Homily for 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This homily was given for the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time on Sept. 24, 2000 at St. Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington. I suspect that many of us have had the experience of someone telling us: "you missed the point." Yes, missing of the point happens to us as we journey this life. Missing the point happened to the first group of Jesus’ disciples as well and today’s gospel records one such incident. Jesus is telling His disciples about what He must soon face: betrayal, being killed and then rising on the third day. What was their response? They did not understand and instead were arguing about who among them was the greatest. Those first disciples clearly missed the point. And so do we — often — in living as present-day disciples of Jesus. Let us review some areas in our Christian living where we run the risk and, in fact, have missed the point. We can miss the point in understanding what matters most in life. I share with you some observations I read this past week in preparing for this homily. "‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands and they will kill him.’ Jesus is speaking of His death; meanwhile His disciples argue about their status — who of them was the greatest. How pathetic. Yet, it is not an uncommon dodge: to put aside weighty matters of religion and to worry about paltry, personal issues. Clearly God and our standing before God must take precedence over all our other concerns" (Msgr. James Turro in Magnificat, no. 22, 2000, p. 333). Well, what is our standing before God like? What is our relationship with Him — our bond with Him — all about? Do we really acknowledge His Presence in our lives every day? Do we mean: "Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"? Do we pray daily, upon waking up, before going to sleep, at meals? Do we celebrate and receive the Sacraments: confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis; celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice and receiving Jesus in Holy Communion at least weekly on Saturday evening or Sunday? Do we love the people God entrusts to us in our family, workplace, parish? Do we love and support those others God gives us, who are needy and poor? Our relationship with God matters the most. Do we understand this or are we missing the point? We can miss the point in being witnesses to Christ and to His Gospel of Truth, of Love and of Life. Our witness most often will not be dramatic and extraordinary, but it must be consistent and faithful. We shall witness more by our actions then by our words — but witness we must day in and day out. Our witness must be rooted in a clear understanding of what we believe and why we believe what we believe. This means that each of us should take part in ongoing formation in faith — a process that begins when we are young — hence, the need for the best catechetical program in each parish and the need for Catholic schools. This process continues through adolescence into adulthood — again, the need for youth ministry and adult catechesis. How can we witness unless we understand the One to whom we bear witness and His teaching, which is rooted in the Scriptures and Church tradition and explained in Church teaching? Our witness is so needed in today’s world, indeed, so necessary! Do we understand this or are we missing the point? We can miss the point in our civic responsibility as faithful citizens. These days, so much in the newspapers and on the TV focuses our attention on the forthcoming elections. As faithful citizens, we must weigh carefully the issues facing our nation and our world, and the positions that the various candidates take on these issues. How tragic for all of us if candidates are ultimately evaluated by which one seems the better looking or by which one seems to show his love for his wife more demonstrably! The U.S. Bishops’ Administrative Board, composing about sixty members, published a statement entitled "Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium." Within this document, the bishops point to four moral priorities, which are the concerns, not only of Catholics, but of many people in our land. These priorities enable us to weigh carefully the issues facing us and the positions of candidates on those issues. These four priorities are: protecting human life, promoting family life, pursuing social justice and practicing global solidarity. Obviously, protecting human life is the most basic of these, since the other three depend upon upholding the dignity and inestimable worth of every human person, pre-born and born. I commend the bishops’ statement to you: it is 24 pages in length and has three additional pages of reference materials. It can be obtained from the Publications Office of the United States Catholic Conference in Washington, D. C. (Address: 3211 Fourth St., N.E., Washington, D.C., telephone: 202/722-8716.) The point we must not miss is that we have a moral responsibility to be involved in the political process and in electing our officials. As the bishops state: "Catholics are called to be a community of conscience within the larger society and to test public life by the moral wisdom anchored in Scripture and consistent with the best of our nation’s founding ideals …Our responsibility is to measure every party and platform by how its agenda touches human life and dignity." Yes, our participation in the political process is vital. Do we understand this or are we missing the point? "Missing the point": it happened to the first disciples; it happens to us. Let us pray, during this Mass and every day, to not miss the point about being authentic disciples of Jesus and faithful citizens. Jesus is our Way, our Truth and our Life; we must live in close union with Him through prayer and witness to Him in society. That is the point — the only point!

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2000