Monday, August 12, 2013

Homily for the 19th Sunday of the Year

[This homily was given at the 12:15pm Mass on Sunday, August 11.]

Click here for the Scripture Readings

I love Peter’s question here in the middle of our Gospel, “Jesus, is this parable meant for us, or for everyone?”

In my imagination I see Peter asking this question with some hesitancy, not quite sure he wants to hear the answer. Jesus uses this opportunity to talk about something that everyone will experience: the one universal that no one will escape- death. Now, we already now that Jesus wants us to be detached from our possessions: there’s nothing wrong with having money or material possessions: we just don’t want our possessions to possess us.

But Jesus then goes on to talk about the certainty of dying and the challenge of having stored up, what Jesus calls, “treasures in Heaven”. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a bank account: I’ve got a savings account and I’ve even got a retirement account. Granted there’s not much in there, but I put a little money away each month and then I get a statement telling me that the thing is growig. But what I don’t see is my statement for the treasures I’ve stored up in Heaven. No monthly statement; no earning statement at the end of the year. It’s hard to know how much treasure I’ve got stored up there in Heaven. I’m hoping for a lot.

Listen to this: Katherine Drexel was born in 1858. Her dad was a banker and made a fortune.  When Katherine was 29 her father died and left his estate, totally $250 million in today’s money, to his four daughters.  Katherine took her share of that money and put it into a trust; she then moved out of her mansion in Philadelphia, gave away her personal belongings, and started a religious order of nuns that would be dedicated to serving African and Native Americans. Over 60 years, she spent close to $20 million dollars building schools, health clinics, and chapels for Native and African Americans in 16 different states.  She was hated and loved by many- what she did for racial equality in the first half of the 20th century would not be made law until the Civil Rights Act was passed in the second half of the 20th century.

A question: do you think St. Katherine Drexel had stored up some treasure in Heaven? Did her acts of service, kindness, generosity, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness, faith, hope and Love contribute to her Salvation and Redemption?

Answer: you’d better believe it.

Here’s the thing: St. Katherine Drexel did these things because she Loved Jesus and was convinced that her call to Discipleship mandated that she serve those who were in need. Her Faith in the Eucharist taught her that God’s presence among us in invitation to make Him known through acts of Love. She knew Jesus’s word were true: at the moment of her death, only one thing that mattered. And that is Love. Only Love.

So, we circle back to Peter’s question: is this parable meant for every one or just for us? Answer: yes, both.

Perhaps you and I don’t have vast fortunes we can give away. It’s likely that God is not calling us to abandon our responsibilities as providers for our families to give away everything to the poor and live in poverty. You and I are not called to be St. Francis of Assisi, St Louis and St. Katherine Drexel. But Jesus is talking to us to day: he’s talking to you and he’s talking to me.

So, the question this week, for our prayer: what can I do, or continue to do, to store up treasure in Heaven? In my own way, given the circumstances of my life, how can I imitate the heart of St. Katherine Drexel in storing up treasures in Heaven?

My friends, I’ll give you a hint: it has a twofold beginning: minimize sin and maximize kindness. That’s the place to start. So, as we pray and live and love this week, where can I minimize sin and maximize kindness? Is there a vice or habit or sin that I need to cut out like a cancer? Is there gossip, judgmentalism, intolerance or envy that’s rotting my insides? Can I start spending less time wasting time? And then where can I maximize kindness? How can I reach out to those in need, especially the poor and hungry, the sick and the lonely? Can I share kind words with friends and coworkers? Can I pour a little more effort into my relationships with my spouse and kids?

Jesus is speaking to all of today: he wants us in Heaven, with Him, for all eternity. He is inviting us to make vast contributions to the treasure store waiting for us in heaven. This week, my friends, through our acts of Love, service, and kindness, lets call upon God’s grace to inspire and move us. This week, we move closer to our own sainthood. Our community can be full of disciples of Jesus Christ; full of saints-in-the-making.


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