Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 7, Luke 20: 27-38
“They can no longer die for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.” — “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day.” (John 6: 54) — “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6: 58).
One of the main ideas that literally explodes before us in the Gospel for this Sunday is that once we die physically, we shall still live on eternally. We will rise from the dead! There will be a resurrection to life in the world to come. After our physical death, we are not going to just rot in the grave and that’s that. We read again in the Letter to the Hebrews 9: 27-28:“Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many (many is used here in the Semitic meaning of “all” in the inclusive sense), will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” Hey everybody! Hello! This is Jesus, the Son of God, speaking to us in these few quotes about resurrection that come to my mind this morning. There are more, many, many more.
Our Gospel today opens by telling us that the Sadducees are those who deny that there is a resurrection. It isn’t only the Sadducees who have trouble believing we will rise from the dead, for I believe that all of us have been skeptical of this many times in our lives. We hear statements like: No one has ever come back to tell us this will happen. Jesus died! And further, he was raised from the dead. What confuses me is why we doubt this when Jesus tells us over and over that it is true in the Scriptures. It is this skepticism that destroys our faith.
If I didn’t believe that I am going to rise to new life after my physical death, I wouldn’t still be around working as a priest. And yet at times there is that smidgeon of doubt that still creeps in. It must be our humanness that causes this.
Also, it is true that we don’t know a whole lot, if anything at all, about the so-called “end things” of heaven, hell and purgatory. They tell us that there is something there after death, but where they are or what they are we just do not know. Let us close this homily with one more quote from the Scriptures: Eye has not seen, hear has not heard, nor has it entered the mind of men and women what God has prepared for those who love him.
Monday of the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 8, Luke 17: 1-6
“And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Gospel chosen for today’s Liturgy is a good one to follow the Gospel for yesterday on resurrection from the dead and the faith needed to believe this. The Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith, and that could well be our own prayer for every minute of the day.
Faith is believing in something we cannot understand. Faith seeks understanding. Faith has nothing to do with the five senses. I am believing something I cannot smell, feel, hear, see or taste. Faith is a giant leap into space with nothing to hang on to but God. We all need to increase our faith. And we wonder just how we go about doing this. I believe we begin by realizing our need and dependence on God. He tells us in the parable of the vine and the branches: Without me you can do nothing. And this includes believing. We must first of all be open to and desire God’s grace and help.
For me, this involves the 3rd Step of the 12 Steps of Spirituality. Once again, this 3rd Step reads: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. Faith and surrender go hand in hand. It is difficult to say I have faith in God if I am still in charge of things. When I surrender, I am putting God in control of my life, turning things entirely over to him.
The word “decision” comes from the Latin “decidere” and it means to cut out or cut away whatever is preventing me from doing what I want to do. To make a decision to believe is to do away with the obstacles that are preventing my believing. When we tell someone else to “cut it out” when they are bugging us, we are telling them to get rid of the nonsense and choose another way to act. Some of these obstacles to belief, for example, might be: choosing my way of doing things over God’s way, bad attitudes, pride, envy and so on.
Faith is also another one of those action words. Faith demands deeds or good works. In the Letter of James 2: 26 we read that faith without works is dead, nothing. So getting into trustful action is also a way of increasing our faith.
Lord, we pray, please increase our faith.
Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran
Nov. 9, John 2: 13-22
The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest of the four major basilicas of the city of Rome. It is the official seat of the Holy Father and the Pope resided there for centuries. The Lateran is called the mother church of Christendom and the purpose of this feast, of course, is to remind us of the unity of all Christians with the Chair of Peter. Unfortunately we are far from what most of us imagine by unity in the Catholic Church today. Things are kind of helter-skelter right now. But this feast reminds us to pray for unity and for our Holy Father, the Pope. Personally, I don’t get too excited about some of the things that seem lacking in the Church with regard to unity today. It is Jesus’ Church and he has given us the care of it. But he is always there to help us.
I once heard a little saying and believe it to be true: There is nothing that is going to happen to me today that Jesus and I can’t handle together. I apply this same idea to the Church and its many problems. My job is to live the Gospel life and to pass it on to others in my little corner of this world. And let Jesus take care of the rest.
Wednesday of the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 10, Luke 17: 11-19
“Where are the other nine?”
In today’s Gospel ten lepers approach Jesus and ask him to have mercy on their pitiable condition and help them. Jesus, in his great compassion, heals all ten lepers of their terrible disease. Later on, one of those healed returns to say “thank you” to Jesus. Jesus, sounding a bit disappointed, asks, “Where are the other nine?”
Gratitude is beyond doubt the queen of the virtues and we must never let ourselves forget to thank God for his great mercy and kindness toward all of us. God gifts us in many ways and the least we can do is thank him.
Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of AA realized he had done nothing to deserve the great gift of sobriety. He knew well that it came from God. In one of his writings he urges all those who have been given the gift of recovery to thank God often for it. He tells his readers to say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you over and over again until you really mean it. This is a good suggestion for all of us to keep in mind.
Thursday of the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 11, Luke 17: 20-25
“The Kingdom of God is among you.”
Today’s Gospel tells us the location of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel tells us not to run all over the place shouting, “Here it is!” or “There it is!” We won’t find it that way. Rather, Jesus tells us, the Kingdom of God is among you, it is within you. Each of you is the Kingdom of God. And if you wish to find it, look within yourself.
What do you see? Do you see greed, violence, rage, anger, envy, selfishness, all about me-ness, resentments, failure to forgive, revenge, lust, being critical of others and gossiping? If you look within and find these things, the Kingdom of God is not there.
But if you look within and find love, kindness, gentleness, understanding, service to others, prayer, peace, serenity, neighborliness, acceptance, and forgiveness you have found the Kingdom of God.
Today, look within. What do you see?
Friday of the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 12, Luke 17: 26-37
Our Gospel chosen to be read today continues on about the Kingdom of God and asks this question: When will God’s Kingdom reach its completion?
The Kingdom of God within us is something that progresses as we go along. I believe we can compare this progress of the Kingdom to our own growth. We have all been growing (sometimes in the wrong places) since the day we were born. We started out as little children eating Wheaties every morning so we would grow tall and strong like Jack Armstrong. And through the years we have grown, we have matured physically, mentally and spiritually. But through it all we have not yet reached full growth and maturity. This will happen, most probably, when we finally see our Lord Jesus face to face. In the meantime, we continue to grow and make progress in the virtues we listed yesterday that show that the Kingdom of God is definitely within us.
Do I honestly see myself making progress towards mature adulthood in the Kingdom? In which areas of my life is this taking place right now?
Saturday of the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time
Nov. 13, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American citizen to be canonized a Saint. St. Frances was born in Lombardy, Italy, in 1850. There were 13 children in her family. At eighteen she wanted to become a nun, but her health prevented this. She began to teach in a girl’s school and at the urging of the Pope went on to found the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children.
At the request of Pope Leo XIII, St. Frances came with six other sisters to the United States in 1889 to work among the many Italian immigrants. At the time of her death her sisters had spread to England, France, Spain and the United States. She died in Chicago, IL on December 22, 1917. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1946. St. Frances is the patroness of immigrants.
St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, pray for us.