15 Sunday B- Several homilies-3

Homily from Father James Gilhooley

A pastor bankrupt his parish giving away wood to the poor to bring warmth to their homes in bitter winter. When he had no money left, he sold the rectory Chippendale dining room furniture for more wood. He was ridiculed by his peers for being a bad administrator. He was embraced by Christ on his death.

We must accept it as a given that not only does Christ believe in life after death but also He believes just as strongly in life before death. Furthermore, He believes not only in bread for the poor but roses too.

Do check today's Gospel. Mark clearly tells us that Jesus sent the apostles on a two-fold mission. They must preach repentance for people's sins. But in addition they must cure them of their physical ills and wants. Mark in verse 13 tells us today that the twelve did precisely that. Such a job definition is the reverse of the oft-told tale that Jesus is preaching pie in the sky in the bye and bye. The Teacher is interested not only in souls but bodies as well. He is anxious both to develop the spiritual life of people as well as their humanity. To say otherwise would be equal to presenting a counterfeit and plastic Christ to the world. He is in the business of saving people - body and soul.
It is quite true that the Master said, "The poor you will always have with you." But, in the words of Edward McGlynn, He never said that you and I were to do nothing to help them. Our Leader reminds us hunger is one disease that is 100% curable.
God, said one cynic, must have loved the poor. He made so many of them. Arguably He did so to make it easier for you and me to get into Paradise. We accomplish that by holding out a loaf of bread and cherry jam to them along with some substantive assistance. Nowadays that substantive aid goes by the name of empowerment. We must help them to build ovens and grow cherries.  It cannot be said that all Catholics accept this as a given. Many do not. I know of one American Catholic college where students bitterly indicted their chaplain in the school paper. They said that they came to the Liturgy to worship God and be inspired. They were fed up with hearing from him about the poor. The latter were living by the thousands in the neighborhood around the college. The priest replied, "I am sorry about that. I did not write the rulebook." Asked one sophomore sweetly, "What rulebook?" "The Gospels," he replied. 
If you read through the Gospels, one discovers quickly that the Nazarene spent more hours assisting the great unwashed than He did about speaking of His Father. What would happen if the reader tears out of the Gospels the pages that speak of the needy and His assistance of them? Well, we wind up with a book so abridged that no publisher would publish it.
Many rabbis of Christ's time said religion consists primarily in sacrifice. Some scribes would correct them and say that religion is concerned principally with the Law. And the Christ would buy neither definition. According to Him, it consists in love of God and one's neighbor - especially the ones who finds themselves with empty bellies.

 Christ's Church must belong primarily to the down and out. If the opposite is the case, the Church has seriously violated its charter. Furthermore, when the Church favors the poor over the middle class, we should not complain like the college students of the above. After all, must of us in the United States are the direct descendants of the very poor. Some of us are their children. Or at the very least their grandchildren. My mother as a child owned no shoes.

Furthermore, when the preacher turns us upside down to shake money out of our pockets for the poor, we should not moan. Rather, we should learn to say, "This is exactly what the Church should be doing. And, if it were not, I should be kicking and screaming till it began to do so."

I found these reflective lines in the Canterbury cathedral of Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas a Becket. "Poverty is carrying your water four miles. Poverty is being old at 40 and dead at 45. Poverty is having no crops to scare birds away from. Poverty is having no money to worry about."
Of the forty two million without health insurance in the United States, eight million are children. This translates into prolonged illness, skipping life saving medical exams, and inadequate medical care. Christ waits impatiently.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino

This weekend about 80 of our young people are attending a Youth Conference hosted by Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  There will be 3 to 4 thousand young people there.  There are actually 19 of these conferences throughout our country.  Over 50,000 Catholic Teens will attend.  Another 2,000 will merge play and spirituality at Cove Crest Camps, and the other Catholic Camps run by Life Teen.  The most spiritual and intense of all of the  experiences was completed a few weeks ago when 450 Teens, including 15 from our parish, attended the Life Teen Leadership Conference.

It is quite a sacrifice the young people make, giving up a week or weekend of their summer to come closer to Christ.  Many of them have to change their summer jobs.  Some have to forego family vacations.  Many have to find ways to pay for their trip. All have to sacrifice the beach, the mall, hanging with friends and so forth.  They make whatever sacrifice is necessary and with the support of their parents and their parishes, they arrive willing to grow.

