3 March 20198 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
8 Ordinary Time
""8th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
Luke 6, 39-45

The poet Author Unknown writes: "I dreamt death came the other night and heaven's gate swung wide. With kindly grace an angel came and ushered me inside. And there, to my astonishment, stood folks I'd known on earth. Some I had judged `most unfit' and others of `little worth.' Indignant words rose to my lips but never were set free. For everyone showed stunned surprise: no one expected me." Would that we might see ourselves as others, even those who love us, see us! We would all be much humbler and more attractive pilgrims. Planet earth would be a happier place to live on. Recall the times you have been driving on the highway. There in front of you is a huge eighteen wheeler. On its rear door there is a message for you. "If you find any fault with my driving, call toll-free 1 800 CRI TIGUE. Call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Oh, and thanks" The company that owns the rig obviously wants not only to protect its image but also, when necessary, to improve same. It is well aware that "room for improvement is the largest room in the world." Would that we were as anxious to polish our own selves! Smugly many among us feel we are perfect. Even before one can whisper the word "hypocrite," we are able to loudly pick off the speck of dust that is in our brother's or sister's eye. Socrates advised us to know ourselves. Few of us do. If we did, we would be most loath to run others around the track and unfailingly find them wanting.

In an eighteenth century church in the United States, there was a parishioner called the Pointer. When the preacher stressed a particular vice, it was the Pointer's job to call out the name of the person present guilty of same. Many of us would have loved that assignment. We would have been good at it too. Hypocrisy someone wrote receives ample wages but truth goes a-begging. It is a pity that somehow we cannot wear a toll-free 800 number ourselves or at least have an 800 spirit. Unhappily there are far too few of us who are genuinely willing to accept an honest critique - even from superiors whether they be teacher or employer or parent or whoever. Should they criticize us, we immediately accuse them of having an attitude problem. Instinctively people can tell whether we are in the business of accepting constructive criticism or play-acting at being perfect. After criticism, many of us act out with anger or seething resentment. Whenever possible, we not only get mad but also we get even. If necessary, we will wait years to settle a score. It is not the Mafia alone who put contracts out on people. But this is hardly the attitude that Jesus has in mind in today's Gospel. Beware too of excessive and sharp criticism when in authority.

The story is told of the office manager who sent out a memo to her fellows. She advised them in unnecessarily strong language to avoid bad syntax and misspelled words. Quietly her workers placed the memo on the desk of her superior. But, before doing so, they underlined with a bold red pen three incorrectly spelled words. I do submit that our subordinates can often do something similar to us when we grandly but very unwisely play the grand lord and roughly critique their behavior. "Physician," said our Leader, "cure thyself." William Barclay's limerick puts the case in this fashion. "There is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it ill becomes any of us to find fault with the rest of us." Instead of going about criticizing, why do we not look for opportunities to give genuine compliments? Heda Bejar promises, "The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose." How do we go about proving to others Christianity is the way to go? The only infallible method is to establish what it has done for me. If I am a person who places a strict guard on his or her tongue, others will be attracted. If I am an individual who does not immediately bristle with indignation at a correction from an authority, that point will not be lost on those about me.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
8 Ordinary Time
Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino Please

Note. In the Diocese of St. Petersburg this Sunday will be "Safe Haven Sunday", our Diocesan initiative to aid our parents and all parishioners in the fight against pornography. Those from the Diocese of St. Petersburg can find excellent homily helps and a full homily published by the Diocese: https://www.dosp.org/freedom-from-porn/safe-haven-sunday/. Below is a homily for the 8th Sunday for those who are not participating in Safe Haven Sunday. Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Some Aphorisms of the Lord This is the Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Usually, Lent would have begun by now, but this year it is late. Also, when we return to ordinary time in June, we usually begin with the 9th or 10th Sunday of the year, so poor number 8 rarely is celebrated. The readings for today are full of aphorisms. An aphorism is an adage, or a tersely phrased statement of the truth. Let's look at three of the aphorisms found in t he Gospel of Luke. "Can a blind man act as a guide to a blind man. Will they not both fall into a ditch?" People cannot teach until they have learned. This is true in every aspect of life, but particularly in the Church. In the Catholic Church we are blessed with a teaching authority. This authority is often given the Latin word for teacher and called the magisterium.

The magisterium consists in the Pope, the Bishops, theologians and consultants. The duty of the magisterium is to set the course for us to relate our faith and morals to the evolving times. We take this for granted because most of us have always been Catholic and have always had the body of our faith presented in a rather neat package. But dogmatic statements didn't just happen. They evolved over many centuries as the Church continues to grow in its understanding of itself. The magisterium does not just exist among the hierarchy. It also exists in the home among the confirmed. Those who have received the sacrament of confirmation have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to grow in their understanding of the faith. When, as all human beings, we have times of doubt, or times that we have difficulty understanding what we believe or why we believe, we have to go to books and knowledgeable people in the area. We also have to go to our knees and pray to Holy Spirit to help us grow in faith. The blind cannot lead the blind. That is why we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit.

That is why we have the magisterium. "Why look at the speck in your brother's eye when you miss the plank in your own?" Psychologist might restate this second aphorisms in these terms: we tend to transfer our irritation over our own failings to others. So we decry another person's faults as a way of hiding our own. The Lord was quite a psychologist when he said, "First deal with your own faults." When we go through those negative days when everything other people do irritates us, we have to take a step back and consider what we are doing that upsets others, and, even more, what we are doing that upsets ourselves. "A good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit. Each tree is known by its yield."

