Tuesday, October 08, 2019

HOMILY for October 6, 2019: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Mercy Ridge Hermitage
October 6, 2019

The Effects of Having a Vision for Life
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato 

 

 

The Vision 


Today, I am focused on one word in the Scripture passages – the word vision.

The prophet Habakkuk in the first reading says: “Write down the vision. [And be patient because] the vision will have its time.”

He wants to make sure that they will remember the vision when life is tough – as it was when Habakuk was speaking. That’s why he tells them to write it down.

Habakuk’s advice about the vision is important
Ø We are to see the vision
Ø We are to trust the vision  
Ø And we are to live the vision

1.   See the Vision

First, we are to see the vision.

This means that we need to see Jesus himself.  We are to see him as the way to God and the way to know God because he is the Son of God

And so, we need to work to know Jesus just as thoroughly as we can.  We are to see his vision of God as a loving Parent – One who loves us unconditionally

We are to see his vision of ourselves – as human and sometimes sinful, yes, but also as worthy and beloved by God. And we are to see his vision of all humanity – of all persons as God’s sons and daughters
  
This vision gradually shapes who we become as persons. It shapes how we see our life, ourselves, others, our world and God himself 

 

2.    Trust the Vision 


Then, with this seeing, we are to trust the vision

Here we have to go back to the first reading – the prophet Habakkuk.  The people are suffering and crying out to God

“How long will this last, O Lord?  We are surrounded by violence and destruction

“There is strife and discord everywhere.  So, how long, O Lord, how long?”

And the Lord, through the prophet, reassures them: “Write down the vision.  [And be patient because] the vision will have its time.”

So, we are to trust the vision.  Perhaps we are in the middle of difficult chemotherapy treatments 

Or maybe we are in-between jobs and worried about how we are going meet our mortgage and cover all of our other bills.  In situations like these, God asks us to trust the vision

God asks us to trust that Jesus is walking this journey with us. God asks us to trust that the Holy Spirit will give us the strength we need to get through it all and so we hang on, we rise each morning with a sense of hope, and place one foot in front of the other

3.   Live the Vision 

And then it follows that we are to live the vision very intentionally – that is, with intentionality

Jesus says today:“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains.”  In other words, we are to set out to live the vision that faith gives us

So, a child or teen is to tell their parents the truth about what they did even if there will probably be a punishment. They tell the truth.

Or, we support human life not just in one area or on one issue, but in all areas and on all issues – wherever there is human life. Even though it is not simple and we have to think it all through carefully, we are consistent in our life ethic

So, we live the vision. We make this a priority, or rather, the priority in our lives.

Conclusion

And, if we do this, as Jesus says in the Gospel, this in itself will be our reward.  

This is what Jesus means when he talks about the servants not expecting the master to wait on them. Here Jesus isn’t talking about how a master should treat servants or how we are to treat one another

Instead, he is talking about our vision of ourselves – all of us, you and I seeing ourselves as servants of God. He doesn’t want us to expect, acclaim, or feel entitled to this or that

Rather, he wants us to (1) see the vision, (2) trust the vision, and (3) live the vision. And he is saying that an inner satisfaction and peace will be our reward and we will find that more than enough. 
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

HOMILY for September 22, 2019: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Mercy Ridge Hermitage
September 22, 2019

The Weight of a Snowflake 
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato 


The Mouse and the Owl 


There’s a story that once upon a time, a field mouse asked a wise old owl: “What is the weight of a snowflake?”

The owl answered:“Nothing! Nothing at all!” Well, the field mouse went on to tell the owl about the time he was resting on the branch of a fir tree.

It was snowing and he was counting each snowflake, until the number was exactly 3,471,952 snowflakes. Then, with the landing of the very next flake – c-r-a-c-k!

The branch of the fir tree snapped and the mouse tumbled to the ground. The mouse looked at the owl and said: “So! What is the weight of a snowflake?”

Little Things Have Effects 

That anecdote highlights an important lesson in today’s gospel.

Jesus says: “If people are trustworthy in little things, they will also be trustworthy in greater things.  But if people are dishonest in little things, they will also be dishonest in greater things.”

The point is that everything we do has significance.  Sometimes we think that some of our actions are not all that important – that they count for nothing, like a snowflake that seems to weigh nothing.

But the truth is that everything we do has an effect.  It has an effect 1) on our own moral character and 2) on the character of others.

 

Effects on Us 


Jesus clearly says that the way we handle the little, apparently unimportant things effects our total moral character.

A priest friend of mine tells a story about his first pastor. That pastor would always fold money in half three times when people handed him cash donations for the parish.

He did that to make sure he did not mix it with his own personal money. That is a good example of developing character by beginning with small matters.

Jesus suggests that we need to be alert to what seem to be small things: like telling lies to make ourselves look better or because we think it won’t hurt anyone; or like taking home office supplies from where we work because everybody else does it. Jesus is saying that if we avoid “little” things like these, slowly but surely we will be developing good moral character.

One minister said: “Integrity does not emerge full blown in us. It is built of thousands of little acts and decisions over many years that form our lasting character.”

Effects on Others 

Then, I believe it follows that our actions will have an effect on others, especially our children and youth.

Some years ago, there was a cheating scam at one of our major universities. A number of students were expelled.

A newspaper reporter studied the situation and wrote an article about why these young adults might have cheated on their exams. The reporter conjectured that it might have been a 6-year old hearing his father tell someone who was interested in buying his car that it didn’t burn oil when in truth, it did burn a quart and a half of oil every 3,500 miles. 

