An Historic Week

(Homily Third Ordinary Sunday, Cycle C)

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.

Versión Castellana

From Archives (Homilies for Third Sunday, Year C):

2016: New Beginning: God's Plan
2013: I Do Not Belong
2010: Certainty of the Teachings
2007: If the Lord Gives a Burden
2004: God’s Weak Ones
2001: Returning to Our Roots
1998: An Historic Week

Other Sunday Homilies

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

Parish Picture Album

(January 2013 - in Peru with Fr. Thomas Nathe)

My bulletin column (Haiti collection results, March for Life, Postcard campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform)

St. Mary of the Valley Album

(January 2010)

Bulletin (Death of Betty Lutz, Highlights of Peru Visit, Upcoming Events)


Bulletin (Feasibility Study results, Catholic Schools, Fr. Derek Lappe - Pro-Life Prayer)


Amy Welborn Explains the Gullibility of Da Vinci Code Fans

Ron Belgau to speak at Georgetown ("The Love that Does not Count the Cost: A Biblical Reflection on Same-Sex Attraction and Christian Love")

Pro-life Homily (Fr. Jim Tucker)

Questions from a High School Senior (Answers by Mark Shea)


Samwise Goes to Olympia (2004 March for Life)

Pictures from Peru

MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru