A Homily – The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 – 18 (Year A)

First Reading – Joel 2:12-18 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 ©
Gospel Acclamation Psalm 50:12, 14
Alternative Acclamation Psalm 94:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 – 18

(NJB)

Ash Wednesday (Year A)
Remember this:

The anointed one is not a king, Jesus was not a lord. The Romans crowned him with thorns, they mocked him when they called him king of the Jews.

Jesus was a man of the land, one of the am haaretz. Go to him, follow him, through him enter the way of compassion.

It is right and good to pray for the people. It is even better to leave the temple, to leave the church and be with them when they are suffering, but know this: God does not intervene in our lives, God has equipped each of us to deal with extraordinary grief, and hardship.

When you go to the people go in modesty.

Celebrate, rejoice and be grateful, God is with you and God is merciful, but God makes no intercession for us living in the world.

Listen!

With God there is never justice without mercy.

When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that has already found us.

When we possess knowledge and we are contrite, that contrition is like a shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to the knowledge of it.

Be mindful!

We are all sinners, we are animals, no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life; a life of conscience.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral.

Listen to the Apostle, who says that our salvation is the work of God. God has done the work, it began as Saint John said, in the first moment of creation.

The fall, such as it is, happens subsequent to and in the context of God’s saving work.

God has done the work already, Jesus revealed the truth of it, and has entrusted all of us who follow the way with the task of sharing that good news.

Here is the gospel: You are reconciled to God. There is no debt to pay. Allow the burden of sin, and the fear of it to fall away.

Be glad.

It was always God’s plan that we fall and rise together, that we rise and fall as one, because we are one in the goodness of God.

The apostle tells us, in the simplest of terms that the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation.

Hear this!

Everyone is reconciled in God’s love, in God who created the universe. The members of the church are to be ambassadors of this good news. The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, as it is today obsessed with signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.
The reconciliation has already occurred. The mission of the church is to proclaim it.

Proclaim that every day is a day of salvation.

With God there is never justice without mercy. When we seek forgiveness from God, we are looking for something that already found us.

When we come to that knowledge and are contrite, that contrition is a the shower that washes us clean, but God had forgiven us before we ever sinned or came to the knowledge of it.

We are all sinners, animals, no different than the wolf or the lion, but God speaks to us from our innermost being, God is present at our core; in this way God gives us the power and the grace to overcome our animal nature and live a holy life, to live a life of conscience.

There is no crime that God has not forgiven.

Do not look for God’s hand in the tribulations we suffer here, or the rewards we enjoy on earth, they are like the wind, fleeting and ephemeral.

Know this!

It is God who makes us well, who creates in us the possibility of wellbeing. God is our wellbeing, but God is not a king and there are no other gods.

All creation belongs to God, all that is good and all that frightens us, everything comes from God and will redound to the good.

It is good to show our respect for the creator and to sing songs in praise of God, but remember this and remember it always, that God is our loving parent, and has prepared each of us for God’s blessing.

Be mindful of this!

You will have no reward from God in this life, God does not intervene or interfere in human events.

Do not seek glorify or glorify yourself in public. Do not seek admiration from the world at large.

Pray in private, not in public, do not boast of your piety.

Do not brag on how much you give to the world, or how well you pay your employees, do good for the sake of doing good, be fair for fairness’ sake.

Go to your work and to your disciplines gladly, if you are fasting then fast, smile and be happy.
First Reading – Joel 2:12-18 ©

Let Your Hearts Be Broken, Not Your Garments Torn

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’

Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.

Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent, will not leave a blessing as he passes, oblation and libation for the Lord your God?

Sound the trumpet in Zion!

Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, call the people together, summon the community, assemble the elders, gather the children, even the infants at the breast.

Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom and the bride her alcove.

Between vestibule and altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, lament.

Let them say, ‘Spare your people, Lord!

Do not make your heritage a thing of shame, a byword for the nations.

Why should it be said among the nations, “Where is their God?”’

Then the Lord, jealous on behalf of his land, took pity on his people.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 50(51):3-6, 12-14, 17

Our God comes and will not be silent!
Devouring fire precedes him,
it rages strongly around him.

He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth to judge his people:

“Gather my loyal ones to me,
those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for God himself is the judge.

