Deacon Cornellís Homily

Readings:   

Isaiah 49:14-15
1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Gospel:
Matthew 6:24-34

Date:

February 26-27, 2011, Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Fr. Austin Fleming, in his Concord Pastor blog, reminds us that we have not heard these readings at Mass in over 20 years, due to the interaction of the 8th Sunday in Ordinary time with the timing of Easter. So there might be a whole generation of Catholics who think a reference to Lilies of the Field is simply a reference to the Sidney Poitier film from 1963.

Between the readings the past few weeks from the Sermon on the Mount, the Cardinal's video homily on Evangelization, and our Generations of Faith session the last few months, many of you have been hearing quite a lot about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And, in case you were not listening closely, the theme running through all of these messages is that it is quite hard to be a true disciple. I have had several conversations and seen a number of online postings over the last month that remind me how frequently we think that the sermon on the mount is just an ideal that only applies in full to the saints. Surely Jesus is not saying, as we heard in last week's Gospel, that every one of us who claims to be a disciple must love their enemy! Love Osama Bin Laden? Muammar Gaddafi? Sarah Palin? Nancy Pelosi? Hitler? The women who nearly rear ended me in Natick last week and then honked and indicated she thought I was number 1? Yes, that is exactly who Jesus says I need to love. Not condone, or excuse, or even like. But love? Yes that is exactly what Jesus commands us, me, to do.

And what about today's Gospel? Does Jesus really expect me not to worry about keeping food on the table, and paying the mortgage, and putting the kids through college, and paying for health care, and keeping my job in this economy? Yes, that is exactly what Jesus expects of his disciples, of me, and you.

No wonder only 17% of Catholics in our neck of the woods come to Mass regularly. Like the people who heard Jesus 2000 years ago, I am not surprised that people would say these sayings are hard; who can accept them? So how do we accept them, and try to live them as disciples? I would like to suggest three things to reflect on that can help us to apply Jesus' words to our lives so we can be more effective disciples.

The first is understanding what Jesus is NOT saying. Jesus is not commanding us not to work or not to plan, or even not to be concerned about providing the basics in life. Even though the birds of the field don't plant or reap, anyone who is watching the birds this winter knows that they work very hard. And even if you have provided their food, they are very concerned about their safety as they check out the surroundings before every peck, to ensure there are no predators around.

The second is understanding where our priorities are. How many times do we see someone on TV being interviewed in front of the remains of their house after a fire or flood or tornado or earthquake, saying, "The important thing is that we all alive and healthy. All that we lost were 'things'." Yet if we added up all the time and energy we have spent on worrying, how much was on those 'things' rather thanon our life and health and being? How much anxiety is caused by debt we acquired because of things we wanted as opposed to things we need?

And lastly, we need to see things as they really are. We are not the source of the basics of life; God is. As Jesus' images remind us, God's abundance is without limit. Paul points this out in that letter to the Corinthians when he says that we are servants and stewards of God's mysteries, not the source.

The story about the fire department's efforts at the Fitzpatrick house fire suggested a way of reflecting on this. Chief McLaughlin described the difference between fighting a fire out here in Stow where there is not a municipal water supply and in a city setting where there is. The story described how the fire fighters had to set up portable water stations that were filled by trucking water from other locations. At the Fitzpatrick fire, there were 12 firefighters assigned to keeping these water stations full so the others could fight the fire. If Stow had a municipal water system, all they would have had to do was hook up the hoses to the hydrants and they would have had a sufficient supply of water. Jesus is telling us today that God is the source. To worry about how we will get the basics in life is like assigning 12 firefighters to watching the hose connected to the hydrant. What a waste of manpower when they could be fighting the fire directly.

So let us pray that we re-direct all the energy and time we spend worrying into loving. That is what seeking first the Kingdom of God means. If really care about what the future will bring for us, our children and their children, know that the closer we get to establishing the Kingdom of God here, the better the future will be for us and them. Don't worry about tomorrow. Live in today because right here and now is the only time and place we can love.

And to be a disciple means to love; that is the only way the kingdom of God will be established.

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