25 June 201712 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
12 Ordinary Time
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Henry Luce said to his wife, Clare Booth Luce, "Jesus is nothing but an ordinary Jew." She replied, "Of course, Henry, but only on His mother's side."
His story is the classic of classics. (Dorothy Sayers)
His message, when presented as intended, remains today as offensive as it did in the 1st century.
He could squeeze infinity into a single sentence.
He asked the impossible, did the incredible, and loved the unlovable.
He spent thirty years preparing for the most effective three years of public life ever lived. (Christendom College)
He spoke to relatively small crowds throughout His life. Yet, He has changed the world more than any one person.
One and a half billion people today follow Him.
A Gallup poll revealed 84% of Americans believe He is Son of God.
His preaching is aimed for the heart, not head. (William Barclay)
Through the centuries, we have given Him countless titles. He never asked for one.
The Scriptures alone give Him 256 different names. (Donald Senior)
The most common title applied to Him is Teacher. He is called that thirty times in the Gospels.
More was written about Him in the last twenty years of the 20th century than in the previous nineteen centuries. (David Tracy)
If He had not lived, we would not be able to invent Him. (Walter Wink)

No one who genuinely meets Him ever stays the same.
In the last century, there were hundreds of books written about Him by Jewish scholars. Some are the most illuminating studies available. (Philip Yancey)

Israeli schoolchildren learn that He was a great teacher, perhaps the greatest.

Napoleon wrote He is a being by Himself. The emperor searched history to find someone similar to Him but could not.

He lived out an ideal for masculine fulfillment that still eludes most men. Three times He cried publicly. He did not hide His fears or hesitate to ask for help. He never tried to hide His loneliness or His dependence on other people. How many men would make themselves so vulnerable? (Yancey)

He involved Himself in the problems of any person who crossed His path.
Not once did He turn down a direct request for help.
He truly was a man for others. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
He is pictured in many images from king of kings, lord of lords, gentle rabbi, compassionate friend, man of sorrows, philosopher, teacher, saviour. (Yancey)

He is a man with a thousand faces.
He is pictured in different images in every culture and civilization.
He was a fun person to be around because the Gospels reveal people constantly invited Him to eat with them.
His words were short, precise, terrible, and full of refreshment. (John Berryman)
Unlike Confucius who searched for truth, He said, "I am the truth."
He never met a disease He couldn't cure, a birth defect He couldn't reverse, or demon He couldn't exorcise. Yet, He was a most reluctant miracle worker. The Gospels record but thirty- five miracles.
Though He could walk on the waters, He did so but once.
We treat much of His message as allegory and metaphor, but He would disagree with us. The only words we take literally are "Hoc est enim corpus meum." (Aldo Tos)

Judas was not the last person to betray Him, merely the most famous.

He left no home or belongings that could be enshrined in a museum. We would know nothing about Him except for the traces He left in us. That was His design

Ever since the Ascension, He has sought other bodies in which to resume the life He lived on earth.

(Yancey) As we are, He was. As He is, we must become. He came to make bad people good and good people kind. (Frank O'Connor) Since we cannot give to Him directly, He has delegated the poor to be the receivers of our generosity. They are His ambassadors. (Jonathan Edwards) We meditate on Him. Then we go out into alleys and look for Him in disguise. (Mother Teresa) It is extraordinary that our belief rests on a Man whose message was rejected, whose love was spurned, who was condemned as a criminal and executed. He came not to solve the problem of pain but teach us how to endure it. (Joseph Bernadin) He is God's yes to all God's promises. (Paul Dinter) He is better served by poets than by preachers.

He died to save us. He lives to keep us. There has never been a better storyteller than He. (Harvey Cox) If the life and death of Socrates are those of a philosopher, His life and death are those of a God. (Jean Rousseau) It's remarkable that He who lived out his life 2000 years ago should have such a remarkable effect on our lives. Jesus is the best kept secret of Christianity. (When possible, the author is identified.)

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
12 Ordinary Time
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Courage to Be a Witness

This week I would like to speak with you about the call we have received to be witnesses to Christ. It takes tremendous courage to give witness to Christ. Perhaps we don't have to be afraid of being put to death for Christ as so many of the martyrs were, or as so many Christians still are in territories ruled by radical Islam, radical Hindi, etc. But we certainly risk being seriously hurt by the most influential people we might know.

Standing for the Lord, being His Witness, will trigger the worst in those who cannot fathom why we should be serious in allowing God to determine our lives. Sure, they will go to Church and give lip service to their faith, but when it comes to living that faith, they simply don't. And they cannot stand a person who refuses to join their immoral lifestyle. The person who does not sleep around, get drunk or stoned, who is faithful to marriage, who does an honest day's work, etc etc is an abomination to those who engage in some if not all of these. So, what do they do? They denounce the person. They talk about him or her. "You know, she says she's virtuous, but she isn't,” "He didn't come to the party because he'd rather do drugs than alcohol,” " She makes believe that she is honest, but she is the biggest liar around,” and a person's reputation is instantly destroyed.

