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A listing of recent homilies delivered at my parish.
Una lista de homilías recientes entregadas en mi parroquia.
Una lista de homilías recientes entregadas en mi parroquia.
- 09-05-2021 - 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time in Guadalupe Church, Omaha
Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.
God has come to save us! A wonderful thing. But the church gives us this reading from Isaiah because of the verses that follow it about eyes and ears and legs. Then we turn to the gospel. But we need to add from a previous story in the gospel about what the Decapolis is.
This is the area where the Gerasene demoniac was cured by sending the demons into the pigs. Now do you remember the story? The man wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to return home. When he did, he shared with the people in his town all that Jesus did for him.
So the next time Jesus came to town, we have the story of the gospel today. Remember, the people were afraid of the man that Jesus removed the demons from. But after he had been released from the demons, and was restored to his family, he was able to tell them of the wonders of this miracle worker named Jesus.
So when Jesus came into town again, everybody was excited and they wanted to bring their sick to him in hopes that he would bring the healing that he had already shown he could do.
There are a couple of points I want to make with this. First of all, Isaiah says “be strong, fear not!” How trusting are we of God and his ability to protect us, to heal us, to give us what we need?
The second point is very similar. Jesus knows what we need because he has lived and seen the situations of our lives. He knows all of the problems that surround our human lives. He knows what temptation is. He knows what sicknesses. And most importantly he knows what health is, both spiritual and physical.
The third point is the one I want to spend a little more time with. It has to do with the witness of the man who had the demons in him. Jesus deliberately sent him out on a mission. He sent him on the mission because this man knew what had happened to him. It was because of this mission that the people would come to Jesus at this later time of the gospel.
This is what we need to do. How has Jesus touched your life? What are the stories of your life with Jesus? Are you ready to tell somebody what he has done – for you? Archbishop Lucas in the last couple of years has talked about the need to make parishes into missional parishes. I believe this is what that means! Every one of us should have our stories of faith ready to tell people why we believe what we believe.
Last weekend I asked three questions and asked the people who heard my homily to take those questions as homework. I repeat them today.
What is it that holds you to the church right now? Why do you want to come to worship God? What is it about coming to mass that keeps you attracted?
In addition I would add one more question: How has God healed you? These are not idle questions or something that can be put aside because of our discomfort in talking about our faith. We MUST –I am being serious – we must have ready our answers to these questions.
What was it that the man cured of the demons said to convince the people in his town to bring the sick to Jesus? And it was not just in his town. The Decapolis means ten cities. This man evangelized the world around him. He took seriously the call to be a missionary for Christ. He knew his story. Do you know yours?
My friends, this is not some optional part of what it means to follow Christ. We are in a serious crisis in our society, in our church. So many people are deciding that coming to church means nothing! I think the reason why they feel that way is because they have seen nothing coming from within the church that they find of value.
Coming to church means nothing because they have seen nothing coming from the church that they want in their own lives. And that is our fault.
Let me briefly tell you my story of why I came to believe in Jesus. It was almost 20 years before I became a priest. I had nothing to do on a Saturday night but sit in the barracks when I was in the Army. I received an invitation to a Bible study. It was better than doing nothing. But during the study, I was sitting next to a big bay window and it felt like there was a circle going around the entire room, but when it came to me, I was on the outside of the circle.
I stayed away for a couple of weeks, but there was something that was attracting me. It was the level of friendship that these high school and young college kids had. I was in their age group, and I could see that what they had was valuable. So when I returned after these couple of weeks I went to one of the young men who seemed to know what was going on and I said – I remember it clearly – “I do not know what is going on here, but I want in.”
I did not understand at the moment that I was saying I want Jesus in my life, because that is what these young people had. But it was that experience that led me to renew my faith, to become committed to the Catholic Church. This commitment did not lead me at first to the priesthood. But, here I am!
I am not saying that your experience of Jesus is going to lead you in the same path that I was led to. But you need to know what your path has been so that you can lead others to that same path toward Christ. If you cannot put it into words… then you are not doing all you are supposed to be doing for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Yes I mean to be that strong in the way I put that. Let me go back again to those questions, all four of them now.
What is it that holds you to the church right now? Why do you want to come to worship God? What is it about coming to mass that keeps you attracted? How has God healed you?
Knowing your answers to these questions will help you speak to those who do not understand even the questions.