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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008

 
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Fr.Paul Weinberger
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Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 11:21 am    Post subject: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008 Reply with quote

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2008

Homily by:
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
August 3, 2008

Thus says the Lord, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water.”

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen

That is from the Prophet Isaiah, in the First Reading.

, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water.”

In the responsorial Psalm, the refrain…

The hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs.

And that beautiful reading from St. Paul…

What will separate us from the love of Christ?

He lists all the things that can separate us from Christ, anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or the sword. It is not a “what” that can separate me from Christ; it is a “who”. I can separate me from Christ, no “what” can.

Then we have today’s Gospel, which was preceded by another that is just the opposite. We get a hint of that with the first line when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist. I just want to take a minute and contrast this Gospel with the one before it; the one about King Herod, powerful King Herod in his palace made by human hands and this scene in the desert. They both involve a Feast and they both involve kings and they are very different indeed.

King Herod is in charge; he is the top man and he did something that any man today would be embarrassed to do and it seems ridiculous. He threw himself a birthday party, which is something you could always leave to someone else to do. He invited many of his subordinates and he treated them as if they were equal. That is ridiculous. We see again and again in the luxury of this palace, made by human hands, King Herod going from one ridiculous thing to the next. He is so taken by the dance…a dance? A dance of a young woman that he offers her almost everything he has. She gets to choose what the prize is. He makes this offer in front of his subordinates…and he is also drunk. He is ridiculous in every way.

The young girl went to her mother and asked her mother what she should ask for; there was so much being offered. Her mother was very bitter. You see, Saint John the Baptist, the greatest prophet, which bridges the Old and the New Testament, told King Herod that he should not be living with his brother’s wife and that God didn’t like it. Well, she was mad and so she told her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. The last ridiculous thing that King Herod did was that he conceded to this vengeful wish related to the king by the woman’s daughter, the dancer. Saint John the Baptist was beheaded, killed because Herod wouldn’t want to look bad even though through all of these things he looked ridiculous from the beginning.

Transfer to this scene and we see Jesus, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords withdrawing in a boat to a deserted place by Himself. Remember in St. John’s Gospel how Jesus responds to the death of His dear friend, Lazarus? He wept at the death of Lazarus. Well, John the Baptist is His cousin! When Jesus heard the news He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself. When the crowds heard about this they followed him on foot. Perhaps they heard the news too and wished to express their sorrow and to be compassionate toward Jesus. When Jesus saw the vast crowd, He was moved with pity for them.

This translation doesn’t do justice. From the very core of His being, Jesus is moved with compassion for these people, who perhaps are going to express compassion for Him. God will not be outdone in generosity and we can see how Jesus is compassionate. He cures their sick. This is such a beautiful scene because we see that, in the desert Jesus is with these vast crowds and we see Him as the Good Shepherd, especially when He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Who wouldn’t think of Psalm 23?

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose.

Jesus gives the order for them to sit down on the grass. This was a vast crowd, but a good Shepherd knows where to find the grass in the desert and, notice that this “banquet hall” is not made by human hands but by God Himself. The Apostles are clicking their tongues, essentially saying to Jesus that it is nice that He can do all this but doesn’t He realize that it is getting late. Can’t you just see Jesus slapping Himself on the forehead saying,

“What was I thinking; look at the time!”

Of course He knew it was late and the Apostles are asking Jesus to let them go, to send them away to buy food in the villages. Jesus could follow up by replying,

“Then they can just grope around in the dark trying to find their way home.”

What Shepherd would allow his sheep to run out of a coral at night, open to predators? Jesus pretends not to hear them, I would guess, and orders the crowd to sit down. He asked to be brought what little food they had, which were five loaves and two fish. Jesus takes what they have and turns toward Heaven, said the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to the Disciples. All the Disciples received pieces, not a whole loaf. They kept handing it out until everyone was satisfied. Now, this is great! The hand of the Lord feed us and answers all our needs, as the Responsorial said so beautifully. We don’t believe that though! I guarantee that on a regular basis I take it back.

