Saturday, August 2, 2008

Homily for 18th Sunday Year A

My dad was an accountant, he was good accountant, and in fact he was a professor of accountancy at Mt. Marty in Yankton. Numbers, balances and ledgers were his play ground- he knew where things came for and where they went. What is accountant concerned with? Making sure everything “zeroes” out- right? At the end of the day they want the input and output to be in balance. This is good for businesses- even for our diet- but it isn’t a good image of God.

God is not some Divine Accountant- measuring out our actions and his responses so that everything is even. Our relationship with God is not a zero-sum game. There is no “even-Steven” in the life of Christ. God will always give us more!

Consider our Gospel today. What do the people give Jesus? He goes off for some alone time after the death of John the Baptist- to pray and receive consolation from the Heavenly Father. What does he receive but a crowd of 5000 men and even more women and children who come clamoring for him? They come to him needing everything; they come to Jesus with nothing to offer. For crying out loud they didn’t even bring food!
So what does Jesus do? Does he act as the divine accountant and say: “You didn’t bring me anything so I can give you nothing.” No. Does he say: “You have one loaf and so I’ll give you one more.” No. When they come to him with 5 loaves and 2 fishes for probably 10,000 people he gives them more than they could possibly desire! He gives them beyond their hunger, beyond their capacity to receive!

Today’s Gospel passage is an image of the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist. God will always give us more than we have given him. We come here on Sunday and we give God one hour of our life. We give God some percentage of the money we earn. And we often give those gifts in distracted or half-hearted ways. Yet what does he give us in return? He gives us his very body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist. Once he’s given his very self he can’t give us anything more!

He gives us everything and yet we are afraid to come near him. We are afraid to follow his teachings on married love, we are afraid to follow his teachings on confession, we are afraid to follow his teaching on the poor, we are afraid. I am afraid- I still struggle to give myself completely to him, yet I know he cares for me so much that I can feel spoiled. Spoiled!

At this Mass, as we receive God’s full gift of himself, let us remember those obstacles in our life that prevent us completely giving ourselves to him. Let us not be shy or think he cannot overcome them, but let us offer those difficulties, distractions, and struggles on this altar of sacrifice. Let us remember those original apostles who were just as afraid but still received the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us remember that God cannot be outdone in generosity and so in confidence let us turn to the Lord.

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