The week or weekend flies by.  It concludes much sooner than they expect.  Then the real work begins. The Teens come home full of enthusiasm.  They want to change their lives, keeping Christ as their Center. This is not easy. It is one thing to focus on Him when in a secure, spiritual environment.  It is another thing to focus on the Lord when continually confronted with the temptations of those elements of society that have deified materialism.  Many of the Teens will actually write out new schedules for themselves to put prayer before everything else in their lives.  Some will begin Journaling. They will form plans to avoid immorality.
All this is actually easy when compared to the more difficult task waiting for the Teens when they return home. The Teens want to share their experience of Jesus’ Love with others, particularly their families. And many others, sometimes even within their families, simply do not want to hear it.  The challenge of Christianity might be too much for them, particularly when it comes from an unexpected source, one’s own child.
But that doesn’t decrease the importance of the message, or the need for the Teens to proclaim it.

This is not just about Teens returning from a spiritual experience.  This is about each of us, called to make the spiritual real in the world.  All of us are called to allow God into  the Center of our lives. All of us are called share the experience of the Lord with others. This isn’t just the work of the priests and sisters and religious brothers.  No, it is the work of all the baptized. It is the work of Amos.
Amos was a normal, everyday working man.  We hear about him in the first reading.  He lived just south of the border between the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, on the Judea  side. Amos crossed the border into the North and proclaimed God’s truth to those in the City of Bethel.  The people there were soft selling their faith. They were part timing their devotion to Yahweh.  Amos told them to change their lives and be
committed to the Lord.  The priest Amaziah told Amos to stop confronting the people and go back to Judah. Amos responded: “I am not a professional prophet.  I am an arborist, a dresser of trees. But I cannot refuse to proclaim the Lord.”
Nor can any of us.  We have to “proclaim the word, in season and out of season” as St. Paul writes in 2 Tim 4:2.  We have to proclaim the truth we experience within us whether it is a time others want to hear it, in season, or whether it is a time they would rather we just keep quiet, out of season.

While He was still with us on earth, before his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus sent his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven.  These disciples were ordinary, everyday men entrusted with an extraordinary task.  Jesus told them that the mission was urgent.  They shouldn’t be bogged down with impediments of luggage.  (By the way the Latin word for luggage is in fact impedimentum.) But they should wear sandals because they had a lot of ground to cover.  They needed to proclaim to all.  Some would listen, and others would reject them, but the message had to be proclaimed to as many people as possible.

It is the same for all of us.  We need to bring the message, the experience, the very presence of Jesus Christ to the world. Some will listen to you who will not listen to me.  Perhaps it is people your age, be it senior citizen down to child, who will say, “I want to be happy with life as he or she is happy.”  Perhaps it will be people who look to you for guidance, such as your own children or grandchildren.  Perhaps it will be people who respect and love you, such as your parents and brothers and sisters. Many of these people will hear the message clearer when it comes from you rather than from me or any priest.  So proclaim the message. 

And yes, there will be people who will reject the message.  You may indeed have to move on and proclaim the  truth of Jesus Christ to others.  But don’t stop praying for them. And be patient.   Joy, happiness and the Presence of the Lord are contagious, but sometimes it takes time for the Cure to Life to overwhelm a person.

50 to 60 thousand young people will grab an eagle this summer and will soar.  All of us have been called to grab the eagle and soar.
We pray today for the courage to hold on tight and the wisdom to find ways to hold out our hands for others to join us.  For the ride, the journey with Christ, is wonderful.
Homily from Father Phil Bloom 
Bottom line: A fresh start, liberation and healing - great gifts, indeed. To receive such blessings, we must lift our heads and recognize the Source of all.
The Russian people have a fable about a foolish boar. (By boar I am not referring to the guy who puts you to sleep -like I sometimes do - but the animal: a wild pig.) This particular boar was very greedy for acorns. If he found one, he would keep digging, looking for more. He dug so deep that he began tearing the roots of the oak tree. Finally the tree spoke, "Look up, you foolish animal. I am the source of your food. If you destroy my roots, you will have no more acorns."
Today Jesus asks us to look up and see the Source of all. He does this in a counter-intuitive way: not by loading the Twelve with gifts of food and clothes, but by sending them with "nothing for the journey." No food, no back pack, no credit card, no money in their belts. They did, however, bring three wonderful gifts: the chance for a new beginning by repentance, liberation from demons by apostolic authority and healing of sick by anointing with oil.* A fresh start, release from demons and physical healing - these gifts Jesus offers, but only if we turn to the Source.

