5 July 202014 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
14 Ordinary Time

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Cycle- Matthew 11:25-30


       The abbot is impressed by the spiritual progress of the monk. He lets him live on his own in a riverbank hut. Each night the boy-monk puts out his religious habit to dry. It is his only possession. One morning he is dismayed to find it has been torn by rats. He begs for a second habit from the villagers. When the rats destroy that one, he gets a cat. But now he has to beg not only for food for himself but also milk  for the cat. To get around that he buys a cow. Then he has to seek for grain. He concludes, "It will be easier to work the land around my hut." That leaves him no leisure to pray. He hires workers. Checking on them is heavy work. He marries a wife to do the job. Soon he is the wealthiest person in the village.

       Years later the abbot comes back to find a mansion where the hut had stood. Sharply he asks, "What is the meaning of this?" The unhappy monk replies, "Abbot, you will not believe this, but there was no other way to protect my religious habit from the rats."

       Jesus has no tolerance with the people who put monkeys on our backs. He is more annoyed when we ourselves glue them there. Do we really need all the possessions in our homes? One man has seven bathrooms in his house, but there are only three people in his family. The same family has four cars but only two drivers. As clever as we might be, we can only drive one car at a time.                

       We should make our own the song "I Don't Want What I Don't Have." Do we need to smoke so much or eat so greedily or drink so often or, worst of all, all three together at the same time? Why do we heed people who impose on us the obligation of being with it - whatever "it" means? Some have calendar books overflowing with obligations.  Others work overtime as though there will be no tomorrow. Yet, no person ever regretted on his deathbed that he didn't spend more time at the office. (Anna Quindlen) Bob Hope said he first realized he had to take his family on the road with him when he said to his 5 year old, "Bye, Tony" and the child chirped, "Bye, Bob."

       St Paul in Romans (8:13) advises us to shake these burdens off our backs and become free. Obviously Paul wants us to have leisure time to become more interesting Christians. "The quickest way to do many things," says the proverb, "is to do one thing at a time." There is more to life than increasing its speed. (Gandhi) Shrinks call this problem "hurry sickness." Most of us have studied the Gospels and concluded they are difficult and so we turn to religion. We conclude that belonging to a religion is much easier than being religious and less demanding than serving Christ. If I give religion an hour on Sunday, we say, and put a ten in the basket, I can get Christ off my back. The danger is not that our aim is high and we miss it. It is too low and we reach it. (Unknown)

       Yet, is the Gospel that difficult? Matthew today has Christ on record saying, "Father, what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to kids." The mayor ran into Christ in the street. He asked, "Is there anyone here who will be saved?" Jesus looked about and said, "No one but that couple." The mayor asked the couple what they did. They replied, "We are merrymakers. When we see people depressed, we cheer them up. When we see them quarreling, we try to make peace among them." (William Barclay) So people who do simple things will reach the kingdom. Others will be locked out.

       If you carry your childhood with you, you never grow old. (Abraham Sutzkever) Many of us try to play the Christian but after a few setbacks give up the struggle and become our usual dull selves. Christ has considered that possibility. Tantalizingly He says today, "Come to me, all you who are burned-out and find life tough and I will give you R & R." This is a clear invitation to hang out and waste time with God. Remember, though, He promised us a safe landing, not smooth sailing. (Unknown)


       Help me, dear God, to stop believing I'm in charge and you are but my third assistant coach. (Unknown)


       "Slow me down, Jesus."

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
14 Ordinary Time

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: On Yokes and Burdens


            Today's Gospel tells us about the Heart of Jesus. It gives us these words of comfort: "Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." 


             What do these words tell us about the Lord?  What do they mean for us?


            They tell us something about the image of God that is very different from the images of God we might have.  Many of our images are of the Almighty Awesome Creator of the Universe.  We think of the great frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as Michelangelo portrayed God creating the universe with a dazzling display of power.  We think of the image of creation of Adam, and God's powerful hand touching the limp finger of the first man, giving him life.  Or we think of some of the wonders of nature we may have experienced: the summits of the Rocky Mountains, the great canyons of Arizona, or the fire red skies of a Tampa Bay Sunset.  And we remember that God is the Awesome Creator.


            But He is more than this. 


            We also have images of Jesus the Son of God as the Judge of the living and dead.  He is the One we will have to come before and present the work of our lives, not just the individual things we have done, but how well we have allowed His love to permeate the world.  There is reward or punishment waiting, there is mercy and compassion, and there is justice.  Again, going back to the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo depicts the scene of the Last Judgment showing the joy of the saved and the grief of the condemned.  Jesus is the Just and Merciful Judge.


            But He is more than this.


            Jesus is meek and humble of heart.  The prophet Zechariah prophesied that this is how our King would come to us. This was in today's first reading from Zechariah 9:9.  And this is how Jesus presents himself in the Gospel, meek and humble of heart. 


