26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sep 26, 2021

Leading with Love

For this and other Homilies and articles by Deacon Jeff, please visit his website at: www.JoyoftheWord.org.

  1. High School Chemistry Lab
    1. Teacher chooses partners
      1. Get that one guy or gal who doesn’t do work
      2. One person follows the rules,
  • does the work, both get reward
  1. Something similar in today’s readings

 

  1. Numbers – Moses is overwhelmed
    1. God agrees to share His spirt on 70 others
    2. 68 Follow the rules
      1. Ritual washing, sanctify themselves
      2. Gather with Moses in the meeting tent
    3. Two others, Eldad and Medad, not following the rules
    4. Yet all 70 receive the same gifts of the Holy Spirit!
    5. Doesn’t seem fair! Aaron, “Moses, stop them!”
    6. Moses, anticipating the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Coming Kingdom,
    7. “Would that everyone receive the Holy Spirit!”

 

  • In Mark we have a very similar situation
    1. John reports to Jesus, “Someone is driving out demons in your name!”
    2. 12 Disciples are following the rules
      1. Given up wives, family, livelihoods to follow Jesus!
      2. This other guy drives out demons, and probably goes home to a home cooked meal, back to work, and does what he pleases
  • Doesn’t seem fair!
  1. Again, follow the rules, get the reward.
  2. Break the rule, get punished.

 

  1. Jesus’ reply
    1. Perhaps with a bit of a smirk, Jesus replies,
    2. “Well, he’s not hurting anything
    3. And he can’t very well speak ill of me after performing miracles in my name!”

 

  1. But then Jesus continues
    1. With a seemingly unrelated string of teachings
    2. About how it is better to drown than mislead someone who believes in Jesus
    3. How it is better to enter the Kingdom maimed than thrown into eternal damnation whole-bodied
    4. We may ask, “What’s going on here?”

 

  1. A little context helps….
    1. Jesus just chastised His disciples for arguing who is the greatest among them.
    2. Now the disciples are upset with who is in and who is out
    3. They want permission to enforce their idea of the Kingdom
      1. Follow the rules, earn the reward
      2. Break the rules, get punished

 

  • Now we can see Jesus is deeply disappointed in their lack of understanding, and is warning them to “cut it out already!”
    1. His Kingdom is not about following rules to earn the Kingdom.
    2. He appears to be warning them, and us:
    3. That if you teach the Kingdom as “follow the rules, earn the Kingdom,” it is better to be thrown into the sea tied to a stone.
    4. And if you are tempted to think you have earned the right to authority in the Kingdom, Cut it out!
      1. If we are tempted to grasp selfishly at honors and privileges, cut it out!
      2. If we are tempted to use our feet to walk our own path, and not the Way of Jesus, cut it out!
  • The eyes are the portal to envy and lust. If we are tempted by envy, lust, even the lust for power and authority, cut it out!

 

  • But if the Kingdom is not a system of rules, rewards, and punishments, what, then, is it?

 

  1. Jesus in today’s Gospel refers to the Kingdom as, “Entering into life,” His life, a life of total gift of Love to the Father.
    1. Entering into Life, Entering into the Kingdom, is entering into a Love Relationship with the Risen Christ, and through Him, a Love of the Father and Spirit.
    2. Our faith is not a system of rules, rewards, and punishments
    3. It’s about the beauty of the World’s Greatest Love
    4. What does that mean for us?

 

  1. It is far too easy to give into the temptation of presenting our faith as a system of rules, rewards, and punishments, than open our hearts and speak of our Love
    1. If asked why we are married, or why we entered into religious life or Holy Orders,
    2. Most of us here would respond light-heartedly, or jokingly
    3. And only speak emotionally and with depth and passion if pressed
    4. But we cannot afford to do the same with our faith.

 

  1. One of the least addressed crisis in our Church is the continuing exodus of young adults, teens, and youth
    1. One of the reasons, I suggest, is the presentation of our faith as a system of rules, rewards, and punishments, and judgements.
    2. If we first present our faith as a system of rules, rules often at odds with the way of the wider world, it’s no wonder such starvation rations don’t nurture the hearts of our young.
    3. It’s no wonder the fastest growing religion in America is the non-denominationals, those who say, “I am spiritual, but I don’t believe in organized religion.”