We have to see that God is the only one, who can give us this life-giving water to drink. The fact is that prayer is a way of turning to the Lord and having Him nourish us and answer all our needs because we can list them to Him. We can just spell them right out, or we can just pretend not to have time. I will give an example.

Just last week we had the Feast of St. Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus. Do you remember when Jesus visited their home? St. Mary sat right next to Him at His feet. I love St. Martha; she was in the kitchen. Do you remember her prayer? It sounds very much like one of my prayers and probably like one of yours.

“Lord, aren’t you concerned that she is not helping me? Tell her to get up and help me! Amen”

Right? What a beautiful prayer. I know that St. Martha took these words of Jesus to heart.

Martha, Martha you are anxious and upset about many things; Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be denied her.

I know that St. Martha started praying because when you fast forward in St. John’s Gospel you see that their brother was sick and died and then all of these people came over. St. Martha responds to Jesus in a profound faith filled way. She doesn’t lash out at Him. She is a woman of faith because she has recognized the source of the life giving water and recognizes the hand of the Lord and how He feeds us and answers all our needs.

I have a friend who is a priest, and he teaches far from here. He knows this lady too, who is amazing for many reasons. She prays the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours that you see mentioned in the schedule. Every time she prays the Divine Office it appears that she is in
ecstasy In other words, she can start to pray and she is filled with God. This is the other priest’s description and that is what I thought as well but didn’t say it. When you read the life of Saint Teresa of Avila or St. Catherine of Sienna, both Doctors of the Church, this would happen to them. They were so filled with God that the prayer might last for hours. Once after this happened the lady told me about it and a week later I asked her if she was praying the Divine Office everyday. She told me no, she had work to do. What a tremendous gift was given to her, but what was given to her is also given to us; we may not go into an ecstasy like she does but the hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs.

“I am too busy to pray!”

What we are doing when we are too busy to pray or to take time out of our day to pray, is to be like King Herod. We start making ridiculous decisions, one after another. Instead of turning to the Lord we turn to ourselves because we don’t have time; it is too sad!

Here the Lord took just the little bit that they had and tremendous things were done.

There is a lady that goes to Church here and I will probably get the city and state wrong, but everything else will be correct. You might know her, Yvonne Kozaczka. About six weeks ago she was in a private plane with her daughter and son in law and they flew from here to Atlanta. She was seat belted in the back. I remember that before this incident that Yvonne might have a little trouble walking. Yvonne is not a pilot but she knew that when they were landing in Mississippi at a small airport that they were going to crash. She prayed, “GOD, HELP US!” The plane crashed but Yvonne, who had difficulty walking before the crash, walked away from the plane crash. Her daughter and son in law were treated but they are all fine too.

I went to see Yvonne about six weeks ago. She’d had the seatbelt across her lap during the crash and she was black and blue from the whiplash. Yesterday at Church I had never seen her walk better. Do you remember her prayer? “GOD, HELP US!” HE DID! HE did help her. You see that this was a prayer said by someone, who knew that He could help and He did. All three of them are alive and it is amazing. The hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs.

If you go to sleep, muttering “Hail…Mary….Zzzzzzzzzz”, that is not a prayer, that is going to sleep, right? But, we don’ have time to pray because we don’t believe that anyone is really there listening. Yvonne knew that someone was listening and her prayer was said in such a way that He heard her prayer. The only thing that can separate me from God every day is me not these other things like anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or the sword.

By not taking time out to pray I can separate myself from God by not recognizing the ability of God to feed me through prayer, the same way that God knows every Sunday what I am going to need over the next seven days. So when I am in Church on Sunday He tells me that I will need this and this. Did you ever miss Mass on Sunday when you could have and should have gone and didn’t? The next week is just so tough. God says that He can help us but He won’t force us.

These people went out to Jesus and if you and I go out to Jesus it may be a little difficult at first. Maybe we will be ridiculous sounding to ourselves. We may tell others that we are nervous or distressed about something but we don’t turn to God. What parent sawing logs at two or three in the morning, when the little girl gets up and asks daddy for water, tells her to get out. He is going to get up and get her a drink of water. Or, the mother is going to get up or tell the husband to get up and get her the water.

Thus says the Lord, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water.”

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen
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