7 July 201914 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
14 Ordinary Time
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
Luke 10, 1-12,17-20

Did you ever hear the story of the twenty dollar bill and the one dollar bill? They finally met in the US Treasury. After a long life, they had come to the end of their usefulness and were about to be destroyed. The twenty speaks, "I don't mind. I've had a good run. I have been in many excellent restaurants. I've been on great vacations. I've seen wonderful theater in my day." Then the twenty asks the one dollar bill "How about you, pilgrim? What kind of a time have you had?" Downcast, the one dollar bill responded, "Lousy! I've spent most of my life at the bottom of collection baskets in Catholic churches." We laugh at this story, but the laugh is on us.

In verse 4 of today's Gospel, Jesus addresses the disciples, whom He is sending out into the field, "Carry no purse, no backpacks, no sandals." Many people like to think that Jesus was endorsing poverty for His missionaries. But that is not the case at all. Rather, He is telling them that those among whom they labor will supply them with purses, backpacks, and sandals. In a word, He was encouraging His followers to be generous to those working among them.

And, should anyone miss His point, The Teacher says in verse 7, "The laborer deserves his wages." The former carpenter, who Himself had no doubt been cheated by deadbeat clients in Nazareth, was saying to contemporary Catholics, "Just as you pay the plumbers and house-painters who work in your home, support my messengers who build your spirits and my Church."

How does this advice from the Teacher compare with the facts? A recent study showed that while the average Catholic family donates 1% of its income to the church, its counterpart in the Presbyterian church is giving 2.2% or more. That is of course two times what the Catholic family gives.

And, if anybody is anxious to take a guilt trip, do consider that the Mormons give 10% of their income to their church. And oftentimes they give two years of their lives working as missionaries.

Or how about this mind-boggling statistic? It is estimated that two million Seven Day Adventists give more money to their church for the missions than 800 million Catholics around the globe.

So, as somebody has put it, while most Catholics are willing to give God credit, too few are willing to give Him cash.

When was the last time you saw a BINGO sign outside a Mormon temple or a Presbyterian church? We Catholics do seem to have the market sewn up on that dubious adventure. I know of a Catholic parish that has four bingos weekly. One unhappily can argue that in the popular mind at least bingo is the fifth mark of the Church.

A comedian has been quoted as saying on national TV, "I knew I had pulled up in front of a Catholic church. As soon as I turned off the ignition, parishioners rushed out and began to raffle my car off." He of course got a big laugh. However, what kind of laughter would he have gotten had he substituted Presbyterian or Mormon for Catholic? I think we all know.

Our immigrant parents left to us as their legacy in the USA the largest parochial school system the world has ever witnessed. And yet we, who have more money than our parents ever dreamed of, are allowing that same system to slowly disintegrate. Our schools are threatening to go the way of the dinosaurs and the dodo bird. What will generations to come say of us, do you think? I wager they will be much less than kind.

The loser in all this is Jesus. We expend so much enthusiasm on cake sales, carnivals, etc that we have little strength left to get His message out to people. His life is called the greatest story ever told. But we have no time to tell it.

Yet, do check today's Gospel. When He sent out the seventy two disciples, He did not instruct them to become blackjack dealers or pit men. Quite the contrary! He instructs His people in verse 2 to harvest the souls quickly that are waiting for them.

We should reflect long and hard on Rousseau's dictum, "When a man dies, he carries in his clutched hands only that which he has given away."

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
14 Ordinary Time
Fourteenth Sunday: Boasting in the Cross

"May I never boast save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Galatians 6:14.

This is quite a change. St. Paul is speaking positively about boasting. I thought boasting was bad. I thought we were never supposed to boast. I mean, I know that last year I was conceited and that this year I'm perfect, but I also know that it is wrong to boast about it. Is there ever a time when boasting is OK, even good?

Well, boasting is certainly bad when it is the self-centered, egomaniacal ranting of a tortured soul who bases his or her value on the opinions of others. But boasting is not bad when it reflects its original meaning of rejoicing in something that is good.

