Come to Me You Who Are Burdened

(Homily for Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A)

Before giving the actual homily, I want to say something about the parish financial situation. I'd like to preface it with a humorous story:

A mafia mobster died and his brother told the priest, “I will give you $200,000 if, during the funeral, you say my brother was a saint.”

The priest, being pastor of a poor parish like Holy Family, was not about to miss the opportunity. After reading the Gospel, he walked down next to the casket and said, “This man robbed millions, he cheated on his wife, defrauded the government, never paid his taxes... However, compared to his brother, he was a saint!”

Like the priest in the joke, I also need two hundred thousand dollars. I know summer is not the best time to talk about money, but we have just completed a “fiscal year.” As you can see in the bulletin, we are in debt. This year we had the huge deficit in our parish school: $240,000. (Expenses for salaries and programs: $895K. Income from tuition and fundraising: $655K.)

I am not expecting that one person will give me $200 thousand. However, we do have two thousand families. If each one would give an additional five dollars a Sunday, we could eliminate our debt by Christmas – and be able to advance with our parish programs. I am counting on you.

This Sunday Jesus give an invitation:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)

During summer we might imagine Jesus is talking about a good vacation. That could be. However, I have noticed that when people strive to “get away from it all, just relax totally,” they often come home more exhausted and anxious than when they left.

A Spanish soldier discovered a similar paradox (seeming contradiction) back in the sixteenth century. A cannon ball struck his right shin, leading to a forced “vacation.” To fill the long hours, he started reading the only books available – lives of saints. He began asking himself what if he tried to do the things that Francis and Dominic did. That idea filled him with same excitement as when he thought about the exploits of heroic knights. But he noticed a difference. When the chivalric fantasies subsided, he felt empty, agitated. However, after envisioning himself as a modern St. Dominic, he came away refreshed, energized.

The soldier used this experience to lead other men in “spiritual exercises.” Thus he formed what was, until quite recently, the greatest religious order in the Church – the Jesuits. You probably know the young soldier’s name: St. Ignatius of Loyola.*

Only Jesus can provide rest based on inner renewal.

To be able to take a vacation is a great privilege. However, St. Paul gives a stark reminder, which many of us should write on the inside of our suitcase: “If you live according to the flesh, you will die.” Instead, make a place for Jesus and you will find true rest.

************

*Ignatius recognized that, while God forgives sinners, he desires each person to become a saint. Oscar Wilde, a deathbed convert to Catholicism, made this famous quip: "The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican Church will do." (Quoted by H. W. Crocker in Triumph: The Power and Glory of the Catholic Church - A 2,000-Year History. Recommended summer reading.)

Spanish Version

From Archives (for Fourteenth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):

2017: Spiritual Warfare Week 3: The Yoke of Jesus
2014: Life in the Spirit Week 1
2011: Take My Yoke
2008: Not Debtors to the Flesh
2005: The Real Revolution
2002: Come to Me You Who Are Burdened
1999: Where are the Catholic Politicians?

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)

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