Were I hungry, I would not tell you,
for mine is the world and all that fills it.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of he-goats?

Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;
fulfill your vows to the Most High.

You hate discipline;
you cast my words behind you!
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 ©

Be Reconciled to God

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.
Gospel Acclamation Psalm 50:12, 14

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

A pure heart create for me, O God,
and give me again the joy of your help.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Alternative Acclamation Psalm 94:8

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
The Gospel According to Matthew 6:1 – 6, 16 – 18

Your Father Who Sees All that is Done in Secret Will Reward You

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’
Ash Wednesday (Year A)

A Homily – The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14, 16-19 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-3, 17-19, 23 ©
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18 ©
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19
The Gospel According to Luke 18:9 – 14 ©
Listen to words of the sage!

Listen and be joyful.

God creator of the universe, God is not respecter of persons, God respects neither the rich nor the poor.

There is no differentiation in God’s love; God loves all of God’s children equally.

God listens to all prayers, ignoring none of them, but God will not come to your aid, not while you live on Earth; do not wait in the expectation of it.

God’s deliverance comes after the body perishes, when you are delivered to the new world, to a place beyond time and space.

Be humble, serve your brothers and sisters as you would wish that God serves you, be the hand of God in this world, showing love and mercy and kindness.

Be mindful!

If you intend to seek God; look only in your heart. You will find God in loving, and in loving you will be blessed.

Praise God through works of love.

Look for no other glory than service.

God is great because God cares.

God has no name, therefore exalt God’s loving work in creation.

Listen to your neighbors, rescue them from fear, God’s light will shine through you, through the hope you kindle and the love you share.

Remember, with God there is no shame.

God is no respecter of station, class or wealth. God loves everyone the same.

Do not look for God to save you from your troubles. We are all Job, in a way. Have faith and you come to understand how transient your troubles are, and the temporality of pain.

There is no rescue in this world unless it comes from your neighbor.

All pain is temporary, but love lasts forever.

Do not fear.

Speak the truth.

Avoid evil.

Do good.

This is the wisdom of the psalmist, God see all, hears all, knows all; God knows even your innermost thoughts, your deepest secrets, desires and hidden motivations.

Keep your mind in the present and do not focus on the good things that may or may not come.

God loves us always, but it is only in the present that we feel it.

Listen only to those who teach hope…ignore the fear-mongers.

This is the way to peace.

Listen!

God will rescue you, whether you are pure and without flaw, or dirty and soiled with corruption.

God will rescue you though you do not deserve it.

God will come to your side and deliver you, God will place a crown on your head, but it is not for the righteousness you have earned, it is because God has claimed you for God’s own.

It is not a crown of glory earned through righteous perseverance, it is a token of God’s love.

Do not shun it.

Do not devalue it.

Do not think less of it when you see those who persecuted you and those who abandoned you receive the same blessing, when those who did not listen to you, when those who ignored you are present with you on the same pilgrimage to the divine.

Consider this:

The apostle tells us in the simplest of terms; the mission of the church is to announce the reconciliation of the divine.

Everyone is reconciled in the loving embrace of God, of God who created the universe.

The members of the church are meant to be ambassadors of this good news.

The church is not, nor should it ever be a recruiting agency, with the purpose of signing up members, for whom the reward is reconciliation.

Know this!

The reconciliation has already occurred, it occurred in Christ at the beginning of time.

It is the mission of the church to proclaim it.

Consider the Gospel of the Day:

Do not be mistaken; both of people are beloved by God.

God, the creator of the universe; God loves all people, without qualification. God gives to all people without preference.

In the person of the Pharisee and in the person of the tax collector; there is good and there is evil; both. This is true of everyone. It is true of you, and it is true of me, but God loves us despite our faults and failings.

The Pharisee was born into the life of a Pharisee, was given the means to live the life he lived. He had some say in how he would handle his inheritance; as we all do, whatever that inheritance might be.

This is not to excuse the Pharisee’s miserly behavior; this is simple to state our understanding of human nature, and the way things are.

Do not be surprised by it.

We are each of free to be prideful, or humble regardless of what we do or do not have.

All of us are in different ways both.

A person who manifests an ugly sense of pride in relation to one aspect of their life, may be loving and humble in another. Do not believe that because you see one side of a person, you have seen everything about them.

