Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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mass-of-st-john-of-mathaa-1666

Mass of St. John of Mathaa- Juan Carreno de Miranda, 1666

In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom we see the great plan that God had in His mind for humanity; creating us in His own image. Everything was good until the devil entered into the world and became the source of death because of his envy. Those who remain close to God continue to experience His goodness even in the midst of trials, but those who give into the temptations of the devil become confused and unhappy. However, that is not the end. God’s plan continues.

In the Gospel we see two separate people approaching Jesus for a cure. They both believe he can perform a miracle and Jesus responds to their deep faith. Jesus is the generosity of God in human form, wanting to restore humanity to the perfection with which it was created. With one word he could have made all things new, but it is his desire and the will of the Father that each of us individually cooperate with the generous gifts he has given us; that we have the same deep faith as the two people in the Gospel who asked for a miracle. In baptism we received the gifts of Faith, Hope and Charity as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit and became children of God. And because he also gave us a free will that often puts us in conflict with his great plan for us, he established his Church and the sacraments so that we can be renewed in his love and his mercy. Of course this renewal depends upon our faith, it is not automatic. In this country we have become accustomed to efficiency. We expect things to happen at our convenience. God is not efficient. He does things in His own way and in His own time. We can become impatient with God. This is the reason people go to fortune tellers and look to astrology among other things. God has forbidden these things because they undermine our trust in Him.

We saw an example of this in the decision made by five members of the highest court of our nation recently. They put themselves above God and redefined what God had defined in the Scriptures and had been kept sacred for thousands of years. This is the arrogance of a society that continues to move further away from God. About this, Archbishop Gustavo said the decision was, “Profoundly troubling and a tragic error. The Catholic Church will continue to invite men and women, regardless of their sexual orientation to walk their journey of faith with us, discovering God’s plan for them and for all society.” He continued to say, “Catholic leaders will proclaim the truth about marriage from pulpits and in the public square. In catholic teaching about the sanctity of marriage, it is clear that the union of one man and one women in holy matrimony is more than a human convention or a legal contract. It is a sacred bond that reflects a great reality both in natural law and in our deepest held beliefs.”

The question to us is: do we have the faith to put our total trust in God and what he has revealed to us? If Jesus were standing here in this church speaking to us and you wanted to be healed would you have the faith to touch his garment, believing that is all you need to do to be healed? The reality is, Jesus is here in His Word that was proclaimed to you, in his priest ordained in his name, in the assembly gathered to worship him, and par excellence in the Eucharist. We have the possibility of touching his glorified Body and Blood. Are you ready to receive your God? What will you ask of him? Would you be willing to listen to what he might ask of you?

Even though almost everyone may receive Holy Communion, the precious Body and Blood of Jesus, we may not all receive the same benefit. The following is a quote from the Vatican II documents:

“For the faithful receive a more perfect participation in the Mass, when with proper dispositions, they receive the body of the Lord in the Mass itself, in obedience to his words, “take and eat.” Like the passion of Christ itself, this sacrifice, though offered for all has no effect except in those united to the passion of Christ by faith and charity… To these it brings a greater or less benefit in proportion to their devotion.”

Because this Holy Sacrament is meant to be an experience of the generous love of God, He expects us to be gracious in our reception. Our soul should be free from serious sin and we should not be harboring any unforgiveness, bitterness or resentment. Our Lord wants us to be free from the things that enslave us.

We should prepare ourselves for this supernatural gift by frequent confession, daily prayer and continued spiritual formation. It’s also good to read the readings of the Mass ahead of time. Because this hour we spend together worshiping God is like no other hour and the Gift we receive is Jesus himself, we fast for one hour from everything except water and medicine to help us to be properly disposed. During this hour, heaven and earth are united as the angels and saints worship with us.

What God created is good, and even though our human nature is fallen and we are prone to sin, God still has a great plan for us. In Christ and in His Church He has given us everything we need to live close to Him and experience His generous love and mercy. He expects us to also be generous, to believe in what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church, to trust Him and to share this Good News with others.

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About Deacon Tom Fox

Deacon Tom Fox is the co-founder of The Pilgrim Center of Hope. The Pilgrim Log is the blog of the Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry, providing weekly spiritual reflections to help you journey toward a deeper relationship with Christ. Learn more about the Pilgrim Center of Hope by visiting www.pilgrimcenterofhope.org.

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