Message: God has great plans and we have no excuse for not responding.
Last week we heard Jesus say, "Young man, I tell you, arise!" Jesus wants to lift us up. We saw that as some 70 of our youth received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Jesus wants to lift us up. How does this happen? It happens when we look to him, when we call out to him, when we center our lives on him. You can express it this way: When we lift up Jesus, he lifts us up. This happens literally in the Mass because the bread and wine become his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity - that we lift to the Father. In our lives we lift up Jesus by our actions and words. We give him first place, for example, by beginning the day with prayer. When we lift up Jesus, he lifts us up.
This leads to our parish priorities which I am publishing this weekend. Our first priority is: Lift up Jesus. From this first priority flow two others: Love One Another and Make Disciples. These priorities will guide us in the coming years.
To live our priorities we have specific goals for the year 2016-2017. For convenience sake our parish year goes from July 1 to June 30.
The difference between priorities and goals will become clear if you look at the triptych. It lists the three ongoing priorities and the three immediate goals. You will also see key dates relating to our parish goals. I ask you take the triptych home, to read it and keep it handy. I will be referring to it in homilies, Flocknotes, Generations of Faith and other gatherings. The priorities and goals will guide our staff as we carry out parish programs.
This Sunday - in light of our readings - I want to address a misgiving. Like many of you I face this misgiving often enough: I want to do great things and I know God has a great purpose for our parish, but at times I feel unworthy. I hear a voice saying, "Bloom, who are you kidding?" I can think of reasons I would be better off crawling into a hole.
But, you know, when I read the Bible, when I sit down to pray, I recognize that's all a bunch of excuses. This Sunday's reading take away our excuses. We see three people who were profoundly unworthy: the woman who washes Jesus' feet with her tears, Paul who once tried to destroy the Church and King David - a very flawed man.
Let's focus on David. God gave him him everything - placed him on a throne with power, possessions and honor. With breathtaking ingratitude David committed two of the worst sins. First he betrayed his family - and nation - by committing adultery. Then he compounded it by murdering her husband - a man who served David loyally and trusted him without reserve. David had sunk into the pits.
You and I have been there, haven't we? We may not have done something so heinous - and ungrateful. But we have sinned - done something shameful perhaps in the last 24 hours.
The question is not whether we have failed God and others. What matters is what we do about it. A young priest friend gave me an important insight: Rather than facing sin, many people use sin to keep God at a distance.
David tried to do that. God gave him the kingdom but he wanted a kingdom without God. To keep God at a distance he put on a bluff.
Well, God called his bluff. We hear it in today's first reading. When you go home, I encourage you to read the entire chapter: 1 Samuel chapter 12. God our calls bluff because of mercy. David tried to run away but God pursued him. David finally found peace when he surrendered. "Lord, forgive the wrong I have done." Then David continues, "I confess my faults to the Lord - and he took away the guilt of my sin."
What's David telling us? God has great plans and we have no excuse for not responding. In the coming weeks we will see more about God's plan for you, for me and for us as a parish.
Next week we will see some of God's incredible possibilities for us. I will lead into this in a way that might surprise you: By saying something about the transgender movement. That's for next week.
For today I ask you to consider God's plan for you and for our parish. Hold on to the triptych with priorities and goals. Treat it like a passport to travel this journey. As we learned today, God has great plans and we have no excuse for not responding. Remember Paul. Remember the sinful woman. Remember David: "Lord, you took away the guilt of my sin. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice." Amen.
From Archives (Homilies for Eleventh Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru