Boots Laced Week 2: High Stakes

(Homily for Twenty-Sixth Ordinary Sunday Year C)

Message: Saint Joseph can help in times of difficulty. Go to him. The stakes are high.

This is the second homily in our series Boots Laced. As Pope Francis says, "The times we live in do not call for young 'couch potatoes' but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced."

This weekend we honor a man who always had his sandals ready - his boots laced: St. Joseph. We inaugurate our new St. Joseph statue.* At the conclusion of the General Intercessions Knights of Columbus will join me in leading a prayer asking the saint's intercession.*

Our current Holy Father has a particular devotion to St. Joseph. He began his papacy on March 19 - Feast of St. Joseph. One of his first acts was to include St. Joseph in all the Eucharistic Prayers. In his office he has a statue of Sleeping St. Joseph. He places intentions under the Man of Dreams. In my office I have done the same - with remarkable results.

We need St. Joseph's intercession for parents forming their children in faith. This Sunday we bless the catechists who help the parents in that responsibility.

We need St. Joseph's intercession for our young men - that they will recognize the call to fatherhood - and to spiritual fatherhood. And for older men to recognize that you never retire from paternity. Someone said, "Father Bloom, you will die with your boots on." May it be so.

We need St. Joseph's intercession more than ever for purity of heart: He is the great model of chastity - the man who cares, respects and protects.

I invite you to join me in a novena - nine days of prayer - for St. Joseph's intercession. You can take the prayer card to say individually and with your family.

We are not talking about some pious thought. We are talking about high stakes. Today's readings show how high. The prophet Amos speaks about those "stretched comfortably on their couches." I'm not making it up. It's a direct quote: "stretched comfortably on their couches...they shall be the first to go into exile." The Assyrian exile, where they went, was brutal.

Jesus speaks about a worse fate. The rich man, the man who sought only his personal comfort, winds up in a place of eternal torment. It's described as a place of fire, a burning that comes from realizing how much he could have done, but didn't. He fell into comfort seeking. He avoided lacing his boots. He goes into eternity isolated from others.

Now, I know some people struggle with depression that paralyzes. Depression we know has chemical causes. That makes sense. The Bible describes us a body, soul and spirit. So medicines can help. Diet and exercise obviously help. Also I know many people, including priests, who have benefited from professional counseling.

When someone suffers paralyzing depression, cheerful advice doesn't help nor does judgment - direct or implied. I hope no one takes my homilies as judgment. In fact they are directed mainly to one person: Phil Bloom. Some of the things I struggle with others also do. Sometimes what I say - thanks be God - helps someone else.

Regarding depression I think of St. Alphonsus Liguori. He had the fortune - or perhaps misfortune - of living 90 years. Like St. Teresa of Calcutta in his final decades he experienced terrible darkness, almost despair. He did not however isolate himself. By prayer he united with the Communion of Saints. He went to one saint in particular. Here is what St. Alphonsus Liguori says about St. Joseph:

Go, then to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you;
Go to Joseph, and obey him as Jesus and Mary obeyed him;
Go to Joseph, and speak to him as they spoke to him;
Go to Joseph, and consult him as they consulted him;
Go to Joseph, and honor him as they honored him;
Go to Joseph, and be grateful to him as they were grateful to him;
Go to Joseph, and love him, as they love him still.

Saint Joseph can help in times of difficulty. Go to him. The stakes are high. Pope Francis puts it this way, "St Joseph also experienced moments of difficulty, but he never lost faith and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God never abandons us."

Next Sunday we conclude the novena to St. Joseph - the man who always has his sandals ready - Boots Laced. We will see that God does not want us to have spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power. In the words of today's readings: "Blessed is he who keeps faith forever...Lay hold of eternal life to which you were called." Amen.


*If you already have a statue of St. Joseph in your church, this weekend might provide a good opportunity to encourage devotion to this powerful intercessor - a great model, especially for our young men.

Blessing for St. Joseph Stature (bilingual)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Twenty-Sixth Sunday, Year C):

2013: Geography of Faith: The Threat of Exile
2010: The Choice: Heaven or Hell
2007: Why Was the Rich Man Condemned?
2004: He Dined Sumptuously
2001: An Eternally Unbridgeable Chasm
1998: The Abyss Between Heaven and Hell

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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