The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homily: Wednesday, 33rd Week of Ordinary Time

Readings: 2 Mc 7:1, 20-31; Ps 17; Lk 19:11-28


The story of the Maccabees is a marvelous story. It’s the story of the Jewish uprising in the 2nd century before Christ against the remnants of Alexander’s empire. And it’s a story that’s very relevant to our own times. For it’s a story of tremendous courage -- political, moral and personal -- as well as a story of remarkable faith.

Jewish mother & her seven sons, all martyred
We encounter such courage in both Mattathias and in his son, Judas Maccabeus, the war hero of the period and the one for whom the two books are named. But we also encounter tremendous courage and faith in today’s reading about the mother and her seven sons who accepted martyrdom rather than compromise their faith.

Mattathias refused to compromise his religion for political favor. And in doing so, he didn’t hesitate to sacrifice his earthly wealth and security in order to be faithful to principle. He called on his people to do the same, and judging by today’s first reading, the faithful listened.

Leadership today demands no less! And while it’s easy and common for us to point at compromising politicians and others, comparing them unfavorably with such courageous biblical leaders, perhaps we’re pointing in the wrong direction. Perhaps we should be looking at ourselves.

It’s unlikely that you and I will ever face martyrdom in our safe little corner of the world. Although our lives and fortunes might not be at stake, it’s not that easy to be a person of real faith in today’s confused world, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult.

We find this same thought in today’s Gospel passage in which Jesus challenges us further by demanding that we use well His special, invaluable gift, His treasure of grace and mercy; for He has given us a share in His Divine Life. This gift, more valuable than anything else in our lives, is entrusted to us through our baptism and continues to be nourished in the Eucharist and the other sacraments of the Church. How we respond to this gift makes all the difference, doesn’t it? If we’re indifferent and lukewarm, we’ll lose whatever we have, but if we’re faithful with even a little, we will be entrusted with more.

Listening to this parable, I’m reminded of those challenging words from Lumen Gentium, that central document of the 2nd Vatican Counsel:
“…every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself, ‘according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal.’” [Lumen Gentium, 33]
And so, it’s you, the laity, who are called to extend the divine plan of salvation throughout the world. The clergy certainly can’t do it alone. There simply aren’t all that many of us. It’s your vocation, as faithful and faith-filled Christians, to pierce the darkness of the world and fill it with the light of Christ, to expose the folly of the world – its sin and error -- for what it really is, and to do so with courage and with love. Just like the faithful Jews of the Maccabees.

Lord, help us to use well the talents, time, and resources you have given us; but more importantly help us share your gift of faith by carrying your love to the world, all for your glory and your kingdom.

Praised be Jesus Christ....

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