6 September 202023 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
23 Ordinary Time

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Cycle - Matthew 18:15-20

The Second Coming was history. The saved were partying in heaven. Missing was Jesus. Peter found Him at Heaven's gate. "Master, come for a glass of Dom Perignon." He replied, "Cephas, I'm waiting for Judas."

Abraham Lincoln said that only he has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.

A fellow crosses the street at the orange caution light. The traffic cop stops him. He discovers he is a fellow Irishman. Gently he says, "Your color like mine is green." The perp gets back on the curb. The light turns green. The man walks across. As he passes him, the cop says with a smile, "We don't give an Orangeman a chance around here." (Arthur Tonne)

To correct others well, when our responsibility. is an art form in rare supply. The day of Orwell's Big Brother and equally Big Sister are here. Who has not been bruised by authority figures? Each of us has left scars on others. Some were inflicted on family and friends. As the psychiatrist attests for $200 in his forty-five minute hour, the scars last. Our words inflict wounds for life. When our temper gets the best of us, it reveals the worst of us. It is better to bite your tongue than to have a biting tongue. Besides, the sins of others are before our eyes. Our own are behind our back. (Unknown)

Henry James was asked the three most important rules in the world. He replied, "The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."

The cop has much to teach us. He was not humiliating the pedestrian. Rather, he was emphasizing gently but firmly that he must cross on the green and not in between. He did not make a federal case out of the incident. He surrounded his reprimand with such good humor the guilty party could not fault it. The cop didn't find a fault; he found a remedy.

Mind what you say or you might say whatever comes to mind. (Unknown)

The policeman subscribed to Fulton Sheen's insight, "While it is possible to win the argument, your anger may lose the war." His intent was not to win a battle but to win over the offender. The cop believed that society is improved one life at a time.

Kindness is a language that the dumb can speak and the deaf understand. Correction does much. Encouragement does much more. It is sun to the soul. One word of praise can speak volumes. The smallest word of encouragement today is better than the largest intention to compliment tomorrow. Encouragement is oxygen for the soul. People who say something is unforgivable should get out of the way of people who forgive. (Unknown)

We do well to bring others up short with the same gentleness that we would hope they and God Himself would use on our dishonorable selves. A Persian proverb says a gentle hand may lead an elephant with a single thread. May ours be that gentle hand.

Putting others down should be but a portion of the punishment. For the Christian, the dressing down should be accompanied with forgiveness and, as Lincoln advised, the offer to help the other start again.

Count the number of people who encourage you. Don't worry. It won't take long. Then count the number of people you encourage. That won't take long either. We tell people to have a nice day, but we are reluctant to make it a nice day for them by paying a compliment or encouraging them. Why is that? Even Sigmund Freud could not answer that query. However, Freud would tell us our friendly neighborhood cop looked upon the guilty party as if he was what he ought to be. Thus, he helped him become what he should have been from the start.

So, the message on the couch pillow correctly reads, "Praise loudly and blame softly."

Jesus looked upon people and saw not terminal cases. Rather, He felt each had a shot at salvation. You cannot find anyplace in the Gospels where Jesus nixed somebody's plea for help.

If Christ won't give up on even on Judas, should we give up on people? He would be the first to advise us, "Never turn your back on any person. Miracles happen every day." Sometimes, the miracles are even worked by Christ through our encouraging words.

Ben Franklin tells us when we point a long bony finger at someone, there are three other bony fingers pointing at ourselves. Besides, love your enemies, for only they will tell you your faults.

Cold words freeze people. Hot words scorch them. Angry words make them angry. Kind words comfort them. (Blaise Pascal)

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
23 Ordinary Time

Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time: Minority Report

You heard the kids stirring this morning. You opened your eyes.  It can't be morning already. It's Sunday, I have to get them dressed. You wash up. You get the kids washed up. You throw the paper inside and try to keep the kids from killing each other over who gets the comics first. You get some breakfast on and get some coffee in yourself and cereal in the kids. You look at the clock. 8:45 already! “Get the kids in the car, we've got to go.” You drive down your street. You seem to be one of the few families stirring. Everyone else is going to have a relaxing breakfast. It hits you. We are in a minority on our block. We are one of the few families that goes to Church Sunday morning.

Five of you made the trip to corporate headquarters in Phoenix. The second night four of the others found dates; three of them are married, but their view is what their spouses did not know wouldn't hurt them. So you go to a movie and it is so clear to you, “I wouldn't even think of cheating; yet, I'm in the minority.”

You are among ninety-six of the most brilliant college graduates who have been accepted to a particular medical school. Your excitement includes finally getting to study to be a doctor; as well as the new way you have to frame your life with an off campus apartment in a quiet area so you can study in the few hours you are not in class. You ask for the location of the nearest Church and find that there are only three others of the 96 who even believe in God. You are in the minority.

Most of the people in the office you work in do go to Church. About half of them are Catholic. You are shocked when someone talks about abortion and says, "Well, I'm Catholic, but I don't go along with what the Church is saying on abortion." Everyone else seems to be agreeing with the person. You are in the minority.

The sociology teacher in the high school asks, "How many of your families are active members of some Church or synagogue?" Less than ten of the 35 in the class raise their hands. You suddenly realize that you are in the minority.

Perhaps some of these situations or others like them have occurred in your life. Perhaps they occur frequently. Perhaps you have wondered, “Why am I the one in the minority. Why am I getting up early on Sunday morning when the rest are sleeping in? Why am I the one who is alone at the movie when others are out having a good time? Why am I the only one in Med School who structures Church into my crowded week? Why am I the only one who accepts the Church's teaching on abortion? Why is my family the only family going to Church?”

When questions like this disturb us, we have to remember, Jesus never promised that we would be in the majority. He just promised that he would be with us always.

The Gospel of Matthew revolves around this very theme. Jesus is with us, even if we seem to be just a small, insignificant number. In the beginning of Matthew, Jesus is called Emmanuel, the name that means, "God is with his people." The last words of the gospel are "Know that I am with you even until the end of time." Moreover, in the middle of the Gospel we have the concluding words of today's reading. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

We go to Church because we believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in his presence in Word and Sacrament. We need his presence in our families. We come to Church to get our spiritual batteries charged with the grace of his scriptural and sacramental presence. We come so we can have the courage to make it through another week, especially if we are called upon to stand for our faith. We come so we can pray, "Lord, my life is difficult at times, but you called us to marriage, you made me a father or mother, help me to answer your call well."We come to pray for others, "Lord, may the people on my block nourish the place you must have in their families. Lord, may the people at work learn to honor, value, and respect their marriages. Lord, may the others in med school learn that without you, medicine is a science without direction, Lord, may other Catholics stand behind your spirit in the Church, and Lord, may my family and the families of all in my high school class grow closer to you." And we come to receive the grace to live our lives in a way that proclaims the presence of the Lord on earth.

Our Church is big, but there are not many attending Mass in comparison to those who won't attend Church. We are, and will always be in the minority. But Jesus Christ never promised us that we would be in the majority. He just promised that he would be with us always. 

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* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
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