Tag Archives: Providence

Homily, Sunday OT 28 B – The Call to Radical Discipleship


Wis 7:7-11
Ps 90   R/. Fill us with your love. O Lord, that we may rejoice and be glad.
Heb 4:12-13
Mk 10:17-27(30)


Today’s Gospel passage ties well to our Gospel from a couple weeks ago, about cutting off that which leads us to sin, but it takes a slightly different approach. It’s a simple and short story, a very human story, but it’s also very profound and moving.

Hoffman-ChristAndTheRichYoungRulerFor me, it’s one of the sad moments in the Gospels. Here’s a young man, who by all accounts was a good man: he sought to please God, followed well the Commandments and sought to do good, and earnestly desired eternal life. He wouldn’t have asked the question if he weren’t genuinely interested in holiness. And he demonstrates this thirst for holiness by asking what more he could do, what he still lacked. He knew that even though he was living a good life, he wasn’t yet holy.

And his question also tells us that he knew he was capable of doing more. He did indeed thirst for holiness, for righteousness, for spiritual perfection. That’s why I think we can so easily identify ourselves with him. And Jesus saw this willingness in him, that’s why He loved him (v. 21), and offered him what his heart desired.

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mt 26:41). How it must have saddened Jesus that the young man turned away. If only he’d known that God wouldn’t ask more than we can handle; that He would’ve been there to help him; that He would’ve fulfilled his every desire a hundredfold and that he would indeed inherit eternal life. If only the young man would’ve stayed a few minutes longer, he could’ve heard about the riches he would’ve received for his sacrifice of love. Who knows, maybe he would’ve been an Apostle.

But instead, he only heard that he’d have to give up his material wealth, that treasure which moth and rust consume (cf. Mt 6:19). He saw the pearl in the field, but didn’t see its value; the one he held in his pocket seemed bigger to him. How it must have saddened Jesus that the young man turned away.

Many have accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, to become His disciples; but many, because of their selfishness and materialism, have also gone away grieving (v. 22). And what grief it must be! Because the rich young man’s heart was divided: he desired eternal life, but his desire for his riches was stronger. His heart was indeed with his treasure (cf. Lk 12:34). How many times do we do the same? But only in God do we find peace, joy, and life.

All of us experience the struggle of this division in our lives. The life discipleship, the life of following Christ, is a life of self-sacrifice, a life of self-giving, a life given in love. (That’s why we often compare it to Marriage.)

As disciples, we’re all called to let go of our material possessions, of our earthly desires, so as to be free to follow Christ and seek holiness. It’s not that riches are bad in themselves; it’s our attachment to them that’s sinful, because such attachments are egocentric: they’re an obstacle to love; an obstacle to following Christ.

But all of us are called to be ready to sacrifice all things for the sake Christ, for the sake of eternal life. Whether Jesus asks this of us or not is a whole other question, but we need to be ready and willing to do so if He does. This is part of what is means to take up our cross (cf. Lk 9:23). As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle (no. 2015). This is a normal part of our life in Christ. There should be nothing more important to us than our salvation, because in the end, it’s either eternal life or eternal damnation — there’s no other option.

So let’s place ourselves in the shoes of the rich young man: What is God asking of me? Where is He asking me to go in my spiritual life? What’s my next step toward holiness? Is there anything holding me back? Do I have attachments I need to let go of in order to follow Christ more closely?

These are questions need to be constantly in our hearts and minds, because they help us discern God’s will, and they help purify our desires. And then we need to pray more, asking God to help us embrace this invitation, to help us say ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ, and to boldly follow Him, letting go of anything that keeps us away from Him. And so personal prayer and the Sacraments — especially Confession and the Eucharist — are key tools in our spiritual life.

Jesus gave Himself to us completely and without reservation, and He asks us to give ourselves to Him in return, completely and without reservation. This is the mutual exchange of love, the divine Marriage to which He calls us, and He won’t settle for less!

The call of the rich young man was an invitation to be united to the Saviour, to be conformed more perfectly to the image and likeness of Christ. Jesus makes that same invitation to each one of us: may we not turn away from it like the rich young man, but instead trust in God, and not let anything distract us from eternal life.

And since October is the month of the Rosary, may we entrust ourselves to our Blessed Mother, asking her to guide us along this path to eternal life; to say ‘yes’ to Jesus with our whole heart, with our whole life Amen.

