This Gospel is really inviting us to be good Samaritans. We have this opportunity often in many different situations, if we wish to do it.
Let’s all try and do something for someone we don’t know today, even if it is just holding a door open for them to pass through.
Tuesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
November 1, The Solemnity of All Saints
“The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The Godly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise thee.
All the saints and elect with one voice acknowledge thee,
O Blessed Trinity, One God.”
A saint is anyone who tries to live their life according to the way of God. The Church has always honored those who die in the Lord. The history of the Church is filled with stories of these people, some remembered throughout the ages, and some forgotten and never to be remembered again. They may be people we know right now and try to imitate. Some have been canonized or recognized by the Church; others have not been recognized but tried to live as God revealed he would like them to live. We honor them all on this day.
This feast that we call All Saints Day began as a feast of All Martyrs early in the Church’s history – the 4th Century. It came to be observed later on May 13 when Pope Boniface (608-615) rebuilt as a Christian church an ancient Roman Temple called the Pantheon or Temple of All Gods. The Church re-buried many martyrs here and dedicated the Church to the Mother of God and All the Holy Martyrs on May 13, 610.
About a hundred years later, Pope Gregory III converted a new chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all Saints (not just martyrs) and set the date of the feast on November 1. The vigil of this important feast, All Saint’s Eve, Hallowee’een, was apparently celebrated as early as the feast itself. We still celebrate All Saints Day on November 1 and Halloween on October 31 today.
Wednesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
November 2, All Souls Day
I quite honestly do not know if there is a purgatory or not. No one does. Our present Pope, Benedict XVI, wrote: “I would go so far as to say that if there was no purgatory, then we would have to invent it, for who would dare to say of him/herself that he or she was able to stand directly before God.” He goes on to say that purgatory means God can put the pieces back together again that we presumably have broken off by our sins.
This is the feast we celebrate today, a remembrance of friends and loved ones who have passed away. This day follows All Saints Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory. This feast reminds us of our obligation to live holy lives; to live the way God has told us to live in the Scriptures.
Let us pause for a time today and remember all of those who in the past have had a significant difference in our lives, who were good people, and ask God to receive them into his Kingdom.
May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Thursday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time
November 3, Luke 15: 1-10
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”.
Thank God for welcoming sinners! All of us would be out in left field if he didn’t. This is why he became man: to redeem us, set us straight with the Father, to forgive our sins.
I hear the confessions of older people frequently. They come to confession out of habit and then when they get face to face with the confessor, they can’t think of anything to say! They stammer and fret while I think, this is great! I tell them the older we get, the less we sin. I kind of think that is true. By the time we are seniors, we have just about tried it all and it didn’t make us happy. So we try it God’s way, and find the happiness we’ve been looking for all along. And there is less sin. So what’s wrong with that! I’ve been looking for some truly good things about the so-called Golden Age and can’t find too many of them. But they are there if we look, and this is certainly one of them.
Friday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time
November 4, Luke 16: 1-8
“The master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently”.
I guess there is prudence and then there is prudence. The truly prudent thing for the steward to have done would have been not to get involved in all of these dishonest shenanigans at all, but to keep things on the up and up with his master’s property. But he was prudent in his straying ways. Prudence is defined as the right way of doing things. And after he blew it with his unethical ways, he did the prudent thing by covering his own rear end when the consequences of his actions came and he lost his position.
So the steward was clever to a point. But he would have really been clever to have chosen God’s way in the first place.
Saturday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time
November 5, Luke 16: 9-15
I guess we kind of jumped the gun with yesterday’s homily by getting into today’s Gospel. But it is a good reminder for all of us. Don’t get too concerned with the paycheck and how much money you are making or with that boat you’ve always wanted or that new luxury car. These things are nice and ok, but not if they take our attention away from the Lord Jesus.
Once again, let’s try to keep our priorities in the proper order. This is a good note upon which to end another week.