The tax collector also inherited his circumstances; perhaps making choices along the way to establish himself in the role he occupied, nevertheless, like all people, his role in his community was partly determined by free will and partly determined by the exigencies of his community life.

A person may have an occupation where they know they are doing harm to others, but cannot walk away from it, because of unseen obligations; responsibilities to family, to friends, to community. The fact that they are engaged in a sinful occupation does not tell us the whole story of who they are. They may be fierce and aggressive in the pursuit of their duties, and yet come to their prayers with humility and contrition.

Be welcoming to all who come to you. Do not judge them based on the outward expression of their piety, their occupation or their place in society.

We are all of us a mix of good and bad intentions.
First Reading – Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14, 16-19 ©

The Humble Man’s Prayer Pierces the Clouds

The Lord is a judge who is no respecter of personages.

He shows no respect of personages to the detriment of a poor man, he listens to the plea of the injured party.

He does not ignore the orphan’s supplication, nor the widow’s as she pours out her story.

The man who with his whole heart serves God will be accepted, his petitions will carry to the clouds.

The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds, until it arrives he is inconsolable, and the Lord will not be slow, nor will he be dilatory on their behalf.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-3, 17-19, 23 ©

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The just call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
Those who hide in him shall not be condemned.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.
Second Reading – 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18 ©

All there is to Come Now is the Crown of Righteousness Reserved for Me

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:25

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth,
for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom
to mere children.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Alleluia, alleluia!

God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself,
and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 18:9 – 14 ©

The Tax Collector, Not the Pharisee, Went Home Justified.

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9
The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 – 31 ©
(NJB)
Listen to the prophet. His words were never more true than they are today:

Woe to you Israel.

Woe to the callous hearted, woe to those who cannot see God looking back at them through the eyes of their neighbor, through the iron slats of the fences they build to divide us from one another. Woe to those who cannot see God in the faces of your brothers and sisters living in the occupied territories of Palestine.

Woe to powerful, woe to those who deny justice to the oppressed.

Consider this:

God is the author of our salvation, there is no other. Do not trust in the power of princes and kings, they will not deliver you, and God is neither a respecter of persons, or of nations.

The life of a human being, of all human beings, the time of humanity on Earth is little more than a brief flash in the night. We are born, we breathe and we are gone.

The Earth itself will not survive the sun.

Consider the words of the prophet, and the teaching of Jesus who points to the way; happy are those who assist God in the divine work of mercy and justice:

Lift up the oppressed,
Wherever they are
Feed the hungry
Free the prisoner
Teach the ignorant,
Wherever they are

Advocate for those who need an advocate, care for those who cannot care for themselves. Find those who are lost in their wickedness, and bring them home.

The Church began to deviate from the way on the day it was founded. As soon as Jesus died, before Christians were even called Christians the falling out among them was intense. It was immediate.

The Church was divided in doctrine, concerning questions about the truth, regarding the knowledge of God, the possession of riches and the distribution of alms.

It was like any other human institution, because it was just another human institution.

The epistle from today exemplifies this. It promotes the lie that the rewards of the faith are transactional; if give your wealth to the church, you will have a reward in heaven.

Be mindful!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather, it is the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

For Christians; Jesus is the shepherd, and the Shepherd is God; the creator of the universe.

There is just the one shepherd; just the one sheepfold and whether it make sense to us or not, whether it contradicts the teaching and the tradition of the Church, it is to the one Shepherd that we all belong.

Know this!

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, with how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger. The shepherd is speaking to them to, and they are listening as they are able (or willing).

Everyone that is, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way. Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey that another person is on, God is guiding them, just as God is guiding you.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, just as God waits for everyone. God, Jesus, the shepherd, they speak to us of love, they are love, like love they are patient and they are kind.

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us, because there is not place, not a single place where God is not.

Remember this!

Jesus is not a lord. He was rich in spiritual gifts, he shared those gifts with many, with all whom he encountered and in sharing he became richer in those gifts.

He was our friend, he lived with us as a friend, spoke to us as a friend, loved us as a friend, and died for the sake of his friends.

Remember that as you read the scriptures and be on the look out for those passages in scripture which contradict that fundamental truth, such as the reading for today.