The final aphorism is that each tree is known by its fruit. When a person does good things, we know this is a good person. When a person is continually stirring up trouble, we know that this person is troubled. The fruit reveals the person. In the same way, it is not enough for us to say we are saved and then live as pagans. In fact, it is not enough to say we are saved. What we need to say is that we are being saved, in the process of being saved. Our actions must reflect God's gift to us. If they don't, then we are in fact rejecting his salvation. Yes, we always depend upon the mercy of God, but we have to respond to this mercy by doing our best to live the Christian life. If we don't than our fruits, our actions will demonstrate the insincerity of our conversion. This Wednesday Lent begins. I need this Lent. Perhaps you do too. Lent is a time for us to grow in our faith life, let the magisterium and Holy Spirit guide us. Lent is a time for us to look into ourselves. How is the upset we have with others a reflection of our own faults? Lent is a time to consider our living of the Christian life. Do our actions demonstrate Christ's continuing conversion in our lives? May you and I allow God to take control of every aspect of our lives.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
8 Ordinary Time

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
8 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
8 Ordinary Time
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Are we in the Church like those fellows in Jesus' parable today: the blind leading the blind? Are we in the Church simply hoodwinking ourselves? Are we, as some would say, a collection of poor individuals so insecure that we cling on to the merest hope of something beyond this world? Our detractors say that we are deceiving ourselves. But we do not hold onto belief in God as if we were clinging to the wreckage of a sinking ship. We have, most of us, come to faith through deep inner conviction. It started off, in many cases, in our childhood and grew in us through our adolescence and adulthood. Our faith is in Jesus Christ. It is an adult faith. It is a demanding faith. It brings us many struggles and conflicts of conscience. But it has borne fruit in our lives, and this is undoubtedly good fruit. Because of our faith we know that we are now much better people than we would ever have been without it. This is not hypocrisy; it is a simple fact. Our lives have a long way to go yet, and our faith is continually tested and very frequently our words and actions let us down severely. However, we are still disciples realising that we have a lot to learn and we know that this will always be the case. But in the words of Paul in the second reading today, 'we keep working at the Lord's work; knowing that, in the Lord, we can never labour in vain.' In today's Gospel there are three distinct elements to Christ's teaching.

The first is the one we have just looked at about the blind leading the blind. Then comes the teaching about removing the splinter from your own eye and then follows the teaching about the sound tree producing good fruit. The Evangelist Luke has brought these three fragments of Christ's teaching together because they are interrelated and because one seems to naturally follow the other. The fragment about the splinter is particularly salutary. We are all too well aware of just how easy it is for us to see the faults of others while remaining blind to our own inadequacies. Our eyes look outwards from our bodies and we see very clearly what is all around us. In particular we see the mistakes other people make and we are easily alert to their hypocrisies and inadequacies. It is not so easy to look inwards at ourselves. We are so immersed in our own lives that we find it difficult to observe our own deceptions and human faults. We fail to notice that we fall well short of the standards we expect from others. The way to overcome this problem is to cultivate the interior life. By the words 'interior life' we mean in particular our own spiritual awareness. By spending more time reflecting on God and on our relationship with him we become more and more aware of our personal inadequacies.

We acquire a deeper sensitivity to what it is we are actually doing. We become more conscious of our own actions and on the effects they have on others. The more spiritually sensitive we become the more we realise the impact of our actions on God and on the people around us. Running alongside this growing awareness comes the realisation of how to lead our lives in a better way. We gradually come to an understanding not just of what our faults are but how to rectify them. We find ourselves in what we could call an interior first-aid station. The first-aider always has first to see what the problem is and only then can they do what is needed to allow healing to take place. The same goes for us. We have to come to an accurate awareness of our failings before we can begin to rectify them. We develop this interior life by spending more time in prayer. But not just prayer, because in order to go deep into our interior selves we need to spend time in meditation. I'm not talking here about some kind of trance like state that comes from reciting mantras or other such things. I'm simply talking about spending time alone with God. Some people find meditation very difficult, they find it hard to be alone without anything to do. They are not comfortable in their own company. It has been well said that if you cannot spend periods of time with yourself then how can it be reasonable to expect other people to spend time with you? What I am talking about is adding a bit of time to your normal daily prayers. Say your prayers as you would normally and then simply add to them ten minutes of silence.

During this time do or say nothing, allow yourself to become still, being aware only of the God who surrounds you. During this time simply open yourself to his love and allow yourself to bathe in it. Spending moments such as these in meditation on a fairly regular basis over a long period of time will allow you to develop a deeper interior life. You will become, not perfect, but certainly more understanding of the effects your actions have on others. You will discover that you find yourself concentrating more on removing the splinters from your own eye rather that pointing out the splinters in everyone else's. Our aim in life ought to be to become like that sound tree we heard of in today's Gospel which produces good fruit. We want to live our lives as true Apostles of Jesus Christ. We want to be ministers of his Word in the world. We want to serve the Lord in the best way we can. In order to do these things we need to look into our own lives, to see our own faults and aim to overcome them. We do not want to become plaster cast saints. No, we want to become robust human beings, but ones who serve the Lord with all our hearts and who make a real contribution to the world.

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