03 September 201722 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
22 Ordinary Time
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Cycle
Matthew 16:21-27

Jacqueline Kennedy was the most admired beauty in the 20th century. Like Helen of Troy, her face could have launched a thousand ships. But all her beauty, elegance, and wealth could not save her from a disfiguring cancer and ugly death in 1994. Obviously her beauty was not free. It came with an expensive price tag.

But, if it was true for Jacqueline, so was it true for Jesus the Nazarene. How much easier it would have been if Jesus could have continued to tell pithy parables, heal the sick, go fishing with his buddies, pray a lot, and die at an advanced old age. (Daniel Durken)

That was not in the cards. His down days were approaching.

Today's Gospel points up a forgotten Christian truth. It would not be far off base to say it is one we want to forget. We enter here the strange world of denial. Bear in mind that Jesus' prediction of His approaching suffering comes immediately after one of the rare glory points of His life. Shortly before this Gospel opens, Peter told Him, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." That unexpected and unqualified credo made His otherwise bad week.

We are being reminded that each time the Nazarene savored a win, He immediately e-mailed the information to us that He would soon be given a bill for that victory.

Think of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. There He enjoys one of the few high points of His life. His face shines like the sun. His clothing becomes resplendent with a whiteness no Clorox can duplicate. Then the bill is presented to Him. "Tell no one," says our Leader, "what you have seen...for the Son of Man must first suffer."

Here the Master is teaching His apostles that those of us who have tasted happiness today must realize that adversities await down the road. The Teacher is telling us, "I never promised you a permanent rose garden here." If He did not substitute a water bed for His cross, He will not do so for us either.

Everyone of us is anxious to receive favors from God. Usually we do. But, if we take the life of Christ as a guide plan, divine favors invariably come with a hefty price tag in the shape of a cross.

Consider John Paul II. An obscure cardinal from Poland is elected Vicar of Christ. Wherever he went, millions shouted, "Viva il Papa." Then the young Turkish waiter appears with an extravagant bill on a silver tray in 1981. It takes the form of two bullets from an assassin's Browning 9-millimeter automatic pistol. Skilled surgeons were required to sew the pope's stomach back together, The Browning almost ended his life. If this truth applies to the giants of our culture, eg John and Robert Kennedy, if it even applies to our Lord, why would we think that bad times are going to pass us by? Even in the spiritual life, there is no such thing as a free lunch. And just forget about a free supper. Happily, though, this grim tale is not concluded. We must not snap shut the Gospel book until the last pages are read. In those pages, we discover the happy ending that everyone of us wants and needs - the mighty Resurrection of Christ. Remember Mount Tabor. It is true enough that Jesus spoke of His suffering immediately after His glory. But He also said, "Tell no one what you have seen until I have risen from the dead." The formula would appear to be: glory, death, and resurrection. Death then gives over to absolute victory. Naturally enough, we would like to alter that plan of action. Were we drawing up the game plan, we would eliminate the suffering and just bring on the glory train.

We identify with Peter in today's Gospel. When Christ promises He is going to suffer, Peter replies, "Heaven preserve you. This must not happen to you." Jesus, the original script writer, closed Peter down roughly. The Galilean is reminding Peter and ourselves that no faux authors are welcome. We are but the actors who strut about on the stage for a time and then watch the final curtain fall. If savvy, we will recite our assigned lines correctly. We will resist the temptation to sneak our prose past the Master. Hopefully, then, all of us will win resurrection and a warm embrace from Jesus the Nazarene on the final day.

May Jacqueline, John Paul, and the brothers Kennedy already experience that tight embrace.

William Penn summed up this Gospel in the 18th century. "No pain, no ointment; no thorns, no throne; no bitterness, no glory; no cross, no crown. 

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
22 Ordinary Time
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time: By Hope We Are Saved

I spend a lot of time watching TV, probably way too much time. I like sports, so I see a lot of baseball, Rays and Yankees, and I see everything that has to do with the Bucs, even looking at recordings of games I go to. I have certain shows that I like, many of them some form of mysteries, others some relaxing sitcoms. And then there is Netflix.