The reading from Luke is not a parable, it is not meant to teach anything but fear. It is given as a means of justifying a denial of charity to those whom the first Christians, especially in those communities outside of Palestine, in their desire to excluded from the good works of the way, something Jesus himself would never have done.

These are the clues by which we can see that this is a false interpretation of Jesus’ teaching.

The writing is heavily mythologized, representing imagery of the afterlife, depicting Lazarus in the Bosom of Abraham (imagined here as an analogy for Elysium), the abode of the blessed dead. Be mindful of the reference to Hades, and the description of a gulf between it and the blessed realm.

Understand that Jesus did not speak in concrete terms regarding the afterlife.

Another clue is in the way that the author riffs on the name of Lazarus, which is the name of a man who we know Jesus loved. The author builds up the narrative in a way that draws a clear connection between Lazarus and the tales of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who also, like a dog, asks for scraps at the table of Christ.

In this way the author connects everyone who his contemporaries viewed as an outsider; seeing them as such on the basis of nationalism and ethnicity, to Lazarus who was beloved by Jesus; and was the man for whom Jesus wept, who he raised from the dead.

The central message of the reading provides the final clue. The message that is given is that Jesus is content to let people die in their sins, suffer in eternity, and never have recourse to salvation. This message is in stark contrast to his teaching on love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Be mindful of the way the prejudices of human beings, they were no different in the era when the Gospels were first written, when they were allowed to creep into the narrative of Jesus’ life and to rob us from the truth.
First Reading – Amos 6:1, 4-7 ©

Woe to Those who Live in Luxury

The almighty Lord says this:

Woe to those ensconced so snugly in Zion and to those who feel so safe on the mountain of Samaria, those famous men of this first of nations to whom the House of Israel goes as client.
Lying on ivory beds and sprawling on their divans, they dine on lambs from the flock, and stall-fattened veal; they bawl to the sound of the harp, they invent new instruments of music like David, they drink wine by the bowlful, and use the finest oil for anointing themselves,
but about the ruin of Joseph they do not care at all.

That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):7-10 ©

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just,
the Lord, who protects the stranger.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!

The Lord upholds the widow and orphan
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

My soul, give praise to the Lord.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ©

Do All that You Have Been Told, Until the Appearing of the Lord

As a man dedicated to God, you must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called when you made your profession and spoke up for the truth in front of many witnesses. Now, before God the source of all life and before Christ, who spoke up as a witness for the truth in front of Pontius Pilate, I put to you the duty of doing all that you have been told, with no faults or failures, until the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no man has seen and no man is able to see: to him be honour and everlasting power. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,
says the Lord,
I know them and they follow me.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 16:19 – 31 ©

Dives and Lazarus

Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

‘In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

‘The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.” “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them..” “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”’
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

First Reading – Amos 8:4-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-2, 4-8 ©
Second Reading – 1 Timothy 2:1-8 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9
The Gospel According to Luke 16:1 – 13 ©
(NJB)
Know this:

God does not keep a tally of our good deeds and our bad deeds, at the end of our lives God does not set us on a scale and weigh the one against the other to determine if we are worthy.

God loves us. The creator of the universe has a plan for our salvation, for the good and the bad alike.

But know this as well, God knows what we have done, God knows all of our intentions, God knows whether we gave to the needy or stole from them.

God knows why we do what we do, and how we justify it to ourselves.

God knows and God remembers.

The creator of the universe does not intervene in the lives of individuals, or in the course of human history. God desires that we do good, that we walk humbly, and serve the interests of justice. God desires that we refrain from evil, but God has made us, and the whole of creation free.
It is wise to praise the creator, it is good to be thankful for existence itself, but do not look to God for favor in this world, look to your brothers and sisters, to your friends and family, seek it from the stranger, and give it in return.

Know this!

God wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth.

This is the heart of the gospel.

God, the creator of the universe, God desires the salvation of all people.

Our faith is in God, and God’s intention towards creation, that faith is the foundation of our hopes, and in those hopes we have the foundation of a loving and just society.

God will not intervene on your behalf, either to help you or to hinder you but God does hear you, God is with you.

Listen!

Jesus is not a lord.

Jesus was rich in spiritual gifts, he shared those gifts with many, with all whom he encountered, and in the sharing he only became richer in those gifts.

There was no poverty, lack or want in Jesus.

