26th Sunday - Homily
Yesterday, I officiated a beautiful wedding in Ocean City. It was a young Catholic couple who a friend of mine hooked me up with a year ago. They are really good people but when I first met them, they had some things to work on in their relationship with Christ and with each other. To see them grow closer to Christ in the past year has been awesome! They have been open to God’s Grace, and experienced a real conversion. They are so much happier now than a year ago, and were able to enjoy yesterday so much more.
In relation to today’s readings, two examples from yesterday come to mind. The first is the friend who directed this couple to see me. Now, he knew that I would address the issues they had to work out; he knew I wouldn’t sweep them under the rug or something. He knew that they needed to go Christ and his minister with their issues. He lived out the call that we hear in the first reading -Book of Numbers, Chapter 11. It’s a call for each of us to be a prophet. It’s a call to show people the ways of God. It’s a call to lead people to Christ.
The second example happened after the wedding. A young woman who participated in the wedding talked with me for a while about her relationship with her boyfriend. She’s been going out with him for five years, but hasn’t been going to Church since they started dating. He stopped going to Church a while agon, claiming to be all “churched-out” after going to Catholic grade school and high school. Now, he is a nice guy who is a lot of fun. But, whether he knows it or not, he is leading her away from Christ. She was very upset because she wants to go to Church with him, and have that as a big part of their relationship.
Jesus says we will receive a reward based on how well we have led others to Him in this life. Those who have spoken for Him, done great things in His name, and led others to Him will surely receive their reward and be great in the kingdom of Heaven. But, for those who lead others away from Him and into sin, well, it’s not good. He says that for someone who leads another to sin it is better that they are cast into the sea with a millstone around their neck! And then, to add to that, he talks about Gehanna three times.
Gehenna was a ravine south of Jerusalem which had continually burning fires. It symbolized a place of torment for the wicked. It is an image of Hell, eternal punishment. Jesus speaks of Gehenna and Hell often in the Gospel so that we won’t go there! He is saying that whatever our serious sin is, we need to get rid of it. If it’s skipping Mass on Sunday, then you need to stop that. Go to Church with your girlfriend, and don’t lead her to sin. Be a prophet for Christ and lead others to Him.
One of the most tangible ways to be a prophet for Christ is to lead others to the Eucharist. It can start right here at Mass by having a great love for the Eucharist. If we are prayerful here and participate in the liturgy, then we will lead those around us to a great love for worshiping Christ in the Eucharist. But, if we are goofing around, talking, or maybe even playing on our cell phone, then we distract others and lead them away from having a great respect for the Eucharist.
We are called to lead people to Christ. When we lead them to Him, we lead them to God’s Love. We lead them God’s Peace and Joy. He has great love for each and every one of us. May you know His love this day.