Deacon Ken’s Homily

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

        We’ve all heard it from our older relatives.  “In my day we had to walk uphill to school, in the snow, with no shoes on our feet.” My dad was raised on a mountainside in Bluefield, West Virginia.  He told me that story. He had to walk down a mountain, across the street, go four or five blocks down the road, and then climb another mountain to get to his school, sometimes in the snow. His walk to school and back home again was no joke. 

      Susie and I had a Scuba diving instructor named Lenny, who used to tell us that to get back and forth to school and home, he had to snorkel upstream both ways with no fins on his feet.  In our lives, on our way to salvation, we too will have to climb our mountains and swim upstream to get to our destination which is Heaven. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is travelling his uphill to Calvary, to a place he really doesn’t want to go. He asks God: “If at all possible, let this cup pass by me.” Jesus is going to a place where he will taste death, and where he will have to swim against the stream of deceit, lies, jealousy and envy.  Jesus knows that at the end of his journey, there will be victory! 

     You and I are called to be servants. Just as in his priestly life Jesus was to be a servant for all, and through his suffering He would redeem the world: Jesus provided the example of the values of Christian living. You and I share in that Priesthood. We are called by God to live a life well lived: A meaningful life of faith, hope and charity. The path is narrow. As we walk, we are either walking towards Jesus, or away from him. There is no middle ground. As they walked, Jesus tries to make the disciples understand, what the will of God is for him. The disciples haven’t a clue what Jesus is trying to tell them. They’re too busy figuring who is the greatest after Jesus. They think he will be a King of a mighty army and that Jesus will deliver them from their adversaries, but they are wrong. Soon they will discover that Jesus is not a King in this world, nor does he have a mighty army.  Soon they will discover the true cost of discipleship.  Soon they will discover that the cross is Jesus’ total commitment to the will of the Father and discipleship comes with great cost. To be a disciple one has to die to them self and live for others. It is hard to understand for sure, but it is an absolute necessity to make it to heaven. 

     Like the disciples, we are journeying to Jerusalem, where victory will prevail. And as we are journeying and serving others along the way, the rewards will come. The streams and mountains will slowly fade from sight. We will get a glimpse of heaven, to sustain us on our way. Peace will rule the day. Peace, where the works of Justice and the effects of Charity bring tranquility to order. Peace or Disorder, Tranquility or chaos, walking to, or away from Jesus First or last, which will it be?

      Today, may we choose peace in this life that we may have endless joy in the life to come.

Reading I

Wis 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:

      Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.  Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him.  For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.  With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.  Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

Reading II

Jas 3:16—4:3

Beloved:

      Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?  Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?  You covet but do not possess.  You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.  You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

 

 

 

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Homily)

I read these readings several times one evening hoping for some “enlightenment” from God. I’ve got to tell you nothing was coming! Crickets is the word I hear floating around these days. I thought “Maybe I’ll just rest a while like Jesus and His Apostles did after their long week of preaching and healing.” I turned on the television to a Western Movie. The name of the movie was “Silverado”. It’s the story of four good guys, who mix it up with an evil sheriff and his evil deputies. Of course, the sheriff is protecting the evil rancher who illegally acquired one of the good guys’ family’s farm. The rancher’s men have kidnapped the nephew of two of the good guys, and the nephew is being held at the ranch. The big finale of the movie is that the good guys join forces to rescue the boy and then rid the town of the evil rancher, evil sheriff and evil deputies. It is a classic good guy versus bad guy, good versus evil movie.

     The next day, I’m back to the readings and I discover there’s a bit of Silverado going on here. Picture this: God and Jeremiah are teaming up to confront the elders of the church, who are not acting responsibly? towards those God has given them. For sure, the elders know what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to act, but many want to be seen and treated as dignitaries. They walk around with “Holier than Thou attitudes.” They impose strict rules on those they are supposed to lead, but they don’t follow those same rules themselves. If you listen closely, you can almost hear Jeremiah, in a west Texas drawl say: “Boys, you’ve scattered the sheep, I’m going to have to run you out of town.”

     Then, along comes Jesus and his apostles in the Gospel. They are the good guys who travel from town to town, village to village doing good works and preaching the gospel? They’re running sin and evil out of town. Jesus rebukes an evil spirit on a naked man in a cemetery and the evil spirit leaves the man. A woman touches the hem of His garment and is healed from years of hemorrhages. A little girl is not dead, but asleep after Jesus tells her “Little girl, I say arise!” Jesus is “the” good shepherd, the righteous shoot of David, and He and his apostles will do what is right and just, and because of them many will be saved. Today, you and I are living our own Silverado. We are called to rid our towns and villages of sin and evil. We do this by our actions when we: show love to the unloved. feed the hungry. fight injustice and prejudices. share the love of Jesus with others. All the while we have to guard ourselves that we are never anything more than a humble servant of God.

      From time to time, we need to rest and look inward to see where we are in the grand scheme of things. Picture a sliding scale with the icon of a weed on one end and seeds on the other. Somewhere between the weeds and the seeds we find ourselves. Though we start out as weeds, we should always strive too constantly plant seeds that lead to the Good Shepherd. We trust God, and have faith that even in our weaknesses God will seek us out whether we are near or far from him. In his great love and mercy, God has sent us a good shepherd who will provide for us now and forever if we but turn to him. Good versus evil. It’s all around us. We see it every day. If we but pay attention to the shepherd, He will teach us many things and He will bring us together one people, gathered in love. And then, at the end of our days The Good Shepherd will ride His white horse into town and say to us: “Well done my good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your master.”

Deacon Ken Stewart

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