In Jesus we had a true friend.

Be mindful!

It is your task to find your way in the world, and it is a capricious place.

Find your way in it. Take the good with bad, you have no other choice.

Take the bad with good.

You may steer your own vessel, but you do not control the storm, the wind, the rain, the waves, or the current. You have little say in the choices that other people make.

Be loving, merciful, and just; strive to possess these qualities; regardless of how you fail, and know this; you will fail time and time again, but regardless of your failings God loves you, God calls on you to love what is good and to avoid what is evil.

Be kind to people and develop friendships, we cannot go through life without them.
We need each other, we are communal beings. Our relationships are what truly matter; they matter more than wealth, or power, or prestige.

The world is full of caprice, we cannot save up enough money or store enough food to survive the calamities that are to come, and the world is full of calamities. We will not survive them without our friends.

First Reading – Amos 8:4-7 ©

I Will Never Forget your Deeds, you who Trample on the Needy

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy and try to suppress the poor people of the country, you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over so that we can sell our corn, and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?

Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel, by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’

The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob, ‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 112(113):1-2, 4-8 ©

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord!
May the name of the Lord be blessed
both now and for evermore!

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

High above all nations is the Lord,
above the heavens his glory.
Who is like the Lord, our God,
who has risen on high to his throne
yet stoops from the heights to look down,
to look down upon heaven and earth?

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
from the dungheap he raises the poor
to set him in the company of princes,
yes, with the princes of his people.

Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.

Alleluia!

Second Reading – 1 Timothy 2:1-8 ©

Pray for Everyone to God, Who Wants Everyone to be Saved

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus Christ was rich,
but he became poor for your sake,
to make you rich out of his poverty.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 16:1 – 13 ©

You Cannot Be the Slave of Both God and Money

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

‘And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year C)

First Reading – Joshua 5:9-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-7 ©
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 15:18
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 ©
(NJB)
Consider the reading for today

Let us set aside for a moment the notion that the events reported in the book of Joshua refer to actual historical realities.

They do not.

These writings are fragments of oral history woven together with allegories, using metaphors to transform the narratives into myths that could inspire a struggling people.

These stories began to be collected and written down in the 10th and 11th centuries BCE. They reflect the point of view of the Davidic Monarchy, and that of David’s heirs. They do not reflect that actual history of the people of Israel or Judea.

Know this:

God did not deliver the people from Egypt, they saved themselves. They had nothing to be ashamed of for having dwelt among the Egyptians for so long. The children of Israel entered into the service of the Egyptians during a time of famine and as a means of self-preservation. They remained in service for several hundred years and while there, they grew into a strong people.

This is the story that the tradition has preserved.

There was conflict when they left Egypt, but when they left they did so under their own power.

They became nomads again, returning to their roots, wandering around the Levant until they settled in the land of Cannan, where again there was conflict.

What is hidden in the reading is this:

The People must rely on themselves for what they do in this world. The people must produce their own food, protect themselves and grow their own tribes. They are responsible for this and cannot wait upon God to provide them, if they do they will starve.

God will handle the rest.

The tasks that belong to God will be done by God, the work and the work of God is not of this world.

We are called to have faith in this, and to trust in what we hope for.

Be mindful of what the psalmist says.

If you intend to seek God, look only in your heart. You will find God in loving, and in loving you will be blessed.

Praise God through works of love.

Look for no other glory than service.

God is great because God compassionate.

God has no name, you cannot lift-up God’s name in praise, therefore exalt God’s loving work in creation.

Listen to your neighbors, rescue them from fear. Reassure them with you faith, God’s light will shine on you, in hope and through love.

Be mindful of this, God is merciful, with God there is no need for shame.

God is no respecter of station, class or wealth. God loves everyone the same.

Do not look for God to save you from your troubles, we are each of us another Job, each in our unique way.

Our tribulations are not tests, but we persevere through faith. Trust God and you will understand how transient they are.

Do not look to God to rescue you from anything, look to your neighbor instead. Be that person for your neighbor, for the stranger, rescue them if you can.

All pain is temporary, but love lasts forever.

Do not fear.

Speak the truth.

Avoid evil.

Do good.

God see all, hears all, knows all, even your innermost thoughts, your secrets and desires, your hidden motivations.