St. Paul had reason to boast. And it was not over what he did for the Lord. Paul was a little powerhouse who brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to tens of thousands of people throughout the Roman Empire. But Paul would not boast in this, or in anything he did. He would not rejoice in his accomplishments. But Paul did boast. He boasted in the Cross of Jesus Christ. He rejoiced that Jesus Christ died for him. He rejoiced that because of the cross, he was a new creation. He rejoiced, boasted, in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we join St. Paul and rejoice in the cross of Jesus Christ. We boast with Paul that we have been saved from sin, saved from a meaningless, empty life, saved from running towards nothing, saved from being an insignificant blip on the radar of humanity. We join Paul in rejoicing that we have become a New Creation.

What does that mean, "new creation?" That means exactly what it sounds like. We have become new beings. We are not just physical. Due to the cross of Jesus Christ, we are spiritual. We have received His Life within us. We can live forever if we live in Him. We rejoice that we are not "of this world." We are holy. We are set apart for God. That is what it means to be holy.

Our God wants us. Our God loves us. Our God empowers us. Our God is with us. We belong to Him. We are so united to Him that we are united to His sacrificial love on the cross. And we rejoice in this union with Jesus. We boast in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have been branded by Christ. The cattlemen of the Old West would brand their steer to declare their ownership. We have been branded by Christ. He has declared His ownership of us. We have been branded with the Cross. Paul says that he bore in his body the marks of Jesus Christ. It is tempting to dismiss this as referring to Paul having the stigmata. There is no record of this. Other Christians would have spoken about Paul bleeding from his hands and feet and side as St. Francis, St. Padre Pio and so many others would do. What Paul is referring to is this: he bore the ownership of Christ in His Life. He lived the sacrificial love of the Cross. He lived for the kingdom, suffered for the Kingdom and would die for the Kingdom. The only thing that Paul would boast about is the love of Jesus Christ, the sacrificial love of the Lord, the Cross.

We also bear on our bodies the marks of Jesus Christ. We have been branded by the Lord. That brand is our sharing in His sacrificial love. We boast in the Cross of the Lord. We find joy in sharing the sacrificial love of the Lord. So we are mocked for not joining immorality, we are kept down in work or school for not seeking advancement by stepping on others. It hurts when people laugh at us for being committed Catholics. But we still rejoice. We rejoice in the opportunities we have to love as Jesus loved. We boast in the cross of the Lord.

We rejoice in that we can be Christ for others. St. Teresa of Avila wrote:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

How great is that! We are a new creation We are Christ for others. We are Christians. We are Catholics. It is as Catholics that we receive the strength to boast in the Cross, the strength to bear the wounds of the Lord.

Isaiah 66 says, "Rejoice in the Lord, Jerusalem" and then uses the imagery of the people nursing at a mother's abundant breasts. This is a prophesy of the Catholic Church. The Church is our mother, feeding us, sustaining us. It is through the Church that we receive the sacraments. It is through the Church that we receive the Word. It is through the Church that we serve Christ's Presence in the poor and suffering of the world. And there is plenty to go around. Mother Church's breasts are abundant. We receive communion weekly, if not daily. We need the Eucharist to be able to boast in the Lord. We receive penance regularly, We need the sacrament of compassion to fend off the attacks of the devil. Your marriages are not just celebrated in the Church. They are unions your lives to the Love of Christ so that husbands and wives can be Christ for each other. My priesthood is not my job. It is who I am. Priests are transformed with an indelible mark to be alter Christi's so the people of God can be united to Christ through Word and Sacrament. We have so much. We have been given so much. And the Lord wants to give us so much more.

And so we rejoice. We rejoice with 72 who felt the power of God working through them. We join them on their return to the Lord, loud, yelling their joy. We join Jesus in yelling right along with them, along with us.

Sin has lost it's power
Death has lost its sting.
From the grave You've Risen

Into a marvelous light I'm running
Out of darkness, out of shame
Through the cross, You are the truth.
You are the life.
You are the way. (Charlie Hall Marvelous Light CCLI License # 2368115)

And so we boast in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For through the Cross we have become a new creation.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
14 Ordinary Time
Good and Bad Pride
(July 7, 2019)

Bottom line: We can have a good pride in our nation. As Christians of course we do not look to our country for salvation.