But I know that when the Emmys come around I'm going to be disappointed, as I usually am when the Oscars or Tony's are announced. It is not just that the shows I like are usually overlooked, it is that the award programs seem to be intent on promoting an immoral value system, treating all sorts of really sick behavior as normal and mocking all who would disagree. The irreligious and immoral of our society have had great success in convincing many people that there is a new normal, one that accepts what any committed Christian recognizes is unacceptable.

This aspect of the world was not all that different back in the days of St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrated last Monday. I want to spend some time today considering Augustine's life and his Confessions. His life and his most famous work flow from today's readings and relate to us. Like us, Augustine was surrounded by a society of so-called intellectuals that told him immorality was normal and acceptable.

St. Augustine was born in 354 AD in Tagaste, then part of the North African territory of the Roman Empire, now Algeria. He was intelligent, very intelligent, perhaps one of the most intelligent people ever. Like some of the intellectuals of our time, he sought justification for immorality within his own life and the lives of his friends. He sought happiness in physical satisfaction. He got a girl pregnant, and then dumped her after the baby was born. She was only the first of many women in his life. He sought happiness in intellectual endeavors, flirting with various forms of paganism. He finally realized that truth could only be found in the Church, but he did not want to sacrifice his pleasures in order to live as a Christian. But like Jeremiah in the first reading, there was fire burning in his heart. He had to listen to the voice of God in his conscience.

Responding to God's call would not be easy for Augustine. He had to struggle to fight off his selfishness, particularly in the area of sexuality. He had to humble himself to recognize that his intellect was inferior to Divine Knowledge. "You duped me Lord, and I was duped," Jeremiah complained. Augustine would have said the same thing, "You called me Lord to you. I thought this would be easy. But the path is difficult." We would agree. We would say, "It is so hard to serve you Lord in a world where we are mocked for standing for the sacredness of marriage, for the dignity of the person, for respecting the body. To Augustine and to us, Jesus says, "Take up your cross and follow me." "Don't be conformed to this world," Paul writes in our second reading. "Instead, be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you might discern what God's will is"

St. Augustine wrote a long prayer to God about his life. We call this book his Confessions. The Confessions of St. Augustine is more than his autobiography. It is a guide for us to understand the gifts offered to us by Grace. It is so easy to be a passive audience, reading what Augustine went through. It is challenging for us to understand that his journey was no different than ours.

You know The Confessions, or at least have heard some quotes from it. Perhaps, you know that Augustine's theme is found in the first pages of his book. "Our hearts are made for you, O God, and shall not rest until they rest in you. Nothing that we seek in this world can bring us lasting happiness. All pleasure is fleeting. We spend our lives seeking happiness. But like Augustine, we often look for it in the wrong places. Our hearts, our love, comes from God. Our search for happiness, for love, our hearts, will not be satisfied until they are fully united to God.

Towards the end of the Confessions, Augustine wrote something that is often overlooked. He wrote, "In hope we are saved. Our hope is in God. We long for union with Him; and we trust that this union will be ours. We have a slight taste of this gift when we recognize the joy of His Presence in our lives. We look forward to being completely immersed with His Presence. That is why we cannot let anything deter us from the object of our hope. "He loves you too little who loves along with you anything else that he does not love for your sake he wrote. We can't have it both ways. We cannot be both Christian and pagan. We can't be moral in some areas and immoral in others. We can't love God if we love that which is opposed to all that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful. We do know how to love for the sake of God. You strive to do this in your marriages and families. I strive to do this in my priesthood. Your wives, your husbands, your children, my priesthood, my parish, the poor, the sick, the marginalized, and so on and so forth, all these we love these because others are given to us to draw us closer to God.

Listen now to Augustine's beautiful poem summing the Confessions of his life and perhaps so much of our lives: "Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace".

St. Augustine expresses the deep desire within every one of us. We also have tasted the Lord, and now we long for more. And it's there for us. More is there for us. God is there for us. God is here for us.

But we need courage. We need courage to step away from the allurements of the world. We need courage to divorce ourselves from the immorality that the intellectual fools of our society promote as normal. We need courage to fight against anything that can douse the fire of Love the Lord has kindled within each of us.

