Three Kinds of Men

(Homily Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A)

I’d like to begin with a quote from the English writer, C.S. Lewis. He observes:

“There are three kinds of people in the world. The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them. In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them – the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society – and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time 'on parade' and 'off parade', 'in school' and 'out of school'. But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them 'to live is Christ'. These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting those rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistical will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.” (Three Kinds of Men)

Lewis goes on to note that most of us belong to the second class and “for that reason are always and necessarily unhappy.” Trying to respond to higher claims leaves us either feeling exhausted or guilty - or both. Says Lewis, “The Christian doctrine that there is no ‘salvation’ by works done according to the moral law is a fact of daily experience.” We are caught in the middle. At certain moments we envy those simply disregard the higher claims. At the same time, we sense that our lives would be truly happy if we could take that step of giving ourselves totally to Christ: dying to self and living for Him.

Today Jesus invites us to do precisely that, to entrust our lives totally to Him. “You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” How joyful our lives would be if we could make this act of faith – and stick to it! Jesus gives us the amazing promise that, if we do so, our hearts will no longer be troubled.

During the last twenty-six years, you and I were privileged to witness a man who, by all human measures, consistently gave himself to Jesus. At the funeral of Pope John Paul, young people in the crowd began to chant, “Santo subito.” Declare him a saint right now! People throughout the world, especially youth, were attracted to the pope because they sensed he was that third type of man, one who made the act of faith in Jesus.

These past few weeks we have heard a lot of different opinions about the kind of man that people hope the new pope will be. But when one reflects on the matter, it becomes clear that there is one thing that everyone - whether Catholic or not - desires to see in the new pope: sanctity.* If we want a saintly pope, what about you and me? Do we pray that our pope, our bishops, our priest will become saints? Are we striving to become saints?

The pope’s predecessor – in fact, the first pope – says it very simply in the letter we listened to today. He laid out the path to sainthood: “Come to him.” Even though others reject Jesus or even feel ashamed of him, do not let that dissuade you. Come to Jesus. Make his will yours. In him you will find your true happiness, your true freedom, your true self. Come to him.


*In a paradoxical manner the abuse scandal underscores this desire. Compare the reaction to abuse by teachers to that of abuse by priests. Recently I was talking with some young people who were aware of high school (and junior high) teachers who had sexually abused their students. Some of the abusers were moved from district to district; in one case the man continues to function as a coach. The young people asked why there has not been a similar outrage against the teachers and administrators such as we have experienced in the Church. The answer is obvious. Even non-believers want to see holiness in priests and bishops - and they are bitterly disappointed when they find the opposite.

We pay a heavy, very heavy price for the super-human dignity of our calling. The ridiculous is always so near to the sublime. And the world, usually so indulgent to foibles, hates our instinctively.

--Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

Spanish Version

From Archives:

2014 Homily: Journey to Hope Week 5
2011: The Truth
2008: A Virgin Path
2005: Three Kinds of Men
2002: I Am The Way

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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Fr. Brad's Homilies

Bulletin (Reactions to Pope Benedict XVI, Pope's Older Brother, Testimony for Appeal)


Why Benedict?

"Each of us gives the kiss of peace to the person next to him, and so in effect gives it to the whole assembly..." (Theodore of Mopsuestia, 428 A.D.) It is appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner. (GIRM, 82)

from Ken Concannon:

In an interview with Bill O’Reilly of television’s The O’Reilly Factor in November of 2003, Adamson, now recovered from her misdiagnosed "vegetative" state, described the feeding tube removal as "sheer torture." She also talked of the "hunger pains" during the eight days she was disconnected from her feeding tube. Adamson now feeds herself, runs her family, is a motivational speaker, and has written a book, Kate's Journey: Triumph Over Adversity. Unlike Terri Schiavo, her feeding tube was reinstalled, and she received aggressive rehabilitation.

Eucharist for sale on eBay? (Dom lists four ways one can protest such outrages.)

from Cardinal Ratzinger's homily in Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff:

All people want to leave a mark which lasts. But what remains? Money does not. Buildings do not, nor books. After a certain amount of time, whether long or short, all these things disappear. The only thing which remains forever is the human soul, the human person created by God for eternity.

The Most Important Vote by Fr. Frank Pavone

Mark Shea on MSNBC "I also suggested that we should wait until the pontificate of Benedict XVI was more than six hours old to either declare the coming of the Millennium or the End of the World as We Know it..."

Kerry: Ratzinger Papal Election is 'No Mandate': "he should never take what is an article of faith for him, personally, and try to impose it on others..." (Scrappleface satire)

Cardinal Newman Society: Catholic Colleges Defy Bishops to Honor Public Dissidents; also Seattle University Professors Defend Abortion

Parish Picture Album

(May 2011)

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

Parish Picture Album


MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

KRA's and SMART Goals (updated May 9, 2014) Word document