They think they have us, these so-called friends. They think they know us, but they don't. They know that it is natural to be concerned with what others are saying about us. But they don't know that is not our main concern. Our main concern is being witnesses for Jesus Christ. And so, like Jeremiah in today's first reading, we trust in the Lord to protect us. Jesus said in today's Gospel, "Fear no one.” Instead, proclaim from the housetops what you have heard. Don't be concerned with those who can destroy your body, but not your soul. Be concerned with losing your soul, your very self, for the sake of protecting your standing with these forces of darkness.

Do not be concerned if people call you names because you have the courage to live your faith. Don't be concerned if people make stories up about you because what they really want to do is deflect attention away from their own shortcomings. Instead, recognize this, when we stand with God we stand with the Victor. Jesus Christ will win the battle. After all, our battle as witnesses is His battle.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

God is aware of the times we say, "No, that's wrong.” or simply, "No, that's not my style.” God is aware of the times that we stay away from certain people or certain places. He is also aware of how we are treated by some when we give witness to His Presence.

We are worth more than many sparrows. Our Heavenly Father cares for us. His Son loves us. His Spirit fills us. Sure, it is a normal reaction to be concerned with what others are saying about us. Sure, we are all afraid of being the butt of other people's jokes. We hate being mocked. But we have to recognize that good is always going to be opposed by evil. We cannot be afraid. When we stand up for that which is right and true, the Lord will win the battles for us. Maybe we might not get that promotion we want. Maybe we might not be part of the in-crowd. But it is infinitely better to be part of the in-heaven crowd than the in-crowd on earth.

Not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father's knowledge. God is aware of our commitment to His Life. He is aware that we are His Witnesses. All we need to do is to proclaim the truth of the Lord and let God do the rest.
Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
12 Ordinary Time
Spiritual Warfare Week 1: Why This Theme?
(June 25, 2017)

Message: Like it or not, we are in a high stakes war and the enemy does not take summer vacation.
Last week we finished a ten week series titled Life In Christ. This Sunday we transition to a new theme: Spiritual Warfare. The two themes Life in Christ and Spiritual Warfare might seem to clash. Life in Christ, as we learned, involves a walk with Jesus, listening to him in the Scriptures and receiving him in the Eucharist. That sound pretty peaceful, so why talk about war? Besides, right now many people are thinking about getting away and relaxing a little. Why have a summer series on spiritual warfare?

There are a couple of reasons: First, a soldier's life does not rule out time for R & R - Rest and Relaxation. A good general allows it, even encourages some R & R. This summer we will hear Jesus say "my yoke is easy and my burden light" and he will take three disciples on a hike up a small mountain. So spiritual warfare doesn't mean constant battle; it includes times for rest and retooling.

There's a second reason for talking about spiritual warfare. None of us can predict when the enemy will attack. We may plan a peaceful time, but then all of a sudden like Jeremiah we can find ourselves under assault - not by people far away, but within one's family and associates. The enemy can mount an attack any time - winter, spring, summer or fall.

A few months ago we had a retreat for parish disciples involved in Unity, Youth and Spirituality ministries. We began with Mass then had 4 hours of silent prayer. I gave them this question: What is God's plan for St. Mary of the Valley? As we look toward the 2017-2018 faith formation year, what does God want us to do?

From this discernment a major concern emerged: strengthen marriages and families to meet the challenge of spiritual warfare. We recognize that the values of the world and the attacks of evil one affect our children. Many experience alienation from God and from the Catholic faith - and cease practicing their faith when they leave home for college or work. During the 2017-2018 parish year we will work so that the ministries at St. Mary of the Valley – in an explicit and deliberate way - assist parents and families in this spiritual combat. In today's Gospel Jesus calls us to vigilance: "Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul." Don't be afraid to acknowledge Jesus. If you acknowledge him, he will acknowledge you. If you deny him before others, he will deny you. We are involved in a high stakes combat.

We will hear more about this next weekend when Jesus tells us that we have to love him even more than mother and father, son or daughter. These are tough words. We will consider them in context of the Fourth of July - what it means to be Americans who follow Jesus. I will even have a quote from our president. Do not be afraid. :) That's for next Sunday.

The message for today is this: Make the best of your summer, but be vigilant and use this time to learn more about spiritual combat. Like it or not, we are in a high stakes war and the enemy does not take summer vacation. We can make our own what Jeremiah says to God "To you I have entrusted my cause...Praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked." Amen
Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
12 Ordinary Time
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic
Matthew 10: 26-33

Gospel Summary
In today's gospel passage, Jesus reminds his disciples that they will meet opposition if they try to live his message but that they should not be fearful because all that is hidden will be made known. Most of us would be concerned about having everything in our past revealed, but the attitude of Jesus is not that of an investigative reporter. He is referring to the truth, which he has brought into our world and has entrusted to all his disciples. This teaching possesses a hidden power, so that all the violence and bluster that oppose it, though sometimes appearing overwhelming, will in fact crumble before it. Even death will not be able to withstand the power of Jesus' word of truth.

How can this be? Because God is on the side of truth and God is not only all-powerful but also fiercely attentive. He is never distracted, so that he takes note of every sparrow, and even every hair of our heads. God watches closely to see that his truth triumphs and that those who proclaim it and live by it share in that victory.

Accordingly, at the final judgment Jesus will himself present to his Father whose who have been faithful to his teaching, just as he will disown those who have allowed themselves to be deluded by the bright lights and sweet sounds of a philosophy that seeks dominance and justifies ego-centricity..

Life Implications
Jesus teaches us that our only source of freedom and strength is the goodness of our heavenly Father--a goodness that is mediated through Jesus himself as well as through good people and beautiful flowers. Furthermore, the discovery of this goodness carries with it the solemn obligation to pass on one's blessings through concern for others.

Our world is full of hype and glitter, but the only truth that will prevail is the truth taught by Jesus. The elements of this teaching are not mysterious or obscure. First, one must be honest enough to acknowledge one's need for help in seeking liberation and fulfillment. This same honesty will enable one to see the goodness in life, both that which is visible to everyone and that which is subtle but very real. We must look for the goodness in life and learn to count our blessings

As one sees more and more goodness, and gathers it in, while letting the evil go by, one will become ever more confident and able to love in a way that responds to the needs of others. Such thoughtfulness will often appear unpromising and illogical, but it is in fact quite invincible so that absolutely nothing can withstand it. It is the hidden power of this truth that will be revealed and fully vindicated in the final judgment.

Low self-esteem is a very common form of bondage; it destroys our confidence in the beautiful gifts that God has given us. And that means that others are deprived also. How consoling it is to hear Jesus say, "You are worth more than many sparrows." This surely means that God is present to every one of us with his offer of love and support. The more we open ourselves to that bountiful gift, the more we will be able to become a blessing in the lives of others.
Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.

Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time,
Modern Gospel: Matthew 10: 26-33

This past Wednesday, June 21st, was the official beginning of Summer and sometimes called the longest day of the year. The day had twenty-four hours like every other day, but what makes it long is that it was the day on which those of us in the Northern hemisphere experienced the longest period of daylight. As the days and weeks led up to the solstice it was noticeable how early the sun rose each morning and how late we had sunlight into the evening. On the other side of the solstice the amount of sunlight will slowly decrease. These are times when we enjoy a lot of daylight for our work or leisure. Most people prefer the light to darkness, the long days of Summer to the short days of Winter.

In the Gospel for this weekend Jesus uses the image of darkness and light to make his point that in the presence of God everything will come to light. Those who live in darkness and work to destroy the message of Christ will be, in the end, disappointed. The person who walks in the light of Christ, even if the evil hidden in darkness attacks and destroys the body, the soul will live on. For the person who is of the light has a soul sanctified and fortified by Christ himself. In the book of Revelation the heavenly Jerusalem is described as a "city that has no need of the sun or moon, for the glory of God gave it light." Rev. 21,23 How is it possible for one to have such a personal presence of God and His protection in our lives? It is possible and it is a reality because of God’s personal love for us. In Psalm 139 we have the beautiful verse that tells us, "You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb." God is with at our creation, for God is our creator. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We are more precious to him than all his other creations to the point in which the hairs on our head are counted.

God is involved in our lives from the very beginning and continuously pours out his love into our lives. His presence is a light that outshines any darkness, and when it reveals the darkness of sin, Jesus responds with mercy and forgiveness. Ultimately it is a love and relationship that calls us to him in eternal life. However, as great as God’s love is it does not force us to receive his love or to love him in return. A constant in our relationship with God is the free will given to us so that we make the decision to accept God or not to accept him. In accepting God into our lives we open ourselves to receive all that comes with His presence; the light that overcomes any darkness in our lives, the peace that surpasses anxiety and fear, and ultimately his Sacramental Presence that nourishes us on our journey to eternal life.

The Lord cares for us in ways that are difficulty for us to comprehend. How can he have every hair on our head counted? Which I see as a way of saying he knows every cell of our bodies, he knows every thought that enters our minds, and he knows all the emotions that flow through our hearts. God’s knowledge of us is not merely information that God can use against us, it is the intimate understanding of our bodies, minds and hearts that he can respond to in ways that invite us to open our hearts more to him. May we give God permission to draw closer to us and help us live peacefully in his light.