And so, we come to Church today, and we pray, "Lord, transform us into your people".
Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
22 Ordinary Time
Spiritual Warfare Week 11: Costly Grace
(September 3, 2017)

Message:Message: By costly grace we conform ourselves to the cross, not to our dominant culture.
This Sunday we wrap up our summer series on spiritual warfare: Strengthening Marriages and Families for Spiritual Warfare. For this final homily I would to take us back to the 1930's when a German pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a landmark book - the Cost of Discipleship. He rejected what he called "cheap grace" - the idea that it doesn't matter what I do as long as I am a nice guy. Instead of cheap grace Bonhoeffer insisted on the cost of discipleship. His life shows the cost. He could have come to America but he stayed in Germany to resist the Nazis from within. Eventually they arrested and executed him.

We need Bonhoeffer today especially as we hear Jesus say, "whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his across and follow me." Discipleship has a cost. It may not mean arrest, torture and execution - but it could. Take up your cross and follow me, says Jesus. We face what many call "white martyrdom." While we do not have physical attacks as do Christians in other countries, there is another persecution. The dominant culture has become more openly antagonist to Christians - portraying us as backward and narrow-minded, even bigoted or hateful. The words can sting like in the first reading where Jeremiah says, "I am an object of laughter, everyone mocks me." The derision can make young people reluctant to identify themselves as Christians.

So what should we do? Well, you and I are little people. We can't do much about those distortions. Most of them - like the ones I mentioned regarding faith and science - have been around for a long time. Still we should pray for Christians who do have a role in the media, universities and Hollywood. And in our own families seek out good reading, good entertainment and good schools for our children. St. Paul tells us to not conform ourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of mind. You know, many people avoid eating whatever is convenient. Shouldn't we take similar care about the media we consume? God wants to transform our minds.

Last week I mentioned the basic principle of body building - no pain, no gain. I haven't made much gain in that department. I do hope to do better in renewal of the mind This week I'm going to the Shakespeare Festival. It of course is a fun outing, a chance to spend time with my priest friend, Fr. Jim Coleman. About Shakespeare I can only say it does take effort to appreciate him. No pain, no gain. And there is a reason why many modern critics consider him essentially a Catholic playwright.

Even though I love Shakespeare I am not so concerned with leading anyone to him - but I do want to lead each one of you to Jesus. I want to help equip you for spiritual warfare. As we've seen it's not about constant combat. We can breathe deeply and rest in Jesus. On a deep level we can relax because Jesus has already won the victory. The powers of hell will not prevail against his community the Church.

Let me sum up with a quote from the Cost of Discipleship: "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ." In contrast to cheap grace, Bonhoeffer writes: "Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.' By costly grace we conform ourselves to the cross, not to our dominant culture. "Costly grace," concludes Bonhoeffer, "is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has." Amen.
Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
22 Ordinary Time
22nd Sunday of the Year, Modern

Lectionary 124
We start our life of faith with an image of the future that is idealized, as things often are in a child's eyes. If we are good and follow Jesus then the years and decades of life would be challenging but promising as we negotiate our trials with confidence, knowing that the grace of God will carry us forward. While this outlook sustains some folks throughout life, eventually many people encounter moments in life that are much more than challenging they can cause us to question the very truth of all that we have held dear.

Family tragedies, abuse by others, hypocritical people, and opposition from colleagues and friends can all lead to a deep sense of cynicism about religion in general and about faith in the Lord. The prophet Jeremiah faces just such a moment in today's first reading, as he shows through his angry words: "You duped me O Lord!" (Jer 20:7). Jeremiah was angered over the pain of having to deliver bad news to the people of Israel, announcing the downfall of Jerusalem and the end of the Kingdom of Judah. Such "defeatist" predictions, while they turned out to be true, led many to oppose him forcefully and even violently.

While the prophet Jeremiah remained faithful to the Lord even in the midst of his anger, when we suffer deep discouragement in life or experience a major breakdown we easily fall prey to cynicism and a jaundiced view of life. The scandals in the Church in recent decades, the betrayal of a spouse or friend, or even the closing and combining of our parishes can lead us to a spirit of sarcasm and suspicion and along the way we lose the hope-filled images we cherished as children. In today's second reading Saint Paul recognizes this possibility among Christians and he prescribes a remedy for it. In his letter to the Romans, having concluded a reflection on mercy, Paul says: "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (Rom 12:2).

