To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!
To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!
In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we prayed, “a clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew in me.”
On commentator of today’s Psalm 51 has said that this line, should come with a warning label: “The side effects of praying like this are unpredictable and often uncomfortable. If it works, you will never be the same.”
Note what we are praying for today! Usually we might pray for a favor from God that will change our circumstances or those of others. (Give health to the sick; Let it be a blizzard tomorrow, I didn’t do my book report for English Class, please God no school for at least a week!)
In Psalm 51, we begin by admitting that what we want changed is OURSELVES! “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew in me.”
In Psalm 51, we begin by admitting that what we want changed is our way of being, of acting, of seeing things.
Psalm 51 has us admitting that our hearts are less then what we want them to be.
Psalm 51 asks God to change, to transform our very desires so that our HEARTS may become larger and filled with Integrity.
In Paul’s letter today, Paul admits to his horrendous errors of the past. Paul the Persecutor of Christians now rejoices in God’s mercy. There is no doubt that Paul, a sinner, appreciates but knows first hand about the mercy of God, and wants the message to be shared with all and by all.
In the story of the one lost sheep, we hear Jesus ask the group, “What one among you would not leave the 99 and go after one stray?”
And the sane answer to his question is, “none of us would do that! Why risk 99 for the sake of one?”
One of today’s reminders to us is God’s first concern is always for the lost!
That includes US, whether we have brought it upon ourselves by straying or through the self-righteousness of thinking we are better than others or we have to earn God’s love, mercy…
To pray today and any day for a change of heart is to risk a conversion like that of St. Paul or the self-righteous zealot or even the Prodigal Son (about whom we did not hear today, since we used the shorter gospel reading)
Their hearts changed when they realized that God delights in them!
God delights in them not because they never strayed, but because they got on the road toward home – toward God…
May one of our daily prayers always be for ourselves, “a clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew in me.”
To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!
The letter from St. James today sets a scene many of us have probably experienced, passing by someone without adequate food or clothing. Just maybe we may have passed by someone with a sign asking for money or work at an intersection and simply passed by without making any eye contact. Maybe we were in a rush… Maybe we felt uncomfortable… or we were unsure how to help.
But St. James, reminds us, “our faith need to be put into action, every day in any number of ways.”
Throughout our lives in ways we know and do not know, we “plant seeds of faith, hope and love.” A faith that is rooted in daily actions of faith, hope and love.
It goes without saying that we need to continue to grow in awareness so that we can plant seeds of faith, hope and love.
Kindness… Living our faith is not something we do for a reward… if we do, we just might be selfish. But in the end, every form of kindness, of faith lived and shared in caring and love will produce good fruit and will celebrate God’s love for others.
Here’s a story that might illustrate my point:
A young boy, out in the country to study wildlife, became very hungry and decided he would stop at the next farmhouse. A lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of asking for a meal, the boy asked for a glass of water.
However the woman, thought he looked hungry, so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”
“You don’t own me anything,” she replied. “Mother taught us never to accept pay for kindness.”
The young man then said, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Years later, this young woman became ill. The local doctors sent her to the big city, where Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for a consult.
He heard the name of the town where the woman came from, his eyes lit up. Immediately, he went to the woman’s hospital room and on entering recognized the woman at once. He then went back to work, determined to do his best to cure the woman’s illness. From that day forward, Dr. Kelly gave special attention to the woman and saw her through her recovery.
Dr. Kelly, one of the four founding doctors of Johns Hopkins Hospital, requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on it. When the woman received the bill, she feared opening it because she was sure it might take the rest of her life to pay for it. Finally, she looked, and noticed something was written on the edge of the note, “Paid in full with a glass of milk”.
Tears filled her eyes as she made the connection and remembered the hungry boy she helped years before.
Oh, by the way, Dr. Kelly has a habit of taking care of the bills of 3 out of 4 of his patients. Surely his kindness made many of his patients feel much better.
As St. Paul reminds us today, “Our faith needs to be put into action…”
May we continue to do so – any time and every day…
Here’s a question to ask ourselves: In this past week how much time did you spend on your computer or your smart phone? Now ask yourself how much time did you spend in prayer, in reading or learning something about your Faith… our Faith?