 

  • Right now many of our teens and youth are participating once again in school athletics.
    1. If your daughter or son comes to you and says, “Hey, I think I might be interested in lacrosse.”
    2. What do you do?
    3. Do you toss them a book of rules for collegiate lacrosse, and tell them to go study it?
    4. Of course not!
      1. We lead with the beauty of the sport!
      2. We take them to a game, and watch the experts play
  • We introduce them to others who want to join the team too
  1. We go out into the backyard and have a toss and catch together!
  2. We introduce them to the beauty of the sport!
  3. No teen ever said, “Wow! This is a really stimulating rule book!  I want to play!”
  • Yet how may times do our discussions of our faith start with an argument over rules, rewards, and punishments?
  • We must start with the BEAUTY and our LOVE for our faith!
    1. We must passionately share our love for the liturgy and the music, of our prayers and devotions
    2. Share the beauty inspired by our faith: works of art by Dante, Michelangelo, Mozart, Bartolome Murillo, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Flannery O’Connor, and Matt Maher
    3. The intellectual contributions of Benedict, Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas, Edith Stein, Chesterton, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Gertrude Elizabeth Anscombe.
    4. Spiritual contributions by Pseudo Dionysius, Origin, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola, Bonaventure, Francis de Sales, Teres of Lisieux, Thomas Merton
    5. The artistry in film and television of Fulton Sheen, Fred MacMurray, Ricardo Montalban, Martin Sheen, Pierce Brosnan, Mother Angelica, Bishop Robert Barron
    6. The inspiring, heroic, and beautiful lives of Francis of Assisi, Thomas Moore, Maximilian Kolbe, Kateri Tegakaweitha, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Katharine Drexel, Mother Mary Lange, Mother Teresa, Pope Francis,
      and this community here, at SKD!
    7. A short and very incomplete list of the beautiful art, works, and lives inspired by our faith!

 

  • This is not to say the rules and practices of our faith are unnecessary, or unimportant, or can be diminished in any way. Quite the contrary.
    1. A lacrosse player won’t get very far in their love of the sport if they take to the field and do whatever they like without regard to rules and proper form.
    2. One who loves the sport willingly adopts the rules, practices, and drills to become the best lacrosse player they can be.
    3. Similarly, the liturgy, sacraments, rules, precepts, and practices of our faith are God-given and time-proven to shape us into the best followers of Christ we can be.

 

  1. Again, in matters of our faith, rather than rules, it is best to use a personal experience of Love as a touchstone, and place to start.
    1. For example, married couples don’t enter into marriage out of love for the rules of marriage
    2. The enter into marriage out of love for one another, to give their whole self unconditionally and become as one with the other.
    3. It’s because you want to be the best lover you can be for your spouse that you adhere to the vows, rules, and best practices of marriage.

 

  • So, too, with our faith. Because we want return Christ’s Love poured out over us that we adhere to the liturgy, sacraments, rules, precepts, and practices of our faith to become the best Lovers, as individuals and as a faith community, to our Risen Lord.

 

  • So, to our Catechists, teachers, musicians, cantors, staff, educators, clergy, religious, volunteers, council members, ministers, disciples, Confirmed, …. parents …., basically everyone in the room:
    1. Jesus encourages us to drop the rules, rewards, punishment model
    2. And teach and pass on our faith as an act of Love, entering into the life of a personal Love with the Risen Christ.

 

  • What does this look like in real life?
    1. We could teach our altar servers what to wear, where to stand, and when to bring things to the altar, that is the rules.
    2. Or we could encourage them to see their ministry as an act of Love for Christ; where their focus and reverence may inspire or sustain a spiritual moment for God’s people, or encourage someone to service.
    3. We could teach the Rosary by the rules of what prayer to say on what bead, and what mysteries are said on what day
    4. Or we could introduce the Rosary as joining with Mary to gain a mother’s insights and Love into the key events of her Son’s life.

 

  • Ministry Fair

 

  1. We now take a moment for the Holy Spirit to speak to us in our hearts, before rising up to profess our Love with the Creed, as prepare to receive Christ in Love, joining our lives to His and one another in a beautiful, intimate celebration of our Eucharist.

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