It's a little belated but I do wish each of you a happy Fourth of July. I want to talk about patriotism in relation to Bible teaching. I begin with a personal anecdote.

When I was a missionary in Peru there was a lot of anti-Americanism. It wasn't directed against me personally, but it was definitely in the air. One day graffiti appeared on a wall: Yankee, go home, it said. That night I felt bad. Next day the same graffiti was there: Yankee, go home. But someone had written below. And take me with you!

That illustrates two feelings about our country. On one hand we have past sins that still haunt us. At the same time most of us feel grateful to belong to this country. Many consider us the most desirable country because of our opportunities, our abundance, our freedom.

Others don't enjoy that freedom. Last week I mentioned the seven Romanian bishops who the government arrested, imprisoned without trial and tortured. That kind of arbitrary treatment is still common in many countries today. Many look to us as a beacon - and a magnet.

Again, when I was in Peru they surveyed young people about their dreams. As you can imagine many said they dreamed about becoming a professional or starting their own business. But the biggest dream was (pause) to come to the United States.

For sure, the U.S. is not paradise. European immigrants who left the old country imagined they were going to the Garden of Eden - a place without original sin. Well, they quickly discovered this country has many sins. Still America gave great opportunities to people like my ancestors who came from Norway and Croatia.

I am grateful to and proud of our country. In saying that I want point out that the Bible has two different meanings for the word "pride". One type of pride we should reject, the other embrace. In the Bible pride often means that smug feeling of superiority, thinking that other people are stupid in comparison to me.

Next Sunday we hear about a man who thinks he is more clever than Jesus. Big mistake - as we shall see. Pride often has disastrous results. The Bible says, "pride goes before the fall". Jesus warns that the person who exalts himself will be humbled.

Paul had a lot of things that he could be proud of: his Hebrew heritage, his knowledge of the Scriptures, his enormous labor, but today we hear him say he only wants to boast in the cross of Christ. He takes no pride in the things this world values.

At the same time Paul acknowledges a place for a good pride. He tells the Corinthians that he takes great pride in them. (7:4) I can say something similar about you. I have been with you ten years now and I take pride in you.

This can be a little tricky. Sometimes you hear parents bragging about their children, but you get a feeling they're bragging about themselves. On the other hand, we can also sense gratitude for blessings and that they don't want to keep the blessings for themselves. We are glad, for example, that their child aspires to be a police officer, a health care professional or a priest.

When I take pride in you I hope it's because of gratitude for the blessings we have received and the desire to extend them. Something similar applies to patriotism - pride in our nation. Next week we will hear about a man who with humility extended his blessings to an unfortunate person.

While mentioning my pride in you, I hope you will also have pride in me, even as I recognize my own sins. I hope you can say, "Come to St. Mary of the Valley. We have a pastor who loves us and cares for us. We have a pastor who lifts up Jesus." In the Gospel Jesus sends disciples to be disciple makers. Being disciple makers involves having an admiration for each other - that good sense of pride.

Like St. Paul a priest can take pride in his parishioners - and parishioners in their priest. Parents can have good pride in their children - and children in their parent. Just so we can have a good pride in our nation. As Christians of course we do not look to our country for salvation. Like Paul we ultimately boast only in the cross.

With that in mind we can say:
God bless American land that I love...

And we can pray:
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law!


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

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
14 Ordinary Time
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us how Jesus sent the twelve apostles out on a preaching tour to prepare the people for the coming of the Kingdom of God. But only Luke gives us this account of a very similar preaching expedition involving seventy-two disciples.

The number of disciples is, of course, symbolic. Six twelves are seventy-two. If we look in Chapter Ten of the Book of Genesis we see a big list of the descendants of Noah with seventy-two names and it is said that all the tribes of the earth are descended from them.

From this we can see that Luke is using this number seventy-two to indicate that every single person has the responsibility to be a disciple. It is not the task of a privileged group, a clerical caste. No the responsibility for evangelisation belongs to us all.