            What does it mean to be meek?  To be meek is to be patient and gentle.  This is not the surrender of rights or some form of cowardice, but the opposite of sudden anger, of malice and of long harbored vengeance.  Jesus is meek.  He is not waiting for the right time to strike us down for what we have done to Him, how we have attacked His Holiness with our sins, how we have attacked those whom He loves, or how we have attempted to thrust Him out of our lives.  He is gentle.  He is patient with us. Many of the parents of Teenagers are meek in just this way.  They are patient with their Teens and not concerned with what their children have said to them or even done to them.


            We can see this Divine Meekness in one of the fiercest books of the Bible, The Book of Revelation. Chapter 6 of the Book of Revelations presents the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This is in the section of the seven seals. A white horse comes forward and its rider is given a crown and called on to continue the victory of the Lord.  A red horse is summoned, and its rider told to let people slaughter each other in their continual and unending wars.  Then the Black Horse comes and its rider has a scale as people are afflicted with famine, and finally a sickly green colored horse comes.  Its rider is Death.  When the fifth seal is opened, prayers are heard from under God's altar.  There, under the altar, are the souls of all those who have been slaughtered for giving witness to the Lord.  These are the martyrs.  Peter and Paul are there.  St. Ignatius of Antioch and all those thrown to the lions and killed by the Romans are there.  Twelve-year-old Agnes is there as are the new mothers, Perpetua and Felicity.  So also are all those throughout history who have died giving witness for Christ.  The sixteen Carmelite nuns of Compiegne are there.  They were beheaded during the French Reign of Terror, singing Veni Creator Spiritus as they were murdered youngest to oldest before a hushed crowd.  The North American martyrs are there, St. Isaac Jogues, St. John DeBrebeuf and their companions.  Those who have been killed for being Christians by radical Moslems are there.  The 58 martyrs of Baghdad murdered on October 31, 2010 are there adding their voices to the thousands and thousands before them calling out, as the Book of Revelations says: "How long will it be, holy and true Master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth."  It is right here that we find Divine Meekness, "Be patient," the Lord says, "Be patient for a little while longer,  More will be added to your number."  More will have the chance to choose the Lord. 


            When we say the Lord is meek, we do not mean that He is submissive.  We mean that He is so full of love that He is willing to be patient. Perhaps some of the murderers will have the opportunity to join the eternal family of the martyrs they created and themselves give witness to Christ.


            Jesus is humble of heart.  A proud person sees the universe revolving around him or her.  If there is an offense, the proud person refuses to forgive.  "Who does he think that he is?" the proud person asks.  He or she is not concerned with returning the sinner to love.  His or her only concern is with vengeance.  That is not the way of the Lord.  Jesus is humble of heart. His concern is not with how He has been offended.  His concern is with the sinner and returning him or her to love. This is the mercy of God streaming from Jesus' heart.


            What does all this mean to us?  It means that we need to give Jesus our burdens.  This is more than the difficulties of life, sickness, marriage or family problems, etc.  Yes, we give these to the Lord, but there is more than this that He wants.  He wants us to give Him all that is keeping us from Him.  Perhaps there are sinful hidden closets in our lives.  We are ashamed.  Perhaps there is some form of substance abuse.  Perhaps there is some form of sexual immorality.  Perhaps we have  difficulty forgiving those who have hurt us.  Maybe we have committed serious sins.  We had an abortion or we convinced another to have an abortion. Often we are afraid that God is never going to forgive us.  We have attacked Him, willingly and knowingly.  How can we seek forgiveness?  So, we think that we are condemned to go through life carrying these burdens only to wait for everlasting punishment after we die. 


            "No," the Lord says, "Give me your burdens, come to me for I am meek and humble of heart."  He is saying, "I am not so offended that I am shutting off mercy and compassion.  I am not concerned about myself.  I am concerned about you.  I suffered on the cross for you.  Give me your burdens.  I want them, no matter how ugly, how messy they may be."


            And then the Lord says, "And you will find rest for yourselves, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." The burden of being a Christian is light next to the burden of carrying our sins to the grave and beyond.  Following the way of holiness, being separate from what others consider everyday life, is a lighter burden than carrying the weight of guilt that results from choosing to be part of the crowd that exalts in its immorality.  Holiness is being different from the immoral crowd.  Holiness is accepting the way of the Lord.


             Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told young people: "The world offers you comfort.  But you were not made for comfort.  You were made for greatness."  Every one of us was created for greatness.  To achieve this greatness means that there are times that we have to reject the comfort of the world.  There are times that we have to be uncomfortable.  We are mocked for our faith and our morality.  We are mocked for our refusing to live for ourselves.  We are mocked because we know that marriage is sacred and live that way.  We are mocked because we know that we have to avoid certain associates, certain places, certain parties, etc because we know that they can destroy us.  We are mocked because we are not part of the crowd. This is not comfortable. But we were not created for comfort.  We were not created to be part of the crowd.  We were created for greatness.  That is the burden, that is the yoke, that Jesus calls us to accept in today's Gospel.


            But is that burden, the burden of living moral lives, really so difficult?  Not when it is compared to the burden of carrying sin.  It is so much easier to carry the burden of the Lord.  The burden the Lord puts on us brings us joy.  It brings us peace with ourselves in this life and total union with Him in the next life.