Or a 10-year old might have heard his parents talk about not including on their income tax return some money they had made on the side. Or a teenager at her job in a supermarket being instructed to hide the over-ripe strawberries on the bottom of the boxes.  

The newspaper reporter said that experiences like these could lead children and youth to develop an attitude about cheating on an exam. These “little” actions by adults have an effect on the character of young people.

Conclusion


So, eventually one more snowflake, that apparently weighs nothing, cracks the branch of the tree.

And the same thing can happen to us.  Eventually, one more “little” action that disregards moral norms can have a decisive and negative influence on character.

On the other hand, an accumulation of “little” things that are done from a sound moral basis will positively mold character and prepare us and others for life’s bigger issues. As Jesus says: “If people are trustworthy in little things, they will also be trustworthy in greater ones.”

Daily HOMILY for September 21, 2019: Feast of St. Matthew, Cycle C

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Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Friday, September 21, 2019

Jesus House

THE CALLING OF MATTHEW ++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  The Gospel for today speaks of Matthew’s call from what was then a dishonorable job.
Ø  Matthew was a Jew, collecting taxes for the Romans from his fellow Jews and probably adding substantial surcharges to the real tax for his own profit
Ø  He was viewed as a sinner, a sinful person, taking advantage of his own people
Ø  And yet, Jesus calls him to be an Apostle
Ø  Jesus says, “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners”
WE’RE ALL SINNERS MADE RIGHTEOUS +++++++++++
Ø  Jesus’ point is that it is necessary for us to recognize that none of us is righteous and all of us are sinners
Ø  From a theological perspective, we say that we have been made righteous by Jesus
Ø  What this means is that we have been placed into a right or good relationship with God by J
Ø  Doesn’t mean we’re free of sin and shortcomings
Ø  In fact, being righteous, in the sense we are using it, is a gift from God
Ø  It is a gift given on only one condition that we recognize that we are not righteous, that we are sinful and that we need God’s grace
THE BEGINNING OF MASS ++++++++++++++++++++++
Ø  It’s why we begin Mass with a recognition of our sins and failings and our need for forgiveness
Ø  This Penitential Act is not just a remnant of a past age when people were too guilt ridden
Ø  And it is not intended to begin Mass on a downer
Ø  It offers us a touch of realism, as we approach God and receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
Ø  It’s intended 2 lead us 2 a bit more self- knowledge & 2 remind us to look within
Ø  It is intended to help us admit our own humanity and need for growth, especially when we might be tempted to call others sinners, as Matthew’s fellow Jews were calling him today
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

HOMILY for September 15, 2019: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Mercy Ridge Hermitage
September 15, 2019

Ways of Being Lost … and Found!
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato 

 

 

Seeking What Is Lost


A while back, I seemed to have lost my one and only credit card.

I was at a gas station. When I opened my wallet to get a credit card to pay for the gas, I immediately saw it was gone.

Well, I began pumping the gas and immediately started looking for the missing credit card.  

I took everything out of my wallet and it wasn’t there. I looked in the glove compartment and under the seats of the car and it was nowhere in sight.

When I got back home, I looked all through my study and my bedroom – no credit card!

And then, I tried to get a grip on my anxiety. I asked myself: “When did I last use the credit card?”

I remembered using it the night before when I paid for my share of dinner with friends.

Immediately I called the restaurant and sure enough, they had the card. I had left it on the table after signing the bill. 

Seeking Who Is Lost

The emotion involved in realizing we’ve lost something of value is something we all experience and that experience can help us appreciate today’s Gospel

Jesus tells two stories: the one about a shepherd looking for one lost sheep and the other about a woman looking forlost coin. With these two images of the shepherd and the woman, Jesus is showing us how intense God is in looking for us when we are lost.


God is even more intense than me looking for my credit card! And then, with the images of the lost sheep and lost coin, Jesus shows us that we can be lost in two different ways.

 

Lost: Our Fault 


First, we can be lost like the one sheep.

We can wander off and our being lost is our own fault. So, we can get lost when we stop coming to Mass or stop praying personally outside of Mass and lose our centeredness in God.

We can get lost when we drift into being unfaithful to our major life commitment or vocation – to your marriage or for me to the priesthood. Getting lost in ways like these is what we call sin. 

But even though we get lost in these ways, Jesus is assuring us that God is still there, still loving us and looking for us. God is like the shepherd looking for that one lost sheep.  

In fact, when we are like that one lost sheep, hopefully our conscience will bother us and we will feel guilty. These guilt feelings are really God intensely looking for us and trying to bring us back. 

And, by all means, notice in Jesus’ image that the shepherd does not scold or punish the lost sheep. Instead, he joyfully carries it back to the flock – what a good example this is for how we as a Church are to relate to a lost sheep!

Lost: No Fault

And then we can be lost like the lost coin.

This means that we are lost through no fault of our own. For example, we can feel lost when we are grieving the death of a husband or wife.

Or we can feel lost when we are dealing with depression. When we are lost in ways like these, again God is still there, loving us and wanting to be close to us, even though we may not feel it. 

God is like the woman looking for the one lost coin. Some of our great spiritual teachers have called these experiences dark nights of the soul.  

In these times, we may need to push ourselves to come to Mass or to pray. We may need to push ourselves to stick to our commitments and things of everyday life. 

And we may need to push ourselves to respond to the companionship of family and friends. But, if we hang in there and give God a chance in these ways, we can be found and we can find ourselves once again.    
    

Conclusion


So, a powerful lesson today: 
1.   About God, searching for us when we are lost, and 
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2.   About ourselves, the ways we can be lost and how we might respond when that happens!