Paul understood that the human spirit can be overtaken by cynicism, luring even Christian believers into thinking that real conversion and renewal is not possible. He also saw that "this age; that is, our secular world, draws us into this way of thinking and makes us reason that if we are not to be seen as then we must take a hardened outlook on others and on life itself. Such a perspective is foreign to believers in Jesus, whose mercy Paul extolls: "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!" (Rom 11:33). It is the transforming power of that mercy that enables us to defeat sarcasm and cynicism and live in Christian hope.

The gospel brings this message home when our Lord teaches his disciples that they will encounter great suffering in the course of their journey of faith and thus cannot be  about life. However, Jesus himself will suffer before them in order to redeem them and give them the possibility of living no longer according to the thinking of "this age"thinking not as God does, but as human beings do" (Matt 16:23)but rather being transformed into the image of him whose mercy triumphs over evil, and whose wisdom commends us to approach him not with a spirit hardened by the travails of life, but with the confidence of a child who cries out "Abba, Father!" Let us learn from Jesus and let mercy triumph over the evils committed against us, never falling into the trap of cynicism.
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic
Matthew 16: 21-27

Gospel Summary Caesarea Philippi, Jesus had questioned the disciples about his identity and Peter responded confidently, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). In today's gospel, we see how poorly Peter understood the true mission of Jesus. He still had to learn that God's ways are often not our ways.

When we When we hear the words, "Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer great and be killed and on the third day be raised," we recognize the familiar story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. But this was a story that the disciples had not even imagined. They expected a political Messiah and a new kingdom of David. They are stunned, therefore, by the words of Jesus. Jesus talked about resurrection indeed, but all they could hear was that Jesus would suffer and die and that their dreams would die with him.

When Peter tried to dissuade Jesus, he received a sharp rebuke, and was told that he must abandon human plans in favor of God's way of doing things. And God's way is first the way of the cross and then only the blessings of freedom and joy. This does not mean seeking pain, or even awaiting pain; it means simply trying to be a loving, caring person--something that will surely entail suffering, but which will also end in joy and fulfillment, as it did for Jesus.

Life Implications are all familiar with the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus and most of us know that in some general sense we must share in that experience. However, it is only when we are faced with the reality of a human life that is fragile and mortal that we begin to share the disciples' dismay. Death or betrayal or personal illness can suddenly bring home to us the reality of the cross and the need to let go of the dangerous illusion of happiness merely through the success of our human plans.

This doeThis does not mean, of course, that we should avoid making plans and working hard for their success. But it does mean that we should not become wedded to those plans to the extent that we cannot imagine success or happiness in some other scenario. Anyone who has lived very long will remember how once cherished plans sometimes had to be abandoned and how something much better often took their place. What we should strive for is an attitude that is both persistent and open to revision. Once we get used to dealing with occasional revision of our plans, we will be ready for the ultimate revision of plans which will be our dying something that can also be replaced by an outcome that is better than anything we could ever have planned.

In the meantime, we must avoid a false understanding of the meaning of the cross. It does not mean that suffering is good in itself but rather that the suffering that comes from loving is ultimately victorious and thus leads to a happiness that goes far beyond our wildest dreams. Moreover, for those of us who are facing the uncertainties of old age, suffering will simply be part of our trust in God's promises--something that can be very difficult, but which can also be suffused by the sweet experience of hope. We should often ponder those comforting words of the Letter to the Hebrews: "let us" persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping oue eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.

For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God" (12:1-2). We need to fix our eyes steadfastly on that illuminated horizon. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.
Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
22 Ordinary Time
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's extract from St Matthew's Gospel we see that Jesus has to give the Disciples some rather unpleasant news. It doesn't sound as though he found it very easy. Telling your group of friends that you are going to have to suffer and die would be difficult for anyone; and it certainly wasn't any easier for Jesus just because he was the Son of God.

AlthoughAlthough Jesus was surely aware of his destiny for most of his life and had no doubt managed to come to terms with what was ordained to happen, we know that he certainly found it difficult; and we only have to recall his words in the Garden of Gethsemane to realise the truth of this. On that occasion he spoke directly to his Father, 'Take this cup away from me, but not my will but yours be done.'