And more than this, according to Luke all the tribes of the earth are to be evangelised without exception. The Jews of his day thought that salvation was something only for themselves. They believed that since they were the Chosen People this meant that only they would be saved.

They could not have been more wrong. Their privileged status as the Chosen People actually meant that the Messiah would come from among them and that they would be the first to have the Gospel preached to them. It did not mean that everyone else was to be excluded. Their privileged role was to be a beacon of hope for all the nations of the world not a cosy club of privileged saints.

A similar mistake is being made by many Protestant sects today. Unity is one of the most important aspects of Catholicism but this is not so for the Protestants, they are by nature prone to fragmentation. Their Churches frequently split over minor points of doctrine. As time goes on the number of Protestant sects naturally tends to increase.

In my home town in Scotland there was a row of four or five Protestant Churches backing on to the canal which ran through the town. Each one had broken away from the other. Ultimately, of course, they could all trace their line of descent to having broken away initially from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation.

Consequently these Churches ended up with smaller and smaller congregations until some comprised only of one family who believed that only they were saved and the rest of humanity was consigned to eternal damnation. This is the very same mistake that the Jewish people made over two-thousand years ago.

St Luke tells us that Jesus gave the seventy-two disciples some very specific instructions about how to do the job. They were not to be distracted or to take material possessions with them and they were to depend on those to whom they were sent for their living.

Their mission was to bring peace and healing and encouragement to those to whom they were sent. They weren't to waste any time on unbelievers but to move on to those who would make them welcome.

These seventy-two disciples were indeed very successful and returned to the Lord with joy in their hearts. Christ rejoices with them but even then warns them not to let their heads be turned by their achievements but rather to take joy in the fact that their names are written in heaven.

The story of these disciples and their mission is given to us by St Luke to remind us all that we have the same mission. He is telling us that this is not a matter of choice but is an essential element of the Christian life.

We are not sent to the villages of Galilee but to the people who live around us. We are sent to our families, to our neighbours and to those we work with.

Parents evangelise their children and children evangelise their parents. Brother evangelises sister and sister evangelises her brother. Each one of us is called to this task and without it we can hardly call ourselves Christian.

This does not mean that we should be preaching the Gospel in the same way as a priest does on a Sunday. Of course not, but there are all kinds of different ways we can communicate the essentials of the faith to those around us. Sometimes it is just by upholding the simplest traditions of our religion like saying grace before meals or remembering our night prayers.

We are able to carry out this mission of evangelisation in our ordinary conversation by upholding what is right and true; we can do it by avoiding negative and destructive chatter; we can find ways in which we are able to build up rather than pull down. The point is not to become a Holy Joe but rather to become someone who is authentic and genuine in all that you do.

I think that this genuineness is really important. It is by living a truly worthy life, by caring for others, by maintaining a certain integrity in our lives; by doing these things we become authentic human beings and faithful citizens of the Kingdom of God.

It is by demonstrating these qualities to those around us that we become effective Disciples of Christ. It is by showing others what it is to be truly human that, without knowing it, we give them an idea of what being a follower of Christ is all about.

So St Luke is encouraging us to take up our responsibility as one of Christ's disciples and to carry out this special task of evangelisation. He himself by the very act of writing the text of his Gospel is putting his own gifts at the service of transmitting the message of Christ to the world.

Each one of us has our own gifts and talents and we too can put these at the service of the Gospel. We all have our own unique abilities and particular gifts and these can be used to make the world a better place and to bring light and love into our world.

By carrying out this evangelical mission we give an invaluable gift to the people around us. We enable them to find salvation through a unique encounter with Christ.

And not only this, because this great gift is reciprocal; when we open to others the joy of the Gospel we end up by deepening our own faith. Those who hear our message enable us to experience it more deeply and so we end up becoming better disciples of Christ.

This is a deeply affirming process, it is a positive cycle and we all come out the better for it. So take up this task, think of yourself as one of those seventy-two disciples and rejoice that, as with them, the devils submit to you and that you bring salvation and healing to all those you encounter.
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