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Get into the ring! How this works...

This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!

Friday, October 22, 2010

October 24, 2010 - 30th Sunday of the Year

  • Homily from last Sunday is in the library ->
  • The Scriptures for this Sunday are at ->
  • I am preaching at the 5:30pm on Saturday and 9:30am on Sunday

Dangerous Religion!

Just when I thought I didn't have anything more to say about faith, it appears God does. While last week's discussion about the nature of being faithful (remember the battle), this week's insight has to do with how one ought to think about the practice of the faith.

St. Paul's letter to Timothy is a beautiful reflection upon the state of his faith and the role or purpose that faith. He says, "I have kept the faith". He realizes that being faithful, running the race, fighting the fight of faith has resulted in himself being given away for the sake of God. "I am being poured out like a libation. What do you think your faith is suppose to be accomplishing in you?That question is answered in the Gospel text.

The pharisee in the gospel is a good religious man, he has done the good and honorable religious thing, but he has not allowed faith to accomplish its purpose - keeping him in communion with God. In contrast, the publican/tax collector is a bad guy, he does bad and terrible, sinful things. However Jesus endorses the tax collector because he is allowing faith to accomplish its purpose in his life - moving him into deeper communion with God. The purpose of believing is to be in communion with God.

I use the expression "cling to the hand of God" as my understanding of faith. It is the flip side of Jesus' promise to "be with you always." Faith, believing for me, is my being with God that little kid walking down the street with his mom or dad...almost unconsciously clinging to that safe hand.

On the weekend of my ordination as a priest the church was celebrating the Baptism of the Lord. The reading from the prophet Isaiah said, "I the Lord have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand." I took that as the "motto" of my first Mass celebration (holy cards, etc). It is an image or a concept that has become much more important for me as I have grown into my faith and my priestly be grasped by the hand of God. I love that. I live that (some of the time) and I preach that to others.

The danger with religion and religious people is that we become forgetful rather than faithful. We begin to see the practice of the faith as something we have if it is about us. That's the pharisee. Sadly, in these cases our practice of the faith becomes the obstacle to "being full of faith". It's hard to see but it is deadly indeed. Self-satisfied feelings (Good thing I am not like other people) rather than God-appreciating thoughts (Lord, have mercy on me a sinner) is the danger of religion. The first separates us from God's loving embrace - the second draws us in.

Is faith accomplishing its purpose in you, namely, to keep your hand safely in the palm of God's hand? Or is your religious life and practice pulling your hand away from God's and pating you on the back? Dangerous Religion!


anon 1 said...

That is a beautiful image of faith – keeping my hand safely in the palm of God. It reminds me of the sensation I have while holding the rosary. Sometimes I hold a small one as I drive to work, even if I’m not reciting it at the moment. I feel safely held by God, through Jesus, through Mary.

And I love the Matador’s challenge “Is faith accomplishing its purpose in you….” It helps me “check myself” for the tangible ways I am resting in God, only to be reinvigorated to again run the race and continue the fight - a race and a fight that hopefully contribute to the Kingdom in a good and beautiful way.

Jim said...

You are so right about becoming forgetful instead of faithful. It is so easy to be the pharisee and think we are "so holy". "I prayed at the adoration chapel today, therefore I am not like the others"

I, like what you said that "faith is being with God always." The image of the hand being held is a good one to keep in mind.

Peg said...

First of all I love Timothy. nuff' said. God fills us up with so much faith that it must overflow. We often don't know when a kind work or act hits home. But Grace and Faith is ever filling us up and must certainly bubble over like a misty rain and touch those around us. Those who have faith always are touching, connecting with everyone.

Anonymous said...

Father, can u explain the fine line between being humble, and being self-deprecating? Oftentimes when I am trying to practice humility, I tend to put myself down and underestimate my worth in God's eyes.

Thanks if you choose to answer. lr

Anonymous said...

Father, thank you for the inspiring and enlightening message. My grandfather passed away in August and this past week, I have missed him terribly. The gospel was the one read at my grandfathers funeral, I was so sad to listen to the words. When you came down off the altar, which I love that you do that, I couldn't wait to hear what you said. Your words refocused me and made me think about my faithfulness. Thank you for giving me this message to carry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks gang.