This has been an historic
week. First of all the visit of Pope John Paul to Cuba. Thanks
to EWTN I was able to see most of the Masses, but what impressed
me most deeply was the welcoming ceremony. The Holy Father stood face to face with the country's dictator of almost 40 years.
But it wasn't like a stand-off between heads of state, but rather
like a shepherd seeking a lost sheep. Proof of this is the fact that last November he spent
over two hours just listening to Castro. Where others might only
see a despot with questionable record, the Holy Father sees a
human person with infinite value and dignity.
The Holy Father's visit to
Cuba was overshadowed by events here in our own country. In them
too we can see the difference between the world's way and God's
way. For the world the only question is, "Did Clinton do
it? Is he guilty?" The world says if someone can keep their
guilt hidden, everything is fine. But if it comes to light, we
want to throw him in the garbage. How different with God! He
knows our guilt. He knows our sins and is ready to forgive at
the slightest sign of repentance. On the other hand we take a
morbid interest in discovering other people's faults. Have you
ever noticed how easily we recognize them? We spot the deceptions,
the cover-ups, the betrayals, the self-indulgence. Let's be honest, we see those faults so quickly because
we are looking into a mirror. Nothing surprises us-because what
we see is our selves. Sure, we haven't done the exact things
Castro and Clinton have. But remember: what passes for virtue
is often simply lack of opportunity.
Don't get me wrong. I am
not asking you to repent for Clinton or Castro's sins. They have
to do that themselves--and to accept the consequences of their
own wrongdoing. The danger when we focus on someone else's wrongdoing,
is to say, "At least I didn't do what he did." No,
you did not. You did worse. You are only seeing a tiny fraction
of the other person's soul, surely not their greatest sin. But you
know your own. At least more of your own. C.S. Lewis remarked
that it is part of God's merciful courtesy that he does not show us the
worst of who we are. We couldn't handle it. But the small part
floating on our consciousness, indicates something huge and potentially
destructive down below. The little bit we see of our own selves
should make us tremble and ask, "When will the Good Shepherd
come for me? Take me, even me, back to the flock?" You
will not have to wait so long. He is already seeking you out.
Jesus wants you back in the flock, his Body, the Church.
Each individual--in Christ--has
an infinite, incalculable value. Even tho it is tempting, we
can never sacrifice one for the good of many. That is why abortion
must be resisted. In the middle of such dramatic events this
week, few paid attention to the horrible fact that we have legally
sanctioned that act for twenty five years. As followers of Jesus
we cannot live with such a law.
This week which has seen such
terrible news, actually began rather with promise. On Monday
we celebrated the Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. He used
to talk about how we must "keep our eyes on the prize."
For him as a Baptist minister prize is salvation, eternal life
with God. That's what kept him going in bleak moments, when he
was thrown in jail, when he was criticized, when even his close
associates attacked him.
Jesus also talks about his
long range goal. In fact in today's Gospel we hear a kind of
"mission statement." As Jesus begins his public ministry,
he unravels the scroll and finds the section in Isaiah which says,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed
me," Then he enumerates a five point plan:
preach good news to the
poor. proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of
sight to the blind, freedom to those who are oppressed
and to announce a year of favor from the Lord.
Those are broad, sweeping
goals. In today's second reading, St. Paul focuses them on one
great goal. We are called to be members of the Body of Christ.
Our final end is union with him in the communion of saints.
That is the "prize." To win the prize we have to use
the gifts God has given us for the service of each other, to build
up the Body of Christ. In the Church today we call this "Stewardship"
or "Sacrificial Giving" because it encompasses how we
use everything that God has given us: time, talent and treasure.
I've spent a number of hours
these past couple of weeks with the individual financial statement
for 1997 which we have mailed out to every contributor. I see
that giving, whether its large amounts or small, as a sign of
that desire to use your gifts to build up the Body of Christ.
I also have to say as pastor that is wonderful, it is so encouraging,
to see the depth of support for Holy Family Parish.
Because this is such an important part of our parish life, this Sunday I would like to ask our Pastoral Associate for Administration to explain a little bit more about this whole picture. He's my right hand man and I would ask you to give him your complete attention. Mr. Greg McNabb.
From Archives (Homilies for Third Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
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