Sunday, August 26, 2007

21st Sunday - homily

Probably my favorite all-time TV show is “Cheers” which ran in the 80s and 90s. It was a funny show, a sitcom that took place in a bar in Boston. There were many interesting characters – bartenders, waitresses, and patrons. One of the waitresses was Carla who was Catholic and had many children. Carla had a very interesting spirituality, to say the least. During one episode, one of Carla’s teenage sons expressed a strong interest in becoming a priest. Carla began to think, ‘hey, if my son becomes a priest, that is my ticket to heaven. I can do whatever I want!’

So, Carla began doing whatever she wanted. She did all kinds of stuff, including many mean things to people. When they asked her why she did it, she said, ‘hey, what does it matter? My son is going to be a priest’. Well, towards the end of the episode, her son came to see her with a new girlfriend. Carla became a bit scared, and asked him, “Umm..what happened to the priesthood?” “Oh, come on, Mom”, he said, “that was last week!” At the end of the show, Carla is desperately asking God’s forgiveness.

It is a ridiculous example, but it helps us to consider the sin of presumption, especially in light of today’s Gospel. Presumption is when we take salvation for granted…we take Heaven for granted. It is good for each one of us to ask ourselves: “am I taking salvation for granted? Am I taking Heaven for granted?” Our hope is that no one at St Andrew’s does this; our being here shows that we don’t take it for granted. But, the reality is that some do, or else this Church would be filled at this Mass and every Mass.

The Jewish people were starting to do that, so Jesus tried to warn them in the Gospel. They might have been thinking, ‘hey, we’re God’s people. We’re the people of Israel. We’re God’s chosen ones’. Jesus paraphrases their arrogant attitude with “Lord, you ate and drank with us, and you taught in our streets. You know us”. He is saying to them, be careful, I might not know who you are when you try to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. With our Protestant brother and sisters, we often hear them say, “I am saved…On such and such date, I professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and I’m saved”. Jesus says, be careful. The correct attitude should be, ‘I hope I am saved’.

Even we Catholics use phrases that might be presumptuous or arrogant. One of the funnier lines I’ve heard has been, “well, I went to 12 years of Catholic education”. I would often hear this from people when I told them I was going into or in the seminary. They would say, “really, wow. Well, you know, I went to 12 years of Catholic school.” I would be thinking, ‘oookay’, and simply say, “hey, that’s great”. More commonly, we say, ‘hey I’m a good person’. Yes, I’m sure that’s true, but the question is: will you be saved?

On a more personal note, we ask the questions, ‘do I take Jesus for granted? Do I take my relationship with Him for granted?’ Do we just assume that he will always there for us, and that we don’t need to go to Him? Do we take God’s mercy for granted? Christ is God’s mercy and love personified, so if we take Him for granted, we take God’s love for granted. We know that we do know this with other people – family members, friends, loved ones. We realize at different times that we don’t tell people we love how much they mean to us or that we love them. Do we do the same with Jesus?

I learned a very harsh lesson about taking people for granted when my father died suddenly when I was 17. I never got to tell him how much he meant to me and that I loved him. I have learned since then that whenever I have the chance, I tell people how I feel about them and that I love them. I would encourage all of you to do the same; tell those you love how much they mean to you.

So, what can we do to avoid taking Jesus for granted? We can try to talk to and listen to Him in prayer. We can get to know Him better by reading Scripture; many people read one chapter of the Gospel before going to bed at night. We can serve those in need and get involved in parish activities. Jesus says that when we serve the poor, we serve Him.

The best way for us to appreciate Christ and not take Him for granted is in the Eucharist. In a few minutes, we will see Him under the signs of bread and wine. When I elevate the host which is His Body and elevate the cup which is His Blood, each of can quietly say, “Jesus, I love you. I thank you”. As we receive Jesus in Holy Communion today, may each of us know God’s love and thank him for his mercy. May each of us know God’s love in Jesus Christ.


At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I learned a very harsh lesson about taking people for granted when my father died suddenly when I was 17. I never got to tell him how much he meant to me and that I loved him. I have learned since then that whenever I have the chance, I tell people how I feel about them and that I love them. I would encourage all of you to do the same; tell those you love how much they mean to you."

This idea can also go into the idea of forgiving those who hurt us. Often, we take for granted those who we care about and put them on pedestals and think they can do no wrong, but when they sin and "fall" from the pedestals we put them on do we really forgive them or do we treat them worse then we should?

I am guilty of doing this in my own life, I put family and friends on such high pedestals that when they mess up I am devastated and react badly including practically "shunning" them from my life. I did it recently with a friend over something that it turns out wasn't their fault. How do I stop doing this to people?

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Martha said...

Anon 4:56pm:

You stop doing it to people through prayer. You ask God for the grace and strength you need for it. And you do it through Love. If you don't love your friends and family (and others) then it is easy to put them aside when they make mistakes or sin in some way. If you do love them, then that is something you can never do.

We are each called to love as Christ loves. Only the Evil One spreads hate, discontent and spurs us to put aside those who need our and God's love the most. When you find yourself putting people aside or shunning them for some reason, pray for them and yourself and then resist that temptation. We are called to be Christ for one another and to do that means showing mercy and forgiveness.

At 12:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes it becomes harder to express feelings after experiencing loss. It can be hard to get back on that horse. In addition, being vulnerable is a concept that easily overwhelms me. For those I care about to whom I have a harder time expressing my feelings in "those" kinds of words, I give attention, praise, encouragment and assistance. Those are the marks of my sentiments. I do believe the special people in my life get it that I care about them.

Funny thing- I went to a family event over the weekend where many hadn't seen me in a while. There was a lot of consumption and I received many slightly slurred "I love you, man's". Many do seem to require a certain amount of courage (even of the liquid variety) to express those kinds of feelings. Now that I reflect on it, it's not too cool that so many of us (myself included) feel we need "courage" to express that we love one another.

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You pray for grace, love and patience.

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and why do some seem to (sometimes with something close to disdain) make a distinction between what is charismatic and what is traditional? I don’t think I understand the implications of the word charismatic, and I’ve heard JPII referred to as a charismatic pope. I definitely misunderstood what that meant.

At 12:21 PM, Blogger fran said...

"I put family and friends on such high pedestals.....How do I stop doing this to people?"

I think it is important to see ourselves in others, as well as others in ourselves. If we do this we can see that we are all capable of falling from the pedestals that others may have us on, just as others fall from the pedestals upon which we may have them.
"Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own." Luke 6:41

While there is nothing wrong with admiring some characteristic(s) in another person, I think it also important to acknowledge that we all make mistakes, do things we wish we hadn't, and say things we wish we could retract. We are all sinners.
".......Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7

If we are to truly love our neighbor, (friends and family members,) as our ourself, then we will be there to listen and forgive them - to catch them, when they do fall.

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been someone that has been put on a pedestal by another. Hear me when I say, the view is not so great. From the perspective of this other person, I have felt as if I'm not entitled to be flawed. When I make mistakes or "fail" at something, I face the disappointment of this other person, not so much in what I do or fail to do, but in who I am not- the person who is supposed to meet all their needs and desires. Being on that pedestal is immobilizing, and I have just learned that it's okay to jump off and let the disappointment fall where it may. If you really admire someone, do them a favor, and see them as they are- NOT who you think they should be.


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