13th Sunday - homily
We are going to have a contest on the blog site this week. Anyone who is interested in entering the contest can go to the blog site, and leave a comment which contains at least three (3) excuses we give Jesus. We hear about excuses in today’s Gospel when Jesus says, “Follow me”. One person says, ‘ok, but I need to take care of some family business first’. Another says, ‘I need to say goodbye to people first’. Jesus is saying, ‘I know what you have going on in your life, and follow me….right now…at this point in your life. Trust me’.
So, when you leave a comment with your excuses, please make sure to include your name somewhere on the comment. We will have a judge(s) from our staff, and will award a prize to the best list of excuses. The winner will receive a $50 gift card to Outback Steakhouse in Aspen Hill. We will award the prize at the end of the week.
I have my own list of excuses: a Top Ten List of Excuses we give Jesus. This isn’t like a David Letterman Top Ten List…it’s more like God’s Top Ten List of Commandments. The Top Ten Excuses we give Jesus, especially when He says, “Follow me”:
10. I don’t have time
9. The person I’m dating will dump me.
8. I’ll do it when I get older (I’m having too much fun right now)
7. I’ll let you know
6. I give to charity – isn’t that enough?
5. I don’t know what my friends would think
4. I’m too young
3. I’m too busy
2. I’ll do it…tomorrow
1. I am afraid
Jesus doesn’t want our excuses; He wants our hearts. He doesn’t want our excuses; He wants a commitment. We are afraid to commit to Him because we know it will be hard. We know that we will have to sacrifice in some way. One commenter on today’s Gospel wrote, “ploughing for the Kingdom of God requires sacrifice”. We know that Jesus says that one of the first things we need to do if we follow Him is carry our cross. We need to endure some kind of suffering and pain. Who wants to do that? But, following Christ doesn’t end on the Cross; the complete command from Christ is likely, “Follow me…to happiness”.
We are afraid to commit fully to Jesus because we want to stay in our comfort zones. Yet, he committed fully to us by coming out of his comfort zone. Think about his comfort zone: He was in Heaven, at the throne of God. He came down to Earth, and had nowhere to lay his head! He had nowhere to sleep, in his poverty.
Examples of people who went our of their comfort zones to follow Christ are the Apostles. Jesus said, “Follow me” to each one of them. They didn’t respond with, “We’ll do it tomorrow”. They dropped everything to follow him, immediately. When God revealed His Plan to Mary that she would become the mother of His Son, she didn’t say, “I’m only a teenager”. She said yes. The Gospel demands a response, not an excuse. Christ’s command to follow him demands a response, not an excuse.
Now, with the Eucharist, and this is something that I have studied for many years, I think many people don’t believe in the Eucharist because they know they will have to change their lives. On a practical level, they know that they have to be in a state of Grace to receive the Body of Christ into their bodies and souls. They have to be clean and pure in order to receive Him, and maybe have to go to Confession first. In general, though, they know they have to live in close friendship with Him because He is so close to them in the Eucharist. They will have to clean up their lives, and go out of their comfort zones.
Whenever we move toward Christ, we move toward happiness. He is our happiness. When he says, “Follow me”, he is saying, “Follow me to happiness. Follow me to joy…to peace…to love. Yes, it will require sacrifice and it will be hard. But, ultimately, follow me to Heaven”.