            It is easy for us to sin.  It is difficult to live with our sins.  It can be a challenge to avoid sin, even a burden.  But it is a joy to live free of sin.  It is a joy to join those who sing with their lives, "All is well, all is well with my soul."


            "Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light."


Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
14 Ordinary Time

I Give You Praise, Father


(July 5, 2020)

Bottom line: In the Eucharist you join the whole cosmos in giving thanks to God. With Jesus we can say, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth..."



The great theme in today's reading is praise and thankgiving. Our Psalm says, "I will praise your name forever..." And Jesus exclaims, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth..." Praise springs from a grateful heart.

In spite of all we've been through this year, I feel a deep gratitude. As we celebrate Independence Day, I am thankful for our nation in spite of all our troubles. For me gratitude is personal and local. I think about our parish mission statement: "Blessed to live in this beautiful valley, we are Christians in union with Pope Francis and Archbishop Etienne who strive to lift up Jesus, love one another and make disciples." We are blessed to live in this gorgeous valley.

I am grateful to be pastor of St. Mary of the Valley. This week I begin my twelfth year as your spiritual father (wait for applause). It seems like yesterday I came here in July of 2009. So much has happened: children and adults baptized, young couples married and the death of dear parishioners like Maggie Beatte, Leo Moore and of course Sister Barbara.

Those events have bonded us. And we've worked together, for example, the new bell tower, the centennial renovation of our hall, the upgrade of our church lighting, sound, rest rooms, pews, etc. I'm grateful to you for your support in all this and on a more personal level, the rectory renovation we will do with the parish share of the Called to Serve as Christ campaign. To date we've received $ _________ - 15% of total donated so far.

I could go on. I have many reasons for gratitude - and I know you do as well. Gratitude is important. Gratitude results in a smile - inner happiness. Even in times of trial and suffering, a person can find reason for gratitude, a reason to praise God.

The great prayer of gratitude is the one we are participating in now - the Mass, the Eucharist. The word itself means thanksgiving. In his pastoral letter for the Year of the Eucharist, Archbishop Etienne quotes Pope Francis: "Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God." Every creature, each in its own way, praises God - sun and moon, stars and fire. Living creature give glory to God. My puppy, Rosie Cotton, glorifies God in a way that lifts my heart.

You and I were created to give glory to God. Each of has something no one else possesses something no one else has. Without you something would be lacking in the Communion of Saints. When you come to Mass you bring your uniqueness - your prayers, works, joys and sufferings. You join the whole cosmos in giving thanks to God. With Jesus we can say, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth..."


Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
14 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
14 Ordinary Time

We must never forget that the Gospel that Christ preached was a Gospel of compassion and love and simplicity. In the text set before us today Jesus explains that his message is a very simple one that can be understood very well by children and ordinary people. However, so called sophisticated people are much more likely to misunderstand his words and find problems with his teaching.


Many people down the centuries have over complicated the Gospel. They have believed that it contains secret messages or felt that its strictures are burdensome and can only be followed by an elite group. But we know that this is not so. We understand that the Gospel message is an entirely simple one and that what it consists in is nothing other than love. Love for God and love for our neighbour. We understand that what God wants above everything else is for us to overcome our own selfishness and to love with a completely open heart.


We find that some of the greatest saints lived lives of utter simplicity. Just take, for example, St Theresa of Lisieux who gave an incredible amount of attention to the simplest of actions. There are many others such as St Benedict Joseph Labre or Blessed Charles de Foucauld who will be canonised soon. Both of these gave up on normal life and threw themselves on God's Providence; Benedict Joseph Labre living like a tramp and Charles de Foucauld living as a hermit in the Sahara Desert. These three saints were unsophisticated and lived utterly simple lives but focusing themselves on loving God and their neighbours in the human family.


The last three sentences in this extract from St Matthew's Gospel record some of the most compassionate words that Jesus ever uttered. Jesus holds out his hand to those who are overburdened by the cares of life. He is speaking to those who are experiencing troubles of every kind. He is reaching out to those bothered by illness whether it be physical or mental, he speaks to those experiencing difficulties in their relationships or with their finances. His words are directed at those who are burdened with troubles of every kind.


He tells them to learn from him; he tells them to look at the world as he sees it with eyes of gentleness and humility. And he offers them rest and comfort, peace and tranquillity. These are certainly therefore words of deep compassion and love. They are directed at the straightforward and ordinary people of our world. They are directed at the unsophisticated and the simple and he wants them to realise that he values and appreciates them greatly and he wants them to be close to him and to find in him the source of healing and of love.


It is plain that Christ has less time for those who live over-complicated lives; those who are caught up in impressing others or those who put their trust in material things. According to Christ, these people need to realise that simplicity is more important than sophistication, dependence better than dominance, love better than fame or glory.


Yes, Christ wears a yoke but, as he says so well, his yoke is easy and his burden is light. So, let us adopt that yoke and walk with him on the journey of life being sure that with him by our side we walk the way of love and trust and hope.

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