This Sunday we have a magnificent opportunity to lift our heads and recognize the Source of all. Today we dedicate our new bell and tower. One of the the local pastors sent me a "Meditation on the Blessing of a Bell" by Thomas Merton. Merton had turned from a worldly life to become first a Catholic, then a Trappist monk. He saw the bell as a powerful reminder of God. Here is what he says:
"Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to Him, that we are not living for this world. They break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away."
I remember once I was feeling very anxious. My worries made me want to run away. At that moment a church bell rang. I stopped and thought about God. The bell helped me re-focus.
Merton says that bells "speak to us of our freedom." Freedom is much more than doing whatever one wants. Freedom means the ability to realize one's purpose. Each of us has a hidden purpose that God knows. A bell breaks into our anxieties and invites us to pray.
If you visit a Moslem city you will hear a call to prayer at certain moments during the day. Similarly our parish bell will ring a couple of times each day. I hope that it will make us pause and think about the Source.

In the beginning of the homily I told you about the boar who was so greedy for acorns that he didn't recognize the oak tree. I'd like to ask you to imagine this: Suppose that entire universe were reduced to the size of an acorn that you could hold in your hand. Ask yourself: From what Oak Tree did this acorn fall?
Jesus sent his disciples with nothing for the journey. He did it for a reason: So that we would look up and recognize the Source of all.

To sum up: Even though the apostles took nothing for the journey, they did bring some beautiful gifts: a new beginning by repentance, liberation from demons by apostolic authority and healing from illness by anointing with oil. A fresh start, release from demons and healing - great gifts, indeed. To receive such blessings, we must lift our heads and recognize the Source of all. Amen.

*On top of these gifts, Jesus promises a hundred-fold blessing, but that is a topic for a different homily.
Homily from Father Andrew M. Greeley 

"They anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them"


Much of the traditional interpretation of this wonderful story emphasizes the generosity of the Good Samaritan and views the story as a model for the generosity of all Christians.
Certainly the context in Luke suggests such an interpretation. However, some recent interpreters suggest a somewhat different reading and put the emphasis on the surprise of the injured man.

The Good Samaritan is God and the injured Jew is the sinner – all of us sinners. This interpretation fits the paradigm of many other parables of Jesus: A recklessly generous God overwhelming us with the surprise of his implacable love.


(It is legitimate in telling his story to reverse the team affiliation of the combatants)
Once upon a time a Cub fan and a Sox fan got in an argument during a game at the Cell.
The argument was of course the fault of the sox fan. He shouted the first epithet, he knocked the Cubs cap from the other man’s head, he threw a beer can at Cub fan and hit his wife my mistake. What was the poor Cub fan to do but push the Sox fan who obviously too much of the drink had taken. One thing led to another. The ushers and the cops had to separate them and since cops at the Cell  tend to be Sox fans, they ejected the Cub fan to the taunts of “Yuppy scum go home!”

The Cub fan had to watch the ninth inning at his home.
Needless to say the Cub’s bull pen imploded in the ninth as it usually does. T
he next day, however, virtue, truth, and Sammy Sosa triumphed and the Cubs evened the series. On the following day, as the Cub fan drove out of the parking lot, flush with a series victory, the saw his adversary at a corner on State Street with a flat tire and the hood up on the car. He pulled over, and despite his wife’s admonition, helped change the tire and provide a battery charge. The two men shook hands and promised to meet again when the Red Line World Series came around.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa

Jesus summons the Twelve and sends them out two by two. He gives them power over unclean spirits, and instructs them to take nothing for their journey but a walking stick. He warns them about rejection: people will not always welcome them or listen to them. The disciples go out and preach repentance, drive out many demons, anoint the sick with oil and cure them.

Note that the English word "repentance" does not adequately convey the meaning of the Greek verb that Mark uses in his gospel (literally "to change the mind"). In Mark's usage the word implies a prophetic call to interpret reality in a radically new way, as from blindness to sight. "Repentance" is at once a gift and the task of turning and surrendering to God in a way that embraces every aspect of life. A New Testament example of the reality to which the word points is the conversion experience of Paul. For Paul, that radical change of direction means to live with the mind and heart of Christ (1 Co 2:6-16).