The first hurdle Jesus faced when giving this news to the Disciples was getting over their incredulity. They simply don't believe what Jesus is telling them. And this is directly expressed in the Gospel account of this event when Peter takes Jesus aside to remonstrate with him and tell him that this must not be allowed to happen. r /> Actually, we know from the Gospels that during the course of his public life Jesus had to predict his passion on several occasions and despite this the Disciples still didn't fully appreciate what he was saying to them.

Perhaps Perhaps a bit unfairly Jesus is rather short with Peter and uses some quite strong language. 'Get behind me Satan', he says. According to me, his choice of words reflects the human tension existing within Jesus as he tries to prepare the Disciples for the events that were to come.

All of us have to face difficult news during the course of our lives. Of course, we know that the people around us, and indeed that we ourselves, will eventually die. But knowing that this is going to happen doesn't make the loss any easier when we actually do experience the death of those who are close to us.

Even if, for example, our parents die in old age after a deeply fulfilling life it will still be difficult, and the depth of our bereavement will be profound. All sorts of feelings and emotions will come to the surface as we experience our loss and we may well find them rather difficult to deal with. The fact is that we human beings are not very good at long term planning and we often fail to take into account that which we know to be inevitable.

Our tendency is always to live for the moment and put off unpleasant things or those which are difficult to deal with. That's what the Disciples were doing; they were living in the moment and enjoying hanging around with Jesus listening to his extraordinary teaching and witnessing his remarkable miracles. We can forgive them for thinking that he was immortal. We can understand why Peter took Jesus aside to remonstrate with him.

Jesus' reaction to Peter's words are rather strongly expressed and, as we have seen, this may be because of his own human reaction in facing up to the difficult things that he knew would have to happen. We know from the doctrine of the Church that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. And so while we can appreciate that in his divinity Jesus was fully accepting of the Father's plan for the salvation of the world, in his humanity he must, like any of the rest of us, have struggled with his emotions.

The point of course is that Jesus came into this world for a purpose. He came among us not principally to perform miracles or even to teach us about the Kingdom of God, important though both of those things surely are. His principal purpose was to bring about our salvation. He came among us in order to die as the means by which he would break through the chains of sin and death and so open up for us the way to everlasting life.

As believing Christians we understand very well that the shadow of the Cross even falls across the scene of Christ's Nativity. We realise that this is the significance of the myrrh brought to him by the Wise Men. It was to anoint his body in death. From the outset then we realise that his death is the single reason why Christ came into our world.

In the Gospels, we see the Disciples as they follow Christ around Palestine; we observe how they accompanied him during his travels and we understand that those three years were a sort of apprenticeship for them. But it is their reaction to the Cross, to the three days in the tomb and then to the resurrection that makes them true Apostles. The student is never the teacher, the apprentice is never the engineer, the trainee is never the boss. In every profession, even those with many years of training, it is only once you graduate and actually begin to do the job by yourself that you really start to learn and to become what you have prepared so long for.

And it was no different for those Disciples. It was only once Christ had left them and the Holy Spirit impelled them out of that Upper Room to proclaim the Gospels by themselves that they began to become true Apostles. It was only then that they appreciated the content of the words spoken to them by Jesus, it was only then that they fully understood the significance of the prediction made by Jesus which is recorded in today's Gospel text.

Each of us has to go through a similar process. Like any other apprentice we have to learn the ropes, we have to master the basics and in our situation as Christians this means coming to an appreciation of the teaching of Christ and the content of the basic doctrines of the Church. And then we have to move from a passive learning role and into a more active and purposeful role as a missionary of Christ.

This is what ought to happen at the time of our Confirmation. But oftentimes this transition comes later and takes us by surprise; it is frequently only when we begin to have children of our own that we realise that we are going to have to teach them about Jesus and help them to learn how to pray. It is only then that we discover that we have now made the transition from Disciple to Apostle, from student to teacher, from apprentice to spiritual engineer.

If we look at the meaning of the words themselves we see that Disciple essentially means a follower, one who trails after his master and who passively listens to his words. While the word Apostle literally means someone who is sent, someone who has a mission, someone with an important message to proclaim.

Let each of us be sure that we do not remain merely passive Christians but that we become truly active ones, real Apostles in the world of today.
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