This weekend is Catechetical Sunday. Today at our 10:30 am Sunday Mass we will commission our Catechists (teachers for our Faith Formation Program) for their Ministry. But Catechetical Sunday is all about each of us and our role, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel.
In this week’s Diocesan newspaper “The Evangelist,” on page 5, Bishop Scharfenberger reminded us, the people of the Diocese of Albany of several important items… (CLICK HERE for a link that will offer you the full text of the Bishop)
+ Education is a lifelong process of growth, of knowledge, spirituality, and character in a community contact that is provided by our teachers and catechists in our schools and in our Faith Formation programs…
+ The Bishop reminds us that “in no case will our Faith Formation programs for our children be effective without the cooperation and support of parents, who are the primary educators of their children.” The Bishop, also adds, that this means both parents.
+ The Bishop also notes that faith is more than just knowledge of traditions and formal practice. Parents need to aware of what their children are learning. The interest of parents in their child’s faith formation process may even be an opportunity to deepen their faith, their knowledge of the faith, and their living of the faith.
+ Religion, faith formation is not another school subject. Religion… faith… is a way of living, by taking the time to pray at home and at church. And Sunday Mass, maybe attending as a family, communicates to our children, that the essence of our faith is about Jesus and life is more than work or sports, shopping or entertainment, important as these activities are.
No matter our age, we can all learn. We can recall again what we may have learned before about our faith…
This past week, I shared with the Parish Staff a one page sheet entitled: “Assessment of Catholic Basics for All Ages” (Click the title for a copy of this sheet). Copies of which are in the Gathering Area of Church.
As you will look at this “Assessment Sheet” we might wonder what one or two the answers should be. Well thank God for the internet and Google! The answer is but a few clicks away. But living the answers will take a life time…
Someone one might be thinking, you have not said a word about today’s Scriptures: nothing about St. Paul and his reminder to make the Lord the center of our lives; nothing about empathy and our caring for those in need; nothing about God’s unconditional love and total forgiveness for each of us and our need to do the same.
Just maybe there is no need to repeat: Sirach, Paul and Jesus, but better yet a reminder today to get to know our Faith a bit more and live the Faith a bit more at home, work, school, community and Parish, which should bring us to living the Word of God more faithfully today and for each day to come as person, family and Parish.
You have to love the statement by Paul today in his letter to Timothy, “This statement is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
By the way folks… the sinners – that is all of us! At our Baptism we shared in the great love of God for us. A Love that is, it seems, beyond our full comprehension.
At our Baptism we shared in the life, death & resurrection of Jesus.
At our Baptism we share in the gift of eternal life.
But it needs to be said, that we can at times either take advantage of God’s love for us, or we can at times excuse ourselves for our “lack of faithfulness” to our God, all the while expecting a high level of response from another or others.
One might ask, what is God expecting from us as a person, family and Parish. What is God expecting from me? In what ways is God waiting for me to “change in my life?”
Some times when our “sin is great” as we see in the people of Israel who worshiped a molten calf, or as we see in St. Paul, a person who persecuted Christians; we think we cannot be forgiven.
As one Scripture Scholar reminds us, the stories of today’s scripture readings are meant to assure all of us, sinners that we are, that God is “crazy in love over each individual human being and rejoices exuberantly over finding one that has been lost.”
Simply put: God’s grace and mercy are far greater than any sin, even the greatest sin!
It may be hard for us at times to really believe that GOD loves us, that God will forgive us, that God and all in Heaven want to celebrate our coming home to God, our Father.
But he does…
And, by the way, there are times in our lives when you and I must be the visible face of a loving and merciful God to others. As Disciples of Jesus, we too bring the mercy and love of God to life.
Just maybe, the message our God would ask us to hear today is two-fold:
1) Continue to grow in a deepening appreciation of my (God’s) eternal love and mercy for you and others…
2) Strive daily to mirror “my love and mercy” (asks God) through your conversations and your actions, with everyone you encounter and interact with daily.