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HOMILY – SUNDAY OT 18 A

Is 55:1-3
Ps 145       R/. You open your hand to feed us, Lord, and satisfy our needs.
Rom 8:35, 37-39
Mt 14:13-21
 

In our Gospel passage today, Jesus puts the Apostles to the test: you give them something to eat (Mt 14:16), He tells them, before a crowd of more than five thousand. Jesus challenges His disciples to trust in Him, and to use the small amount of food they have to feed the multitude.

Sometime around the 1980’s, many sceptics began to dismiss the miracles of multiplication that Jesus did. It was just a ‘miracle’ of sharing, they said; when people saw how the disciples were ready to share the little they had, others began to share their lunches too.

Well, if it were just a nice story about people being kind to one another, then it really has no place in the Bible! Because the Bible isn’t about ‘nice’, it’s about Christ! And Christ is God among us (cf. Mt 1:13), and all things are possible for God (cf. Mt 19:26).

Just over twenty years ago, my parents decided to move to the Edmonton area, and so we came to look for a house. We weren’t sure about our real needs or in which neighbourhood we wanted to live, so my parents were looking to rent. But our search for a decent rental was quite disappointing — even depressing (!) —, and we soon realised we had to buy. But putting together an unplanned down payment was going need a miracle.

Looking for some direction and some hope, early one morning my Dad turned to the Bible, as he often does, and began to read and pray. He came upon this passage of the multiplication of the loaves and was really struck by God’s overwhelming generosity in providing for His people. So after breakfast and sharing his prayers with Mom, Dad called us all to the table for a family prayer meeting. He read us the passage and shared with us how he felt God was asking us to give Him our ‘loaves and fishes’ so that God could multiply them.

So Dad emptied his pockets and put money on the table as a symbol of his loaves, and spontaneously we all followed suit, offering whatever we had. On an inspiration Dad also decided to include the family car, so he added the keys to the little pile. And with this we prayed, offering to God our loaves a fishes, asking Him to multiply them so that we might be able to buy a house.

That afternoon we went to visit a house. When we got there, the elderly man who owned it said he couldn’t let us in because the realtor, who had the keys, was in Toronto. As it turns out, the man was a developer, and so as not to waste our trip to St. Albert he insisted we come to see his new homes, even though they were far beyond our finances. And so we went.

The houses were beautiful, just the size we needed, and they were in a great location. It became clear to us that God had brought us here, and we began to feel that we had found the house the Lord wanted to give us. But we still didn’t know how the finances were going to work out. However, we trusted that God wouldn’t disappoint.

So Mom and Dad went to the bank, but the developer — who had great compassion on my parents with five teens — had already made arrangements with the manager. He was vouching for the down payment so we didn’t have to put one down, and since his daughter was a lawyer, she drafted up the papers, and there were almost no closing costs either. We moved into our new home in late August, a week before school began. But because the paperwork was slow, we ended up living in the house payment-free for two months, which gave us enough money to buy a second car, as my parents were teaching in opposite ends of the city. The Lord is gracious and merciful… His compassion is over all that He has made (Ps 145:8, 9)… He opens His hands to give us our food in due season (cf. Ps 145:16, 15).

Just like the loaves and fishes, God multiplied our little pile of change and keys. The Lord does indeed work miracles! And we need to ask and expect them from Him. But we first need to trust in Him, and we need to offer ourselves to Him along with our loaves and fishes, whatever these might be, however little, however few.

We must never think that it’s not enough, because God isn’t concerned with quantity; He’s concerned about us. Notice how in the Gospel the multiplication took place because Jesus had compassion for them (Mt 14:14). Whatever we might offer to God is grossly insufficient, and Jesus knows that better than we do, but He nonetheless says, Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters (Is 55:1). Come, because He will make it sufficient; He will multiply our offering, our love, so that we’ll even have lots left over. We need only trust in Him, love Him, and give ourselves over to Him. God wants to bless us, and not just in material ways! God wants to fill us with His spiritual gifts, His grace — and in abundance! He wants to make us holy and perfect in His sight (cf. 1 Thes 5:23); will we allow Him to do so? Will we offer ourselves to Him so that He might multiply in us His grace? Amen.

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