Message: In Jesus we become rich in what matters to God.
It is good to be back home after the World Youth Day experience. In one of the prayer vigils Pope Francis mentioned that many enjoy soccer. This brought cheers. Then he referred to the coming World Cup. Even louder cheers. Finally he said that Jesus is a "greater prize than the World Cup!" Young people stood, raised their hands and gave a sustained cheer.
Jesus is the one great prize. That's what we see in today's readings. In comparison to Jesus everything in this world is vanity. Only Jesus has ultimate worth - and only in him does anything have value. Apart from him all is emptiness, vanity.
The pope encouraged young people to give themselves to Jesus, to not let fear hold them back. He told about a Brazilian Saint: Blessed Jose de Anchieta. In spite of poor health, he began evangelizing at the age of 19. His example really struck me. I was upset by some of the inconveniences - long waits, standing in rain with a queasy stomach - but then I heard about Blessed Jose. Before he even got started, he suffered a shipwreck of the coast of Brazil! He continued on, learned the peoples' language, lived with them - and made hundreds of converts to Jesus.
Besides Blessed Jose de Anchieta I would like to tell you about another young man who gave himself totally to Jesus. His commitment will help us understand today's second reading. His name was Eric Liddell - the young Scotsman featured in the movie, Chariots of Fire. In his late teens he joined a couple of other young men in embracing the Four Absolutes: Absolute Honesty, Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness, Absolute Love.
This is what St. Paul tells us, Absolute Honesty, "Stop lying to one another." How beautiful our lives would be if we could be completely open to each other. To do that, St. Paul tells us, we need to become new people in Christ. Put to death those parts of you that are "earthly: impurity...evil desires and greed," which as St. Paul says, "is idolatry."
Greed is idolatry because we make gods out of our possessions. I can start to think that I am somebody because I have a nice home, the latest computer, money on my credit card. But as Jesus reminds us, those things are ultimately empty. Tonight God could demand my life. My possessions - the things I worked hard for - will not matter. They will go to someone else who might not even appreciate them.
We all know "you can't take it with you." But there is a paradox: What we give away, we do take with us. C.S. Lewis went further, "Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours...The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God."* As Jesus tells us: instead of storing up things in this world, we need to become "rich in what matters to God."
Your life or mine could end tonight. No suffering will last forever, nor will any pleasure. Only eternity will go on forever. Where we spend eternity depends on our relationship with Jesus, now. Only one thing matters - Am I giving myself to Jesus? Becoming a new person in him? He is the great prize, the only prize. In Jesus we become rich in what matters to God. "If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father." Amen.
Here are other quotes on generous giving:
I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. (C.S. Lewis)
When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy and prosperous. Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can, does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man! (John Wesley)
If I leave behind me 10 (pounds), you and all mankind bear witness against that I lived and died a thief and a robber. (John Wesley)
Man should not consider his material possession his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need. (Thomas Aquinas)
The more you give, the more comes back to you, because God is the greatest giver in the universe, and He won't let you outgive Him. Go ahead and try. See what happens. (Randy Alcorn - The Treasure Principle)
In my opinion, the idea that we should postpone generous giving (to the church) until our debts are paid or until we get a raise or until the children are grown up or until we have bought a house is contrary to Scripture. We may be able to give more then, but we ought to give generously now. (Wayne Mack - Strengthening Your Marriage)
From Archives (18th Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies
Resources for Geography of Faith
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
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World Youth Day 2013
(click on the picture to view 40 slides from our WYD experience)
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
(new, professional website)
KRA's & SMART Goals (updated June 2013)
A Homilist's Prayer