Life Implications
If you visualize Mark's dramatization of one of the most theologically significant events in his entire gospel, its comic character may strike you. It's a scene right out of Godspel. Here is Jesus sending out these disciples (not the best and brightest of that society) on a mission to overthrow the reign of Satan and to proclaim the coming of God's reign. The comic aspect, if not for the disciples at least for the onlookers, is apparent when the size of the mission is juxtaposed with the means to accomplish it. The disciples, whose obtuseness and little faith Mark frequently highlights, now are instructed to go out with nothing but a walking stick--no food, no sack, no money in their belts, not even a bible.
Mark, in telling us about the beginning of the church in so dramatic a fashion, wants to be certain that disciples in his church and in our church will be mindful of some important implications. We, like the first disciples, are inadequate for the task; yet Christ's mission for God's kingdom is given to us. The comic contrast of mission and means may point to something essential about the church. If we labor under the illusion that we can bring about God's reign by our own resources, perhaps even replacing the walking stick with a sword, we will be advancing something other than God's kingdom on earth.
Paul refers to his experience of preaching the gospel not as comic, but as foolishness (1 Co 1:18-31). He relishes saying "we are fools for Christ's sake" because he understands that it is because of his weakness that the power of Christ can dwell in him (1 Co 4:10 and 2 Co 12:9). Perhaps we in the United States, who have so many of the world's resources, might reflect on the reality that in terms of accomplishing Christ's mission, all our high-tech resources should be regarded as no more than a walking stick.

At the beginning of Mark's gospel we learn that the Spirit descended upon Jesus, God's beloved Son, at his baptism by John in the Jordan. In this awareness and by the power of the Spirit, Jesus overcomes the power of Satan in the wilderness; and after John's arrest he sets out to accomplish his mission for God's kingdom. He preaches repentance, casts out unclean spirits, and cures many who are ill. By the time Mark wrote his gospel, the connection between Jesus' mission and the extension of his mission to the church was quite clear. Because disciples share the Spirit and are beloved by the Father, they also share Christ's power to preach repentance, to drive out demons, and to cure the sick. 

This gospel of the Lord's commissioning disciples to carry forward his mission may remind us of our inadequacy, but paradoxically it also reminds us of our dignity and importance. God depends not only on Jesus in his humanity, but on the successors of the Twelve and on each of us to be co-creators and co-christs in bringing about a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. 

Campion P. Gavaler, OSB

Homily from Father Cusick Meeting Christ in the Liturgy 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"What you have received, give as a gift." The Church is the body of Christ not just in receiving his divine life and love, but in giving it as well. Christ sent the Twelve out "two by two" and he also sends us forth. The Church is continually on the mission to evangelize all nations.
The sacramental liturgy takes its name of the "Mass" from this reality. The word comes from the Latin "missa", from the conclusion of the liturgy, when the priest says "Ite, missa est", meaning "Go, it is sent forth." The people have heard the Word, prayed and received the Eucharist and are now prepared to take these gifts out to the world. Our everyday lives should include a continual reaching out, a going forth to proclaim the truth to the world, to call all mankind to Christ. The physical healings recorded in the Gospel are of God's power made manifest through the Apostles sent out to teach and baptize all nations.

Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. (Cf. Matthew 10:38) By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: "So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them." (CCC 1506)

Healings of the body are signs only of the necessity of faith and the healing of the ravages of sin through the mercy of God. It is not physical blindness that shuts us out of heaven, but spiritual blindness to the evil of sin. For a world that is obsessed with physical appearances and habitually neglects the matters of the spirit, it is hard to hear the truth that God is concerned most with the appearance of the soul. The human soul in a state of grace is the most beautiful of all creatures and radiates with the beauty of divine love. Authentic compassion always requires that we care for and tend the ill and the disabled, but even more that we attend to their salvation. Knowing of heaven and the way to get there is the only sure source of comfort to those weighed down by the sorrows and burdens of this world.

We meet Christ in the liturgy so that we may be sent out healed of the effects of sin, strengthened and made new by God's Word and the Body of Christ. In this way we are equipped to preach and teach the truth by which Christ is made known to the world. We love best when we speak and act with the charity of Christ himself, desiring the salvation of the world.

The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church:

Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church. (Pius XII, Discourse, February 20, 1946: AAS 38 (1946) 149; quoted by John Paul II, Christifideles Laici 9.) (CCC 899)