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
12 Ordinary Time
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily by Father Alex McAllister SDS
Please note that Father Alex's homilies are now to be found on www.alexmcallister.co.uk

Today in our Gospel we are presented with a series of sayings by Jesus which it is generally regarded come from quite different sources and indeed from very different situations. Matthew has put them together and presents them as a series of instructions given by Jesus to the Twelve Apostles about how to carry out their mission. This raises the question of Matthew's authenticity as a Gospel writer.

I suppose the ordinary person who doesn't give the matter much thought probably imagines that Matthew witnessed everything that is recorded in his Gospel account of Jesus' life. They might fondly think of Matthew as following Jesus around with a notebook, making little jottings whenever he had a spare moment.

As soon as you begin to think about this you realise that such a thing could not be remotely true. First of all, we must realise the great problem it was in the ancient world to write anything at all, especially when one was on the move.

Paper or its equivalent was very expensive and fragile and the taking of notes was therefore an extremely laborious process. Writing was, in fact, the work of professional scribes and not something generally undertaken by ordinary folk.

However, the other thing that we are mostly unaware of was the extraordinary memories people had. Today, the ease of writing means that we don't have to remember very much at all and this has in turn meant that our facility for remembering things is very poorly developed.

If you are anything like me you find yourself making lists of things to do; and even then when looking at it later some of the things on the list don't make any sense at all! However, even a few generations ago our forebears had extremely good memories and could recite unaided great screeds of poetry, stories and prayers off by heart. Many years ago, I met an old lady who knew by heart most of the New Testament. She was a Methodist and had been brought up in a family who read the Bible together every evening, so that probably explains it. But what a contrast with the modern family, each watching their own TV programmes in quite separate rooms and never reading the Bible at all!

In the early years of the Church there were plenty of people who had been present at one or other of Jesus discourses and who could remember more or less just what he said. They surely told stories about him to each other, taking great delight in remembering all the details and recounting from memory all the things he had taught them.

Yes, there would have been significant variations between one account and another but gradually an accepted version of the particular teaching or incident in the life of Jesus would have emerged. Those who knew the story would tell others and this became a real feature of Christian life especially in the liturgy. And, of course, this is so right down to the present day.

What we are doing in the first part of the mass when we read from the scriptures is precisely this; telling the story. Telling the story of Jesus' life with special emphasis on his teachings and miracles and how he brought about our salvation. We rely on the accounts given us by the Evangelists and we place great trust in their reliability even if we are quite well aware of the different emphases that they each give.

So, whatever their original context this particular collection of sayings has been gathered together by St Matthew and presented to us as part of Jesus' missionary discourse to his Apostles. There are two particular themes in the text set before us today: the first is that the Apostles should not be afraid and the second is that they are truly Christ's representatives.

By saying, ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul', Christ is preparing them for a difficult ministry. As we know almost all the Apostles died a martyr's death. But they do not fear persecution because their faith is in the one who is more powerful than anyone on earth. They are not afraid because they know that they are treasured by God himself and it is he who guides and protects them on their mission.

And they are truly Christ's representatives. As Apostles, their primary task is to declare themselves for Christ in the presence of men; in fact there is no other way of being an Apostle. A secret Apostle is no Apostle at all!

An Apostle must declare who it is he represents. He must do so in words and also by his actions. He must proclaim the Gospel of Christ from the rooftops; that is his principal task. An Apostle is to continue and extend the ministry of Christ in the world. An Apostle is to do the work of Jesus and to bring as many people as he can to knowledge and love of him.

And Jesus promises that his disciples will be vindicated. They will be vindicated in the place that matters most; and that is before his Father in heaven. The judgement of this world is temporary and superficial; the real judgement occurs on the last day and it is in that court that Christ promises that he will speak up for his disciples. The Court of Heaven is the only court that really counts; and it is in that court where the real judgement will be given.

I remember on several occasions talking to people who were either facing death or the death of a loved one who asked me the simple but devastating question: ‘Is it all true?' All I could respond in such a situation is to say, ‘What else have we to rely on except the promises of God.'

And this is one of those promises: You stand up for me before men and I will stand up for you before my Father in heaven.

But the opposite is also true; should we neglect stand up for Christ in this world, then how can we possibly expect him to stand up for us on the day of judgement?

So, in conclusion let me make a suggestion, a small challenge for the coming week. Sometime during the week speak up for Christ or for the Gospel to someone who speaks against them. Ordinarily you might let a particular sort of comment or assumption pass; but this week stand up for Christ and make your views known.

Do not let your faith lie hidden. And do not be afraid of the consequences of speaking out. ‘What Christ has told us in the darkness, now tell in the daylight! What you have heard in whispers, proclaim from the housetops!'

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