Keep your mind in the present and do not focus on the good things that may or may not come as a result of the work you do.

Love, and do good, without the thought of reward for yourself. Love as God does, we experience it in the here and now.

Only hearken to those who teach hope…ignore the fear-mongers. The way is not found in fear.

Listen to the peace of the Apostle.

Our salvation is the God’s work, not ours.

God has done the work already. It began as Saint John said, in the first moment of creation.

The fall, such as it was, happened subsequent to and in the context of God’s saving work.

The work of salvation begins in eternity, the product of sin is a function of time and space.

Listen to the Apostle!

God has done the work already, we are saved. Jesus revealed the truth of it and has entrusted all futures followers of the way with the task of sharing that God news with the world. This is the mission of the Church.

You are reconciled to God. There is no debt to pay. Allow the burden of sin, allow the fear of it to fall away from you.

Be glad.

It was always God’s plan that we fall and rise together. We fall and rise as one, as the Apostle teaches. We fall and rise as one, because we were created as one in the goodness of God.

Consider the Gospel for today.

People change.

Appearances are not everything.

There is good in everyone, and in everyone there is cause to be disappointed.

The degree of judgement levelled by the Pharisees in this narrative; that is not something we should aspire to emulate, neither is the jealousy expressed in this parable by the loyal son.

Beneath any veneer of piety there is often a degree of bitterness and resentment; making the pretense of piety a mere façade.

The parable is about justice.

Jesus presents a story from his vantage, he teaches from the perspective of divine justice.

Few of us are able to do this.

The more common discussion of justice is the superimposition of human values, contemporary social mores over what we think or fear God would desire.

It is a rare matter to be able to set aside the prejudices of the day and be able to express divine justice, but this is the role of the prophet; to express justice characterized by love and mercy, by compassion and forgiveness, and to demand that we reform our human traditions in light of those.

This parable is often analyzed as a narrative on the power of repentance; repentance, which is the turning around of the sinner toward God. It is told as a story of conversion and the power of transformation that ensues, and that is fine because those motifs are clearly present.

The characters in the parable are the father and his children.

Read; God and humanity.

Humanity is presented in two different lights; the self-indulgent, and the disciplined.

The self-indulgent child is like most of us, greedy and heedless of the future. The journey he makes, takes him for from his father, far from God.

It is a long journey, it takes years to complete and it leaves him destitute.

The disciplined child represents a much smaller number of us (though most people fall somewhere in between). He stays home, remains obedient and asks for nothing from his father, expecting to get it all.

He is pious and resolute, but in his heart he is resentful and bitter. Because he asks for nothing for himself, he receives nothing for himself, and in his heart he is covetous.

Between the sin of self-indulgence and the sin of covetousness; which is greater?

I think it is impossible to say; sin is sin..

There is perhaps a broader degree of danger in self-indulgence, but there is deep spiritual danger in the covetous heart.

This is a story of repentance. The younger son repents and returns home. The long journey away from home, is a short journey back, and what the narrative reveals is that while he was away from home, the eyes of his loving father; the eyes of God, were always on him.

I believe this is the point of the narrative.

The purpose of this narrative is not to remind us that repentance is possible, or that God rejoices in the repentant. The point is to say that God is with us, always with us.

We are never out of God sight, and we are never far from God’s love. The parable is about God, God’s mercy, God’s Love, God’s compassion, God’s forgiving heart. It is about what God and Jesus, ask each of us to emulate everyday insofar as we have chosen to be followers of the way.
First Reading – Joshua 5:9-12 ©

The Israelites Celebrate Their First Passover in the Promised Land

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.’

The Israelites pitched their camp at Gilgal and kept the Passover there on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening in the plain of Jericho. On the morrow of the Passover they tasted the produce of that country, unleavened bread and roasted ears of corn, that same day. From that time, from their first eating of the produce of that country, the manna stopped falling. And having manna no longer, the Israelites fed from that year onwards on what the land of Canaan yielded.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 33(34):2-7 ©

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called, the Lord heard him
and rescued him from all his distress.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ©

God Reconciled Himself to us Through Christ

For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 15:18

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!

I will leave this place and go to my father and say:
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.’

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
The Gospel According to Luke 15:1-3,11-32 ©

The Prodigal Son

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’
4th Sunday of Lent (Year C)